Picture: Conversation by timrb. Sourced from Flickr and reproduced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)  licence.

Dialogue and conversation  for learning, education and change. ‘Dialogue’, Freire says, ‘is the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world’. Here we explore this idea – and its roots.

Contentsintroduction · Gadamer – horizons of understanding · emotions and virtues · Habermas: dialogue, power and distortion · Bohm on dialogue · dialogue and conversation for learning, education and change · conclusion · further reading · how to reference this piece

Conversation and dialogue are not simply the means that educators and animators use, but are also  what educators and animators should seek to cultivate in local life. They may be approached as relationships to enter rather than simply as methods. We focus on the thinking of four people in particular:

  • Paulo Freire – with whom the notion of dialogue has been linked as an educational form;
  • Hans-Georg Gadamer – the philosopher who uses the metaphor of conversation to think about how we may come to understand the subject matter at issue; and
  • Jürgen Habermas – the social theorist who argues for the need for ‘ideal speech situations’ in fostering both understanding and a humane collective life.’[A] humane collective life’, he said (1985: 82), ‘depends on vulnerable forms of innovation-bearing, reciprocal and unforcedly egalitarian everyday communication’.
  • David Bohm – the eminent physicist and friend of Krishnamurti, whose example and practical proposals for dialogue have met a response from a number of different areas – but particularly those, like Peter Senge, who are concerned with organizational development.

Martin Buber has also made a significant contribution to the appreciation of encounter and dialogue in education.

Gadamer – horizons of understanding

I want to begin by approaching conversation as a way of coming to an understanding (sometimes called a dialogic structure of understanding). This particular way of approaching matters is linked to the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer. He describes conversation thus:

[It] is a process of two people understanding each other. Thus it is a characteristic of every true conversation that each opens himself to the other person, truly accepts his point of view as worthy of consideration and gets inside the other to such an extent that he understands not a particular individual, but what he says. The thing that has to be grasped is the objective rightness or otherwise of his opinion, so that they can agree with each other on a subject. (Gadamer 1979: 347)

In conversation, knowledge is not a fixed thing or commodity to be grasped. It is not something ‘out there’ waiting to be discovered. Rather, it is an aspect of a process. It arises out of interaction. The metaphor that Gadamer uses is that of the horizon. He argues that we each bring prejudices (or pre-judgments) to encounters. We have, what he calls, our own ‘horizon of understanding’. This is ‘the range of vision that includes everything that can be see from a particular vantage point’ (ibid: 143). With these pre-judgments and understandings we involve ourselves in what is being said. In conversation we try to understand a horizon that is not our own in relation to our own. We have to put our own prejudices (pre-judgments) and understandings to the test. ‘Only by seeking to learn from the ‘other’, only by fully grasping its claims upon one can it be critically encountered’ (Bernstein 1991: 4). We have to open ourselves to the full power of what the ‘other’ is saying. ‘Such an opening does not entail agreement but rather the to-and-fro play of dialogue’ (op cit). We seek to discover other peoples’ standpoint and horizon. By so doing their ideas become intelligible, without our necessarily having to agree with them (Gadamer 1979: 270), we can come to terms with the other (Crowell 1990: 358).

The concern is not to ‘win the argument’, but to advance understanding and human well being. Agreement cannot be imposed, but rests on common conviction (Habermas 1984: 285-287). In this, the understanding we bring from the past is tested in encounters with the present and forms what we take into the future (Louden 1991: 106). We experience a ‘fusion of horizons’.

The horizon of the present is being continually formed, in that we have continually to test all our prejudices. An important part of that testings is the encounter with the past and the understanding of the tradition from which we come… In a tradition this process of fusion is continually going on, for there old and new continually grow together to make something of living value, without either being explicitly distinguished from the other. (Gadamer 1979: 273)

Whether ‘fusion’ is quite the right word is a matter of debate. It does not quite fit the ‘ruptures that dis-turb our attempts to reconcile different ethical-political horizons’ (Bernstein 1991: 10). However, what we do know is that in that ‘moment’ our own horizon is enriched and we gain knowledge of ourselves.

