Isolated Dialogue: Considerations of lockdown on dialogic spaces

Anneleis Humphries, University of Melbourne

This presentation will examine the role of dialogue and social relations in learning and well-being, using Paulo Freire's notion of conscientisation to understand and consider some of the ways in which this has been impacted with the ongoing restrictions, particularly for young people and their education. Pre-COVID research identified the importance of dialogue for conscientisation. Drawing on discussions from groups of young adolescents, the research identified how creating an environment of trust and acceptance opens opportunities for new and broadened understandings of the world. In particular, many shared about newfound understandings of their peers interest in discussion around issues of social justice and desire to contribute to social transformation. While these discussions are atypical for these young people, it does raise questions about the role of social dialogue in educational endeavours. Specific to COVID, it raises questions about the changing role of social dialogue in young people's learning, amidst global lockdowns and home schooling. While teachers have had a steep learning curve to ensure students educational outcomes remain, to the greatest extent possible, unaffected, other aspects of the school and learning environment may not have been paid the same level of attention. Learning can often be teacher-centred, with online learning likely heightening this effect. Additionally, spaces for socialising, such as recess and lunch breaks, have all but disappeared as a space for engaging young people socially.


  Bio: Anneleis Humphries is a PhD candidate with a focus on young people and voice at the Youth Research Centre at The Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. She has been involved in youth empowerment programs for over a decade, and views young people as integral to community building initiatives. Her research interests include community building and youth engagement, with a particular interest in early adolescent engagement.