Egalitarian dialogue

Egalitarian dialogue is a form of discussion that takes place when different contributions are considered in terms of the validity of the arguments, rather than assessing them according to the power positions of those who advocate them.

Principles and history

Educational theory and practice in the 21st century comes with a willingness to change paradigm in the direction of dialogue. This willingness to change is not a development exclusive to students and teachers, but extends further, to include the community to which the educational institution belongs. It has the capacity to gradually facilitate a fundamental change in approach, which by spreading across all society, can ultimately transform thinking into more than simply a contemplative act, but rather, as Freire said::

“To think correctly implies the existence of subjects whose thinking is mediated by objects that provoke and modify the thinking subject. Thinking correctly is, in other words, not an isolated act or something to draw near in isolation but an act of communication. (...) For this reason, a correct way of thinking is dialogical and not polemical.” (Freire, 2001, p. 42-43)

But, to make it successfully dialogical, this act of communication mustn’t change validity claims for power claims (Habermas, 2004a). The act of communication is an act that involves arguments or elements of discourse. Validity claims arise when such elements have as an objective a search for truth and are oriented towards understanding. On the other hand, power claims manifest themselves when the elements have, as an objective to impose an interpretation, a rule, a value, a method, or a decision, blocking any intention of dialogue. This dialogue, being a genuine understanding or agreement among individuals, and a product of free, uncoerced participation, where each participant respects the rights of others, has became a reality in Spain since the early 1970s, influenced by the ‘Culture Circles’ of Freire (Soler, 2001), through literacy circles introduced in disadvantaged areas. Freire introduces this dichotomy of validity/power claims in his 1970 work Pedagogy of Oppressed. Here, he explains that dialogue is impossible without getting over the “antidialogic action” of the actual system created by power claims. However, to ‘get over it’ a process of continuing dynamics is necessary. This “dialogic action” he transfers to his pupils, the illiterate people of Pernambuco, Brazil. As Freire states throughout his entire work:

“(Literacy circles in poor areas) only make a sense in the context of humanising process. In other words, they should open up conjointly the possibility of a socio-historical and political equivalent of psychoanalysis whereby the sense of self-blame that has been falsely interjected can be cast out. This expulsion of self-blame corresponds to the expulsion of the invasive shadow of the oppressor that inhabits the psyque of the oppressed.” (Freire, 2001, p.78)

This self-blame that he refers to in Pedagogy of Freedom leads people to use power claims to hide behind ideological values for fear of confronting another opinion, for fear of the possibility of dialogue, and of discovering, eventually, that there is no reason for this self-blaming. Dialogue helps not only with the learning process, but also with the development of self-esteem, for both sides; learner and teacher.

After the introduction of dialogic literacy circles started in Spain in the 1970s (Soler, 2001), social scientists began to become increasingly involved in the area of education through dialogue, analysing within the learning dimension and arriving at certain conclusions, which led to the creation of movements like the Pedagogic Renovation Movements (“Movimientos de Renovación Pedagógica”, MRPs) (Flecha, 2005), federations like FACEPA1 (FACEPA, 2005) in the field of adult education and research groups like CREA2, building a new theoretical concept of learning, the Dialogic Learning.

In 1997, an inspired document was published. It was a product of 25 years of extensive experience with illiterate people who had started to read classics such as Joyce, Cervantes, Kafka and others in a literacy circle. The document was Sharing Words - Theory and Practice of Dialogic Learning, by a founder member of CREA, Ramon Flecha. This book, originally in Spanish, and since translated into Chinese, English - and shortly into Portuguese - builds further on the idea of dialogue as an indispensable element of learning. There we find an epistemological introduction, detailing seven dialectic principles; Egalitarian Dialogue, being the first, and demonstrating a close relationship with Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action:

“Communicative action refers to an interaction in which subjects capable of speech and actions enter into an interpersonal relationship using verbal and non-verbal means (one might posit that all people, including the student body and the community, take part in designing their own learning). The central concept is that of interpretation, as related to the negotiation of situations open to consensus (the meanings of texts are established by reasoning and not by the teacher). Language takes a fundamental place as the means of understanding.” (Flecha, 2000, pg. 3-4)

The Egalitarian dialogue, like each principle of Dialogic Learning, is characterised by a dialectical behaviour. The author goes on to maintain that it is only through this principle i.e. an understanding or agreement among participants, and its relationship with the others six principles, cultural intelligence, equality of differences, creation of meaning, solidarity, instrumental dimension, and transformation, that pedagogy can reach what Morrison (1996) refers to as “Habermas’ views of knowledge-constitutive interests”: (1) co-operative and collaborative work; (2) discussion based work, (3) autonomous, experimental and flexible learning; (4) negotiated learning; (5) community-related learning in order that students can understand and interrogate a range of environments; (6) problem solving activities; (7) increase students right to employ to talk; (8) teachers acting as ‘transformative intellectuals3’(Aronowitz and Giroux, 1986) promoting ideology critique.

With these elements, participants of Egalitarian dialogue start to learn how to interact with people, as we can see in the evidence presented by Marta Soler-Gallart via her 2001 Harvard’s Doctoral Dissertation “Dialogic reading.: A new understanding of the reading event” and the testimonials of adults learners in her research of literacy circles:

“It has helped me loose the shyness I used to feel in expressing an opinion... I don’t mean by that that I changed my way of thinking, but that I used to be afraid of speaking up, saying my opinion because of what others might say and now I don’t. Now I express my opinion, you see? For instance, I now speak in a meeting and I didn’t dare before.” (Sara, participant, in Soler, 2001, p.228)

Egalitarian dialogue and cultural intelligence

Associated with Habermas’ procedural concept of communicative rationality in which actors use knowledge to reach understanding and co-ordinate actions, and in endeavouring to explain the universal capacity for language and action (Habermas, 1987), CREA has developed the principle of Cultural Intelligence (CREA, 1995-1998), defined as the plurality of human interaction dimensions that allows people to use their communicative abilities – which includes academic, practical, and co-operative skills – to reach agreements in different social contexts.

Through an Egalitarian dialogue, people can recognise their Cultural Intelligence, the knowledge which belongs to the other. When one realises that no matter what his/her age, ethnic origin, academic formation, gender, class position, that inherent intelligence is a fact, a historical fact that power claims attempt to discredit and hide from people, one begins to not only believe in oneself, but more than that, to try to believe in the other, the neighbour, the relatives, and starts to listen to each other:

“I do learn because sometimes you are about to argue with somebody and then you remember it and you think, ‘no, don’t do it!’ and you withhold yourself. And I do believe this is a good thing... you learn to respect others more and to give another value to things”. “In the literary circle I have learned to respect others when they speak.” (Respectively, Pepa and Reme, participants, in Soler, 2001, pg.230)

Communicative action brings with it a discovery of oneself, and the constant discovering of another knowledge hidden in the shadow of every person and gradually coming to light through the human act of talking, – and by extension – sharing. This Interactive Self-Confidence (De Botton et al, 2005) reaches the verbal and non-verbal relationship that Flecha describes, developing the praxis of intersubjectivity as a dialog among the participants to such a level of mutual respect, that, between the contributions we can ‘hear’ a silence - a silence not coming from censure but from understanding - a Dialogic Silence, as we can see demonstrated in Freire’s Pedagogy:

“The importance of silence in the context of communication is fundamental. On the one hand, it affords to me space while listening to the verbal communication of another person and allows me to enter into the internal rhythm of the speaker’s thought that rhythm as language. On the other hand, silence makes it possible for the speaker who is really committed to the experience of communication rather than to the simple transmission of information to hear the question, the doubt, the creativity of the person who is listening. Without this, communication withers.” (Freire, 2001, p.104)