Emotions and virtues

For there to be dialogue in the dictionary or etymologically sense we look to dia meaning two or between or across and logos speech or ‘what is talked about’. Dialogue is , thus, speech across, between or through two people. It entails a particular kind of relationship and interaction. In this sense it is not so much a specific communicative form of question and answer, ‘but at heart a kind of social relation that engages its participants’ (Burbules 1993: 19). It entails certain virtues and emotions. Burbules lists some of these:

  • concern. In being with our partners in conversation, to engage them with us, there is more going on than talk about the overt topic. There is a social bond that entails interest in, and a commitment to the other.
  • trust. We have to take what others are saying on faith – and there can be some risk in this.
  • respect. While there may be large differences between partners in conversation, the process can go on if there is mutual regard. This involves the idea that everyone is equal in some basic way and entails a commitment to being fair-minded, opposing degradation and rejecting exploitation.
  • appreciation. Linked to respect, this entails valuing the unique qualities that others bring.
  • affection. Conversation involves a feeling with, and for, our partners.
  • hope. While not being purely emotional, hope is central. We engage in conversation in the belief that it holds possibility. Often it is not clear what we will gain or learn, but faith in the inherent value of education carries us forward.

So it is, Martin Buber believed, that real educators teach most successfully when they are not consciously trying to teach at all, but when they act spontaneously out of their own life. ‘Then he can gain the pupil’s confidence; he can convince the adolescent that there is human truth, that existence has a meaning. And when the pupil’s confidence has been won, ‘his resistance against being educated gives way to a singular happening: he accepts the educator as a person. He feels he may trust this man, that this man is taking part in his life, accepting him before desiring to influence him. And so he learns to ask….’ (Hodes 1972: 137).

Habermas: conversation, power and distortion

As soon as we think about what is required for a conversation – mutual trust, respect, a willingness to listen and risk one’s opinions – we can see that we have ‘a powerful regulative ideal that can orient our practical and political lives’ (Bernstein 1983: 163). This regulative ideal is what Habermas calls an ‘ideal speech situation’. This is a situation that where each has an effective equality of chances to take part in dialogue; where dialogue is unconstrained and not distorted. What the idea of an ideal speech situation does is to provide us with some ways of identifying and exploring the distortions that exist. Is it the case, as Freire suggests, that dialogue cannot occur between those who want to name the world, and those who do not want this naming; or between those who have been denied the right to speak, and those who deny the right (Freire 1972: 61)?

Writers such as Gadamer can be criticized for not fully addressing how great inequalities in power condition dialogue; or how the meanings of the words we use can be systematically distorted. This is certainly a point that Habermas took up with Gadamer in a famous series of exchanges. Dialogue does not require egalitarian relationships but is does entail some sort of reciprocity and symmetry. Otherwise the response we may make could be distorted by the concern that what we say may be used against us by the more powerful ‘partner’. Furthermore, we have to recognize that the language we have to use is itself limited and populated, in Baktin’s words, by other people’s intentions. Meanings associated with words can dispose to this understanding or that

Yet, problems of ideology and distortion can be addressed – hegemony can never be complete. In the movement of social relations, actions and ideas still have to be justified, people have to talk and be convinced. For as long as people require others to do their bidding, or to join with them in some enterprise, there has to be conversation, otherwise they cannot hope to fully achieve their aims. For subordinated groups the room for manoeuvre here may be small for much of the time, but in any system there are moments of crisis and dysfunction where voice takes on new meaning and levers can be placed under oppressors’ positions.

Once there is conversation there is hope. As Habermas argues, in dialogue there is a ‘gentle but obstinate, a never silent although seldom redeemed claim to reason’ (Habermas 1979: 3) (what Goffman calls the requirement to demonstrate sanity). However distorted our ways of communicating are, there is within their structures a ‘stubbornly transcending power’ (Habermas 1979: 3).

When we assert a belief that we hold, we also offer an implied promise to provide at least some of the evidence and reasons behind that belief, if asked. We may not be asked; we may not be able to provide those reasons fully; and we may not convince others if we do – but by making the assertion we commit ourselves to that broader obligation. (Burbules 1993: 75)

The claims each and every statement has to make as to its own validity hold some possibility of dialogue and hence of furthering understanding.

Bohm on dialogue

David Bohm (1917-1992) was a distinguished physicist best known for his work on the fundamentals of quantum theory and relativity theory and their implications for other fields. His approach was distinctive:  he saw science as ‘a quest for truth, and, in this spirit, he unpacked and revealed the epistemological foundations of science (in his study of order), and he utilized these insights to conceive a profound ontological hypothesis (the holomovement and implicate orders)’ (Keepin 1993). We do not need to go into the detail of this here, but we should note that he sees ‘reality’ as involving ‘unbroken wholeness in flowing movement’. Thought could be seen largely as a collective phenomenon: ‘As with electrons, we must look on thought as a systematic phenomena arising from how we interact and discourse with another (quoted by Senge 1990: 240). Will Keepin (1995) comments, ‘what is remarkable about Bohm’s hypothesis is that is it also consistent with spiritual wisdom down through the ages’.

