Characteristics of classroom communication
The critical role of language for learning is now long established. Some influential texts, now classics, include:
- Barnes, D., Britton, J. and Rosen, H. (1969) Language, the Learner and the School, Harmonsworth: Penguin.
- Britton, J. (1993) Language and Learning, London: Heinemann
When we examine classroom interaction closely, a number of characteristics can be identified. These can provide important clues to the views of learning being expressed as well as the nature and quality of the teaching and learning processes being observed. If, for example, a teacher sees knowledge as content (as existing, prescribed subject-matter which pupils are required to accept), then the communication will be mainly transmission and assessment will also predominate. However, if the teacher takes a social constructivist view and sees knowledge as existing in the learner’s ability to interpret, then communication will be interactive, and there will be negotiation between the teacher’s knowledge and the learner’s knowledge. Talk and writing will be collaborative and exploratory, and will support the struggle to understand as new knowledge is related to the learner’s ‘action knowledge’.
For insights into how we use language to think and get things done, the following draw on real-life language use within and beyond the classroom:
- Mercer, N. (2000) Words and Minds: How We Use Language To Think Together, London: Routledge.
- Bearne, E., Dombey, H., and Grainger, T. (Eds) (2003) Classroom Interactions in Literacy, Berkshire: Open University Press.
To view the point about the centrality of language and imagination in a different and very engaging way, see:
- Paley, G. V. (1981) Wally's Stories, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.