This “creativity of the person who is listening”, what CREA terms Dialogic Creativity (Flecha, 2000; Elboj et al, 2002; Albert et al, 2004; De Botton et al, 2005), is a product of the interaction among all the knowledge shared through a communication action. Through this creativity, people can determine their ways of life, and pedagogically, ways of learning, even to the extent of the design of the curriculum (Morrison 1996; Habermas, 2004a), building an existential, empowered, and ideological-critical view of the ‘curriculum as praxis’ which embodies the emancipatory interest (Habermas, 2004a). Sharing all knowledge through an egalitarian dialogue, a critical creativity can be acquired, which can begin to contest the curricula imposed by power claims, and break through all social injustices. The Dialogic Creativity makes people more active, and more disposed toward helping one another, whether they be a teacher, a student, a relative, or a neighbour:

“Experience throughout life provides us with culture. That is, all people can contribute things and can also learn from others... we thought we could not read classic literature and now we have discovered not only that we can read it but also that we can contribute things and enjoy doing it.” (Sara, participant, in Soler, 2001, p.169)

“For instance, I learned to read Ulysses here in the circle... I was unable to go beyond the initial pages, and in the literary circle I have learned a great deal from the contributions of Carmen, and Manuela [participants of the circle] ... I owe a lot to the literary circle for being able to understand Joyce. (Blanca, teacher, in Soler, 2001, p.170)

However, mutual recognition is an exercise, and, like all arts, becomes more refined with practice:

“At the beginning we did not have the habit of waiting for our turn to speak. We wanted to speak right away, when things come to mind. Now we see that it is very important to listen and to wait for our speaking turn.” (Dialogic Literary Circle’s Annual Conference: April 1, 2000 in Soler, 2001, p.179)

One can use Dialogic Creativity to break through the barriers of understanding, and even of research. Marta Soler developed a focus group (Soler, 2001) for her research based on the investigations of CREA, (CREA 1994-1997) on Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action and on adult education, especially the kind developed in Learning Communities4 (Sanchez Aroca, 1999; Valls, 2000; Elboj et al, 2002). There, all participants knew each other, and they also knew the purpose of the discussion, in that particular case, to collect information for her dissertation. The discussion developed into an egalitarian dialogue, allowing space for all participants to develop their arguments, a collective interpretation of reality. This method which we have come to know as Cultural Transference, is where many possibilities of demonstrating cultural intelligence in the new academic context were discovered (Flecha, 2000). An illustration of this notion of transference, is also to be found in CREA’s permanent training plenary “With the Book on Your Hand” (Soler, 2004), a Cultural Transference phenomena manifested derived from literacy circles, born of lifelong learning and transposed to the academic scene, resulting in a powerful example of professional training. Another example of cultural transference is the use of Dialogic Learning to assist with prisoners’ rehabilitation (as detailed in Loza Aguirre, 2004).

Egalitarian dialogue and equality of differences

The ‘communicative focus group’ (Soler, 2001), helped the researcher to understand that a society with an Equality of differences is possible, as witnessed through her self-expressed astonishment and happiness with the research results:

“The success of the dynamics in the focus group also made me aware of how much these people are used to taking part of group discussions”. (Soler, 2001, p.29)

The respect and the recognition of each different knowledge brings a comprehensive awareness that each person has something to share, something different, something new, and Dialogic Silence comes then to find a place between the act of listening and the act of speaking; an act of wonder, of questioning, an act which helps to formulate the right and rational subsequent act:

“Respect others’ words are very important, this leads you to respect the things of life... at the beginning, you have a thought and you think you will forget about it if you don’t say it right away... then you learns to write it down on a paper, and you say it when it’s your turn.” (Focus group, in Soler, 2001, p.179)