This orientation allowed him to enter into a well-known dialogue (and friendship) with Jidhu Krishnamurti. Their explorations ranged widely including why humanity has made thought so important, cleansing the mind of ‘accumulation of time’, breaking the pattern of ego-centred activity and the wrong turn humanity has taken (Krishnamurti and Bohm 1985). One important outcome of this collaboration was David Bohm’s continuing interest in the cultivation of dialogue itself as a path to greater wisdom and learning.

Dialogue, as we are choosing to use the word, is a way of exploring the roots of the many crises that face humanity today. It enables inquiry into, and understanding of, the sorts of processes that fragment and interfere with real communication between individuals, nations and even different parts of the same organization. In our modern culture men and women are able to interact with one another in many ways: they can sing dance or play together with little difficulty but their ability to talk together about subjects that matter deeply to them seems invariable to lead to dispute, division and often to violence. In our view this condition points to a deep and pervasive defect in the process of human thought. (Bohm, Factor and Garrett 1991)

We are dealing with Dialogue with a capital ‘D’ here. Dialogue is set against discussion. ‘A key difference between a dialogue and an ordinary discussion is that, within the latter people usually hold relatively fixed positions and argue in favour of their views as they try to convince others to change. At best this may produce agreement or compromise, but it does not give rise to anything creative’ (Bohm and Peat 1987: 241). ‘The purpose of dialogue’, David Bohm suggests, ‘is to reveal the incoherence in our thought’. In so doing it becomes possible to discover or re-establish a ‘genuine and creative collective consciousness’.  The process of dialogue is a process of ‘awakening’, it entails a free flow of meaning among all the participants:

In the beginning, people were expressing fixed positions, which they were tending to defend, but later it became clear that to maintain the feeling of friendship in the group was much more important than to hold any position. Such friendship has an impersonal quality in the sense that its establishment does not depend on a close personal relationship between participants. A new kind of mind thus beings to come into being which is based on the development of a common meaning that is constantly transforming in the process of the dialogue. People are no longer primarily in opposition, nor can they be said to be interacting, rather they are participating in this pool of common meaning which is capable of constant development and change. In this development the group has no pre-established purpose, though at each moment a purpose that is free to change may reveal itself. The group thus begins to engage in a new dynamic relationship in which no speaker is excluded, and in which no particular content is excluded. Thus far we have only begun to explore the possibilities of dialogue in the sense indicated here, but going further along these lines would open up the possibility of transforming not only the relationship between people, but even more, the very nature of consciousness in which these relationships arise. (Bohm 1987: 175)

We can see some well-trodden themes here – such as the exploratory nature of the process, its unpredictability and the extent to which we are led by it, rather than us leading it. As Bohm et. al. (1991) put it, ‘no firm rules can be laid down for conducting a Dialogue because its essence is learning… as part of an unfolding process of creative participation between peers’.

David Bohm sets out three basic conditions for Dialogue:

Participants must suspend their assumptions. ‘What is essential here is the presence of the spirit of dialogue, which is in short, the ability to hold many points of view in suspension, along with a primary interest in the creation of common meaning’ (Bohm and Peat 1987: 247). Suspending an assumption does not mean ignoring it, but rather ‘holding it in front of us’ ready for exploration. (This links very closely with Gadamer’s view of pre-judgements).

Participants must view each other as colleagues or peers. Dialogue occurs when people appreciate that they are involved in a mutual quest for understanding and insight. ‘A Dialogue is essentially a conversation between equals’ (Bohm et. al. 1991).

In the early stages there needs to be a facilitator who ‘holds the context’ of dialogue. ‘Their role should be to occasionally point out situations that might seem to be presenting sticking points for the group, in other words, to aid the process of collective proprioception, but these interventions should never be manipulative nor obtrusive’ (Bohm et. al. 1991). They continue, ‘guidance, when it is felt to be necessary, should take the form of “leading from behind” and preserve the intention of making itself redundant as quickly as possible’.

He and his associates also make some concrete suggestions concerning the size of groups involved in Dialogue (around 20-40 people), and the duration of the process (it takes some time to get going).

