Productive classroom dialogue as an activity of shared thinking and communicating: A commentary on Marsal

Mind, Culture, and Activity: An International Journal | Chiel van der Veen, Claudia van Kruistum, Sarah Michaels

In Eva Marsal’s article, a model is presented that teaches children to philosophize by acquiring a set of skills in step-by-step exercises. In the classroom examples that Marsal provides, however, it remains unclear how teachers support the kinds of thinking and philosophizing that her Five Finger Model aims to promote. This is why, in response to Eva Marsal’s article, we argue that productive classroom dialogue can be seen as a complementary approach that supports teachers in bringing dialogue into their classrooms. As its aim is to promote children’s “meaningful learning and cultural development in an emancipatory way” (van Oers, 2012a, p. 59), it enables them to do more than appropriate or reconstruct conventional cultural meanings. Through productive classroom dialogue, children learn how to collaboratively progress in communicating, thinking, and understanding. As such, we believe it to be a suitable context for philosophizing with children that goes beyond step-by-step exercises. In this commentary, we subsequently elaborate the notion of productive classroom dialogue and discuss how it interanimates with Marsal’s Five Finger Model.