Within Dialogic Silence, Vygotsky’s inner speech is developed, i.e. the development of word meanings that then form the structure of consciousness in the process of trying to communicate with others (Vygotsky, 1999). Inner speech cannot exist without social interaction. In a gradual developmental process, symbols, first used in communication, are turned inward to regulate behaviour in the interests of social co-operation. With an egalitarian dialogue, Dialogic Silence arises as a sine qua non of dialogical communication (Freire, 2001). The notion of Equality of Differences, bringing to the participants an awareness of the construction of truth, of all cultural intelligence which is arrived at through egalitarian dialogue, encompasses a concern to achieve in discussion a consensus which is based on the force of the argument alone, rather than the positional power of the participants. It shows the democracy and equality sought by Habermas (Morrison, 1995), rooted less in the operation of power and domination and more in a search for rational behaviour and a consensus that is based on the rational search for the truth, and which is achieved discursively, with the adherence to the speech-act validity claims of truth, legitimacy, sincerity and comprehensibility.

“Dialogic Learning is oriented towards Equality of differences, affirming that true equality includes the very right to live in a different way. This perspective, which Freire calls ‘unity in diversity’ (Freire, 1997), never criticises limited forms of equality without defending others of more consequence. It never defends diversity without simultaneously proposing equality and fairness toward different people and groups.” (Flecha, 2000, p.22-23)

This Equality of differences must apply, of course, among and between both teachers and students. We can see then the dialectical behaviour of teaching, where whoever teaches learns in the act of teaching, and whoever learns teaches in the act of learning (Freire, 1998). Egalitarian dialogue is an accord between reciprocally communicating subjects, which is to say that the verbal and non-verbal expression of either the teacher or the student must be perceptible within a frame of reference that is meaningful to the others (Freire, 2005). If this agreement on the linguistics signs used to express the object does not exist, there can be no comprehension between teacher and students, and dialogue and the manifestation of its principles will be impossible. That is why, in Learning Communities (Valls, 2000), teachers, recognising the limits of such linguistic signs on the student’s universe, developed, through dialogic creativity, Interactive Groups (Aubert et al, 2004), where students and adults at different levels of instruction, meeting through an egalitarian dialogue, recognise an equality of differences, teaching and learning with each other. This, in turn, allows for take care of the Zone of Proximal Development, defined by Vygotsky (1978) as the child’s actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers. Thus, beyond the relationship between teachers and students, the meaning formation process does not depend solely on the intervention of education professionals, but also on all people and contexts related to the students’ learning (Flecha, 2000).

However, to reach this perception of equality, people need to practise the exercise of egalitarian dialogue which acts as a effective tool to confront a world with a multiplicity of cultural values and universal validity claims (Habermas, 2004a), and begin to discover with creative communicative paths for learning and living, the dialectical truth of the dialogue:

“Cultural values do not count as universal; they are, as the name indicates, located within the horizon of the lifeworld of a specific group or culture. And values can be made plausible only in the context of a particular form of life. Thus the critique of value standards presupposes a shared pre-understanding among participants in the argument, a pre-understanding that is not at their disposal but constitutes and at the same time circumscribes the domain of the thematized validity claims. Only the truth of propositions and the rightness of moral norms and the comprehensibility or well-formedness of symbolic expressions are, by their very meaning, universal validity claims that can be tested in discourse.” (Habermas, 2004a, p.42)

Egalitarian dialogue and creation of meaning

Habermas’ desire to offer a vision (Morrison 1995; Habermas 2004a, Weber, 1980) of how to break out of the “instrumental rationality” of Weber’s “iron cage of bureaucracy” (as Habermas terms it, the “colonisation of lifeworld” by the “steering media” of power, law and bureaucratisation), sees a way forward in “communicative rationality” which abides by the principles of the “ideal speech situation”, i.e. the egalitarian dialogue, whose elements comprise the freedom to enter a discourse, check questionable claims, evaluate explanations, modify given conceptual structures, assess justifications, alter norms, interrogate political will, in summary, what Freire calls ‘reading the world’. Speaking on this subject and targeting the illiterate students as an example, Freire continues:

“The reading and writing of words comes by way of the reading of the world. Reading the world is an antecedent act vis-à-vis the reading of the word. The teaching of the reading and writing of the word to a person missing the critical exercise of reading and rereading the world is scientifically, politically, and pedagogically crippled.” (Freire, 2004, p.66)

Furthermore, philosophically: Habermas (Soler, 2001; Habermas, 2004a, 2004b) has stressed the need to recover people’s communicative rationality from systemic colonisation as a way of reinventing democracy in public spaces and institutions. His concept of lifeworld refers to the context in which people relate to each other, create meaning, and create structures to organise themselves. He also takes Schütz & Luckman’s (1973) philosophical approach to the subject and develops the concept of intersubjectivity as the dialogic interaction among subjects in an egalitarian dialogue. In his view, subjects create meaning through their dialogues about a real, existing world. Once egalitarian dialogue promotes a real sharing of all participants’ cultural intelligence, realising an equality of differences, then an “epistemological curiosity” (Freire, 1998) is increased, making people ask about the world outside Weber’s “iron cage of bureaucracy”. The previous “ingenuous curiosity” becomes “epistemological”. As we have seen, communicative action brings a dialogic creativity, and this creativity develops an “epistemological curiosity”:

“There could be no creativity without the curiosity that moves us and sets us patiently impatient before a world that we did not make, to add to it something of our own making” (...) “One of the fundamental types of knowledge in my critical-educative practice is that which stresses the need for spontaneous curiosity to develop into epistemological curiosity” (Freire, 2001, respectively p.38, p.83)

This “epistemological curiosity” which I prefer to call Dialogical Curiosity, coming from a dialogic creativity, must criticise and put an end to what Freire called the “bureaucratising of the mind”(Freire, 2001), an invisible power of alienating domestication. The egalitarian dialogue with a communicative reading comprehension of the world realises the universal capacity for learning and people become more critical. In the Music Listening Circle (CONFAPEA5, 2005), – the area in which I am conducting my research - we can see how people become more critical and begin to understand the difference between ‘to hear’ and ‘to listen to’ a piece of music. Dialogic Listening shows how people develop their Dialogic Curiosity listening to music; wondering about the instruments that were playing, about the composer, his life and his position in a historical context, the style of the music listened to and its relationship with the culture claims of each participant belonging to the Music Listening Circle, etc. The curiosity and the creativity make each participant, with a sense of autonomy and solidarity, start to search for new ways of learning, via speaking with relatives about their homework until they develop new methods and curricula, as happened with the Interactive Groups in the Learning Communities. This Dialogic Curiosity and Creativity promotes a new dimension of instrumentality in education, where the instrumental and curricula become dialectical, dynamic, instigated by both the learner’s and teacher’s curiosities: “What type of response did they make to their curiosity? Was it easily forgotten, or did it lead to other curiosities? Did this process involve a consultation of sources, the using of dictionaries, computers, books, or other people? Did this curiosity constitute a challenge, a provocation for some provisional knowledge, or did it not? What did one person feel one she/he discovered someone else on the same curiosity?” (Freire, 2001, p.81)

Egalitarian dialogue and instrumental dimension

Habermas’ communicative rationality (Morrison, 1995; Roth 2003) argues for the reduction of a technicist, controlling bureaucratisation and the increase in communication and a discursive, rational, ideological critique of irrational, curricular and pedagogic practices, by, for example: developing students’ empowerment and freedoms; avoiding narrowly instrumental curricula; ensuring that education promotes equality and democracy; developing student autonomy, voice and cultural power; collaborative learning; developing aesthetic education and non-instrumental forma of rationally; developing flexibility and problem-solving abilities in students; critically interrogating cultural and environmental contexts in which personal and community based cultural biographies are embedded; developing negotiated learning; addressing issues of equal opportunities; developing citizenship in participatory democracies; undertaking political education and politically sensitive issues; adopting a wide view of the ‘basics’ in curricula, where education is its own end rather than, serving other ends; and developing interactive communication, i.e. egalitarian dialogue in, and through, education.