David Bohm’s linkage of dialogue with the possibilities of glimpsing a deeper order in things, and of connecting with ‘unbroken wholeness in flowing movement’ is very reminiscent of Martin Buber’s account of the possibilities of encounter between ‘man and man’. The recognition of the need for facilitation also has some echoes in Buber’s belief in the need for a ‘builder’ in communities.

A significant factor in the appeal of Bohm’s vision was the promise that Dialogue could increase and enrich corporate activity – in part through the exploration and questioning of ‘inherent, predetermined purposes and goals’ (Bohm et. al. 1991). There was a clear parallel here with Argyris and Schön’s work on double-loop learning, but interestingly one of his associates has subsequently suggested that their view was too optimistic: ‘dialogue is very subversive’ (Factor 1994).

No organization wants to be subverted. No organization exists to be dissolved. An organization is, by definition a conservative institution. If you didn’t want to conserve something, why would you organize? Even if an organization runs into serious trouble – if, perhaps, its market or reason for existence vanishes – there remains a tremendous resistance to change. (And, by the way, our larger culture is also an organization.) I suggest that the most one can hope for is a change in the more superficial elements which would naturally occur as an organization co-opts … some of dialogue’s ethic of inquiry. And maybe that is all that is required to accomplish its aims. But any deeper change, any change that might threaten the very meaning and therefore the existence of the organization or its power relations would tend to be rejected – perhaps subtly and tacitly – because such vulnerability would not only be threatening to those within the group, but almost certainly to those who perceive from without – perhaps from higher up the corporate ladder – what this subgrouping of their organization is getting up to. (Factor 1994)

The presentation of clear guidelines, the publication of actual dialogues, and Bohm’s social and spiritual concern struck a chord. It led to the his work being used by a number of key writers especially around organizational development e.g. Senge (1990), to the formation of groups to engage in ‘Bohmian dialogue’ (and a thriving web community), and a Dialogue Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His particular innovation was to link Dialogue into a view of ‘reality’ as involving ‘unbroken wholeness in flowing movement’.

Dialogue and conversation

I want to finish by putting dialogue and conversation side by side. For much of the time as local educators we are talking in an everyday way about children, television, school, the lack of things to do. What we might readily identify as ‘conversation’. It all seems a bit pale when compared with the process Freire (1972) describes as dialogue. Through dialogue people are supposed to create new understandings which are ‘explicitly critical and aimed at action, wherein those who were formally illiterate now begin to reject their role as mere “objects” in nature and social history and undertake to become “subjects” of their own destiny” (Goulet 1974: viii).

Yet we overlook two aspects here at our peril. First, the very fact that much of the subject matter is the stuff of everyday life means there always is the possibility of unmasking the taken-for-granted. We can ask why things are as they are in relationships; or why is it that there is so little provision in a neighbourhood. Second, and crucially, conversation like dialogue is, at heart, ‘a kind of social relation that engages its participants’ (Burbules 1993: 19). The act of engaging with another – whatever the subject matter – is significant in itself. The process entails the same virtues and emotions such as concern, trust, respect, appreciation, affection and hope (ibid: 36-46).

We should, therefore, not make too much of the differences between conversation and dialogue. In common sense terms dialogue could be seen as a form of conversation – a particular ‘serious’ format. For us as informal and community educators a focus on conversation rather than dialogue is, perhaps, more useful. First, most workers I do not, for the most part, describe their interactions in terms of dialogue. Instead we use words like talk, chat and conversation. At this basic level it is perhaps useful to stay as close to worker’s vocabulary as possible.

Second, when we analyze the types of activities that informal and community educators are involved in, the word conversation seems appropriate and to allow the necessary fluidity. Describing an exchange about the state of the kitchen or the price of children’s clothes as dialogue sounded rather pretentious. It is more comfortable to talk about different forms of conversation: some were ‘passing’, some were ‘playful’, some were ‘serious’. One tends to flow into another – they were, in effect, changing conversations.

Third, I do not want to privilege too strongly ‘serious conversation’. Yes, local educators engage in activities directed towards discovery and new understanding (what Burbules 1993: 8 describes as ‘dialogue’), but they are also concerned with being and belonging. Here, seemingly trivial exchanges are of central importance and if neglected lead to major problems. Dialogue in the sense that Freire uses the term is only one element of the work local educators do. We should remember that Freire’s pedagogy was constructed around formal educational situations. While Freire may not have been originally concerned with schooling, but with the less structured world of ‘non-formal’ education, the educational encounters he explores remain formal Torres (1993: 127). They remain curriculum-based and entail transforming settings into a particular type of pedagogical space.

There is a special danger here of unthinking application – that of the pedagogization or ‘schooling’ of the everyday (Street and Street 1991). As we have seen informal educators do not make use of a formal curriculum for much of their work. They work in settings not usually associated with education. Much of their conversation, as a result, is not immediately distinguishable from what might be said between friends or neighbours. This is the way it has to be – if they attempt to problematize things that are said in the way they might in a classroom or in some formal session, they would soon be shunned. They have to work within the boundaries set by ‘daily round’ to make openings for conversation.

In conclusion

Cultivating conversation lies at the centre of what informal educators do. It is not simply the form that their work takes, but also part of their purpose. Through conversation, testing out prejudices (prejudgments), searching out meaning, we become more critical. Language, discourse ‘exists not for the sake of expression alone but for the sake of the community it makes possible among those who become parties to it’ (Gunn 1992: 90). We become better able to name our feelings and thoughts, and place ourselves in the world. We can develop a language of critique and possibility which allows us to act (Giroux 1989: 208). We may even to be able, as Martin Buber would have put it, to glimpse God  in our encounters, or to catch the collective consciousness (Bohm 1997).

Recommended reading

Here I have tried to include a mix of texts – some of which deal with the everyday world of conversation, some with the practicalities of education and dialogue, and yet still others that explore the philosophical and political significance of conversation and dialogue. The choice is rich – and there were plenty of other texts that I could have included.

Bohm, D., Factor, D. and Garrett, P. (1991) ‘Dialogue – a proposal’, the informal education archives. David Bohm’s championship of dialogue as a means of going beyond individual understanding has been influential in a number of circles. This 1991 paper sets out the main elements of his thinking and the mechanics of his approach. See, also, Bohm, D. (1997) On dialogue edited by Lee Nichol, London: Routledge.

Burbules, N. (1993) Dialogue in Teaching. Theory and practice, New York: Teachers College Press. 184 + xviii pages. Detailed and important exploration of the subject area. Chapters on why dialogue, why theory and practice?; the dialogical relation; playing the dialogue game; rules in the dialogue game; moves in the dialogue game; types of dialogue; and why dialogues fail.

Freire, P. (1972) Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Harmondsworth: Penguin. 153 pages. Classic account of dialogical / transformative education. See, also, the ‘talking book’ – P. Freire and I. Shor (1987) A Pedagogy for Liberation. Dialogues on transforming education, London: Macmillan. 203 + xiii pages.

Gadamer, H-G. (1979) Truth and Method, London: Sheed and Ward. 552 + xvi pages. Brilliant discussion of conversation, understanding, hermeneutics and praxis. New edition now available. For a good introduction see the opening section of his (1976) Philosophical Hermeneutics, Berkeley: University of California Press. 243 + lviii pages.

Goffman, E. (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, London: Penguin. 251 pages. Views social encounters as a dramatic performance in which people use various props, and act in ‘teams’. For an overall assessment and exposition of his work see T. Burns (1992) Erving Goffman, London: Routledge. 386 + viii pages. Another possibility is C. Lemert and A. Branamamn (eds.) The Goffman Reader, Oxford: Blackwell. 278 + lxxxi pages. With a couple of substantial and interesting pieces, this collection includes key extracts and some important articles such as ‘The interaction order’ and ‘Felicity’s condition’.

Habermas, J. (1984) The Theory of Communicative Action Volume 1, Cambridge: Polity Press. 463 + xxxix pages. Includes an important discussion of ‘ideal speech situations’ and communicative action. For an introduction, see M. Pusey (1987) Jürgen Habermas, London: Tavistock (now Routledge). 128 pages

Haroutinian-Gordon, S. (1991) Turning the Soul. Teaching through conversation in the high school, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Excellent discussion of the use of conversation in education.

Malone, M. J. (1997) Worlds of Talk. The presentation of self in everyday conversation, Cambridge: Polity. 182 + xiv pages. As the title suggests this book picks up on Erving Goffman’s insights about the interaction order to our self-presentations in talk – the process of ‘crafting our behaviour’ so that it makes sense to others. Malone uses conversation analysis to discover how selves are ‘created and transformed in everyday talk. There are chapters on the interactional order and the self; the foundations of interactionism; the construction of conversations; gender and talk; doing things with friends; and disagreements.