When Dialogic Learning presents the principle of an Instrumental Dimension it should not be confused with the idea of “Instrumentality” of the technocratic colonisation of learning (the aforementioned narrowly instrumental curricula and the antagonist to aesthetic education). We should remind ourselves that each principle of Dialogic Learning has a very close tie with egalitarian dialogue, meaning that:

“Instrumental Learning becomes more intense and profound when situated in an adequate dialogical framework. The ability to select and process information is the cognitive tool that best enables one to function confidently in today’s society. Dialogue and reflection encourage the development of ability. Relationships with other people put not only diverse information but also its selection and processing at our disposal” (...) “When dialogue is egalitarian, it encourages intense reflection, since people need to understand others positions and express their own” (...) “That is, it eschews procedures and ends that are not decided by the people, but are decided by a minority, protecting itself behind technical arguments that obscure its exclusionary interest.” (Flecha, 2000, p.16)

In education without dialogue, every single item becomes a target for power claims, even methods and instruments for learning, and, therefore, the bureaucratisation of those elements is inevitable. There is no education here, only domestication (Freire, 2001). With egalitarian dialogue, validity claims come to the fore, clearing the path for real learning, with freedom, choice (Roth, 2003), decision, and possibilities that are only in the realm of the possible because they can also be denied, despised, or refused. For this reason the Instrumental Dimension of Dialogic Learning can never be purely instrumental. It must also necessarily be ethical, respectful, characterised by a sense of solidarity. Habermas provides a clue of why this instrumental dimension became more accessible in his conclusions to the Theory of Communicative Action:

“The theory of modernity that I have here sketched in broad strokes us to recognize the following: In modern societies there is such an expansion of the scope of contingency for interaction loosed from normative contexts that the inner logic of communication action ‘becomes practically true’ in the deinstitutionalized forms of intercourse of the familial sphere as well as in the public sphere stamped by the mass media. At the same time, the systemic imperatives of autonomous subsystems penetrate into the lifeworld and, through monetarization and bureaucratization, force an assimilation of communicative action to formally organized domains of action – even in areas where the action-coordinating mechanism of reaching understanding is functionally necessary. It may be that this provocative threat, this challenge that places the symbolic structures of the lifeworld as a whole a question, can account for why they have become accessible to us.” (Habermas 2004b, p. 403)

Cognisant of the notion of egalitarian dialogue, the instrumental dimension begins to break up the existing and established educational structure, but always provocative with one principle that defines the ‘food’ of dialogue: solidarity.

Egalitarian dialogue and solidarity

Solidarity feeds dialogue, but at the same time, egalitarian dialogue, as essential communication, must underlie any act of solidarity (Freire, 1970). A classic example of this is the solidarity of women among themselves, a solidarity which has as its aim to effectively criticise the exclusion of certain groups of women; an exclusion brought about via power claims exercised by a minority of women who essentially reproduce the same values as that of ‘macho’ authority. This act of solidarity is not limited in its effect to mere criticism but moves into the realm of solving the problem, through the principles of Dialogic Learning (De Botton et al, 2005).