Mercer, N. (1995) The Guided Construction of Knowledge. Talk among teachers and learners, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. 135 + ix pages. Focuses on the talk around people who help others to learn. Chapters examine ways of talking; guidance strategies; the learner’s angle; a theory of practice; talking and working together; and teachers, researchers and the construction of knowledge.

Tannen, D. (1989) Talking Voices. Repetition, dialogue and imagery in conversational discourse, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 180 + xi pages. Any of Deborah Tannen’s books are worth reading – but this book is a fascinating study of the rhythm and imagery of conversation. For a popular introduction see her (1992) That’s Not What I Mean!, London: Virago; or (1992) You Just Don’t Understand. Women and men in conversation, London: Virago. 330 pages.

Vella, J. (1994) Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach. The power of dialogue in educating adults, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 224 pages. Practical guide organized around 12 basic principles of adult learning that are supposed to transcend cultural differences.

Wardhaugh, R. (1985) How Conversation Works, Oxford: Blackwell. 230 pages. Still the best introduction to conversational process that I have come across. Chapters examine the social basis of talk; locating an agenda; co-operation and playing the game; beyond and behind words; context; getting started and keeping going; topics, turns and terminations; and requesting, informing, advising, agreeing, apologizing, promising.

Zeldin, T. (1998) Conversation: How Talk Can Change Your Life, London: Harvill Press. A short and somewhat quirky book that, nevertheless, manages to convey some of the trials and excitement of engaging in conversation, whether for pleasure, self-education or work. It is the text of a series of six talks broadcast by BBC Radio Four.

Other references

Bernstein, R. J. (1983) Beyond Objectivism and Relativism. Science, hermeneutics and praxis, Oxford: Blackwell.

Bernstein, R. J. (1991) The New Constellation. The ethical-political horizons of modernity/postmodernity, Cambridge: Polity.

Bohm, D. (1980) Wholeness and the implicate order. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul (New edition 1995, Routledge).

Bohm, D. (1987) Unfolding meaning: A weekend of dialogue with David Bohm, London: Ark. (Republished 1996 by Routledge)

Bohm, D. (1997) On dialogue edited by Lee Nichol, London: Routledge. (Extended version of 1990. On dialogue. Ojai, Calif.: David Bohm Seminars)

Bohm, D., and Peat, D. (1987) Science, order, and creativity, New York: Bantam.

Crowell, S. G. (1990) ‘Dialogue and text: re-marking the difference’ in T. Maranhao (ed.) The Interpretation of Dialogue, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Factor, D. (1994) On Facilitation and Purpose, http://www.muc.de/~heuvel/dialogue/facilitation_purpose.html

Giroux, H. A. (1983) Theory and Resistance in Education. A pedagogy for the opposition, London: Heinemann.

Habermas, J. (1979) Communication and the Evolution of Society (trans. T. McCarthy), London: Heinemann.

Hodes, A. (1972) Encounter with Martin Buber, London: Allen Lane/Penguin. 245 pages. (Also published as Martin Buber: An Intimate Portrait, Viking Press, New York, I971).

Keepin, W. (1991) Lifework of David Bohm – River of Truth, http://www.shavano.org/html/bohm.html

Krishnamurti, J. and Bohm, D. (1985) The Ending of Time, New York: HarperCollins

Louden, W. (1991) Understanding Teaching. Continuity and change in teacher’s’ knowledge, London: Cassell.

Peat, F. D. (1997) Infinite Potential. The life and times of David Bohm, Addison-Wesley.

Senge, P. (1990) The Fifth Discipline. The art and practice of the learning organization, London: Random House.

Smith, M. K. (1994) Local Education, Buckingham: Open University Press.

Taylor, P. V. (1993) The Texts of Paulo Freire, Buckingham: Open University Press.

Torres, C. A. (1993) ‘From the Pedagogy of the Oppressed to A Luta Continua: the political pedagogy of Paulo Freire’ in P. McLaren and P. Leonard (eds.) Freire. A critical encounter, London: Routledge.


Selected Websites on Dialogue  – listing by the Union of International Associations.

Acknowledgement: Picture: Conversation by timrb. Sourced from Flickr and reproduced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)  licence. http://www.flickr.com/photos/55444602@N00/217448857/

How to reference this piece: Smith, M. K. (2001) ‘Dialogue and conversation’, the encyclopaedia of informal education. [http://infed.org/mobi/dialogue-and-conversation/. Retrieved: enter date].

© Mark K. Smith 2001

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