Dialogic Learning’s emphasis on solidarity as the wheel which drives this perspective on education can be evidenced in the Spanish Learning Communities. For instance, the School for Adults, La Verneda-Sant Martí (Sanchez, 1999; Flecha, 2000) is another space for solidarity. The gatherings are one activity of the adult centre, solidly integrated into the neighbourhood. As part of a co-ordinating committee, the group participates in the discussions to improve the lives of everyone. All discussions are based on the principle of egalitarian dialogue:

“Egalitarian educational practises must be grounded in conceptions of solidarity. Habermas’ communicative action theory, Freire’s emancipatory perspective, CREA’s dialogical learning proposal, and many other theories and practices resoundingly affirm that democracy, equality, peace, and sexual freedom are more desirable than dictatorship, inequality, war, and rape.” (Flecha, 2000, p.20)

Solidarity must be understood as an act not only to detect the problem, but to solve it; not only denouncing the process of dehumanisation, but announcing the dream of a new society (Freire, 2001). It is necessary to go beyond rebellious attitudes to a more radically critical and dialogical position, implying a transformation of oneself, of institutions, of the world. Solidarity is the sharing of feeling and the gratitude existent in perpetuating on all egalitarian dialogues promoted by Dialogic Learning, changing each participant view of the true educational process and consequently, their lifeworld.

Egalitarian dialogue and transformation

“I had never gone to school... and when they decided to start the literacy circle they told me ‘why don’t you come?’ and I had never been in such a thing, and I said, ‘I don’t even know what this is!’ and we started with a book, and in so little time, I say ‘my God!’ I had never thought I would be able to read like that! (Reme, participant, in Soler, 2001)

Egalitarian Dialogue imposes several personal transformations, from discovering one’s own cultural intelligence to learning to respect others, to listen to others, and to develop dialogic silence. As well as all this, the ‘instrumental object’ to be learned, whether biology, music, mathematics or literature, in learnt via a completely new interactive perspective, a new dimension, where one can realise the equality of differences as reality and not be afraid of it, creating meaning for her/his own way to live together, sharing knowledge, and producing, through dialogic creativity and curiosity new ways to learn and relearn the object of the study. The transformation implies cultural transference without intransigent, authoritarian claims, without power claims imposing colonisation, but with validity claims to help each other with such transference, transforming the lifeworld, making the dialectical behaviour of transformation, with a continuous dynamic renewing the objects and subjects of egalitarian dialogue, change of the sense of being in the world:

“In other words, our being in being in the world is far more than just ‘being’. It is a ‘presence’, a ‘presence’ that is relational to the world and to others. A ‘presence’ that, in recognizing another presence as ‘not I,’ recognizes its own self. A ‘presence’ that can reflect upon itself, that knows as presence, that can intervene, can transform (...)” (Freire, 2001, p.25-25)

This personal change becomes a social transformation once education is approached as a human act, contributing to the building of a solid autonomy, not only for students, not only for teachers, but for their relatives, their neighbourhood, their community, and society. There is no socio-political transformation if is not grounded in an understanding of the human person as a maker of history (Freire, 2004) and as one made by history, if it does not respect men and women as beings of dialogue, with decision, rupture, option. On the basis of the knowledge, that “to change things is difficult but possible” (Freire 2001), people can define how to learn and consequently, how to teach.


Egalitarian dialogue illustrates the dialectical human nature through the other principles of Dialogic Learning, promoting what Habermas says about the relationship between private and civic autonomy:

“The demand to orient oneself to the common good, which is connected with political autonomy, is also a rational expectation insofar as only the democratic process guarantees that private individuals will achieve an equal enjoyment of their equal individual liberties. Conversely, only when the private autonomy of individuals is secure are citizens in a position to make correct use of their political autonomy.” (Habermas, 2001, p.780)

Recognising their own cultural intelligence, and then respecting the differences of others’ cultural intelligence, egalitarian dialogue gives autonomy to individuals to deal with equality of differences, encouraging the creation of meaning of each individual, developing solidarity with themselves, creating news instrumental dimensions to teach, realising that there is no teaching without learning. This interdependence between teaching and learning brings a dynamic social equilibrium with constant social transformation, promoting a comprehensive critical education, transforming this conclusion into a new introduction to another discussion, conscious of the unfinished nature of the human process of learning, based on egalitarian dialogue, the communicative action.


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* WEBER, M. (1969) La ética protestante y el espíritu del capitalismo (Barcelona, Península)

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