Dogme Blog Challenge #1 Co-construction

Materials-mediated teaching is the 'scenic' route to learning, 

but the direct route 
is located in the interactivity between teachers and learners, and between the learners themselves.

Learning is a social and dialogic process, 
where knowledge is co-constructed 
rather than transmitted or imported 
from teacher/coursebook to learner.

Luke Meddings & Scott Thornbury, Teaching Unplugged, Delta Teacher Development Series, 2009.

Plug and Play

What does that mean to you?

Answer in the comments below or if you happen to have a blog, do write your own post explaining how this affects you and your work as an English language teacher.

  • What is the 'scenic' route?  Why do Meddings and Thornbury suggest that materials-mediated teaching practice provides this?  Is there a subtext to what they're trying to communicate to us?
  • Why do Meddings and Thornbury suggest that the direct route to learning is, in fact, located in interactivity?
  • In your opinion, what do you think interactivity is - between teachers and learners?  And between learners themselves?  How do these differ?  Should they differ?
  • In your opinion is there any such thing as a direct route to language learning? Why, why not?
  • Do you think that learning is a social and dialogic process?  Justify your position or argue against.
  • Is knowledge co-constructed? What does it mean, exactly, to co-construct knowledge?

How to respond?

(Write a list or tell a story, 
compare lessons: dogme and non-dogme, 
relate an experience, a contrary opinion,
quote research, your own theory,
submit mere musings, rant...
share an idea, a paragraph, a dictionary's definition
come up with a clever sentence,
a beautiful photograph,
a video-log
an article or draft the bones of an essay, 
share examples from your own classroom experience...
In short, be dogmeic: personalize  your response!)

Can't wait to read your posts!

What is this about?  Read here
How to share your post on Twitter: Please add the hashtag #DBC_01  #dogmeme

How to share your fellow teachers' blog posts with each other?  Add/link to the blog(s) written on the subject on your post so they form a ring and your readers can travel on from post to post!

URLS which may be useful for your post
  • Teaching Unplugged:
  • Scott Thornbury's website + articles:
  • Scott Thornbury's blog:
  • Luke Meddings' blog:
  • Luke Meddings' on the Delta blog:
  • Dogme ELT in Wikipedia:
You can travel through each blog post easily via Furly (see orange navigation bar at the top of page)

Blog posts
Is this dogme? by Candy Von Ost
Interactivity and co-construction by Cecilia  Coehlo
What really matters? Our students by Sabrina de Vita
Interactivity and co-construction by Willy C. Cardosa
Dogme days by Diarmuid Fogarty
The importance of pair work by Nick Jaworski
No dogma for EFL by Jeremy Harmer
A response, by Andrew Pickles
Dogme for all, by Richard Whiteside
Where I stand on dogme by Natasa Grojic (also #4+#5)

Other challenges
Challenge #2 It's emergent?
Challenge #3 The scaffolding 
Challenge #4 Being Light 
Challenge #5 The Learners Voice
Challenge #6 NNEST vs NESTs

10 Responses to “Dogme Blog Challenge #1 Co-construction”

  • Glennie says:
    October 07, 2010

    Love the post, but I'm worried about that photo.

    I think you need an electrician.

    October 07, 2010

    it's all in the interactivity....

  • Peter Fenton says:
    October 08, 2010

    First of all, thanks for starting this discussion – it’s a really good opportunity to see where Dogme ELT is at and how it has evolved since the movement (if I can call it that) began.

    I have to say, that although there are loads of great quotes in Teaching Unplugged, this one isn’t really my favourite. Maybe I’m missing the point but I’m not sure that 'scenic route' and 'direct route' are a good choice of metaphors in this example. In fact, I would even argue that they should be the other way round.

    When I use a Dogme approach in my lessons; topics, conversations and discussions often go off at a tangent (a bit like a road diversion I would suggest) which doesn’t really square with Dogme being the ‘direct route’. Sometimes we explore places that we could never have predicted nor ever expected, but the journey is an interesting one nonetheless and all the better (and more scenic) for it.

    On the other hand, in many ways a coursebook is a lot like a motorway. Most of them look the same and the food (topics?) at the corporatised service stations is generally rather bland and tasteless, not to mention overpriced. What is more, the route is predetermined (a bit like the syllabus) with little room for diversions. Moreover, with a Dogme approach, my learners and I are often not even sure where the destination is, we just know that we’re going somewhere.

    Is one way quicker than the other? Well, I suppose it all depends on where you’re going. I would suggest that with the materials-mediated route, you get somewhere quicker (and hence a greater illusion of learning) but when you get there, you may find that you took a wrong turn at some point and have to turn back to find the best route to the ultimate destination.

    I’m not sure that I have time to answer all of your questions as I’d like to but I would like to say that although interactivity and social dialogue is most certainly a useful way to learn for many people, it is not the only way. Personally, I also like to learn through self-reflection and at times, I also like someone to lead me along the right path, or at least prod me in the right direction. So if there is to be a dialogic process, I prefer it to be with someone who is a bit better/has more knowledge than me and I think that many learners feel the same way. The trouble with this, is that depending on the size of the group, there may be little opportunity for learners to interact conversationally with their teacher in the same way, so where does that leave us? They must learn by other means too, surely?

  • Andrew Pickles says:
    October 12, 2010

    Thanks for the challenge Karenne and I've posted my response on my blog. This is a good idea and hopefully will help us to articulate exactly what we mean by Dogme and Unplugged!

    All the best


  • Luke Meddings says:
    October 14, 2010

    Hi Karenne

    Well of course I've been following this challenge with great interest, and I must admit that when I saw the first quote you'd chosen, I thought - whooh, tough choice!

    It's been good to see different interpretations, and it actually took me a few days to think of something useful to say. And then Diarmiud did it for me!

    Because I think it's all about the nature of the learning (and teaching) experience. Is it hands-on, are you involved, can you influence where things go next? Are you 'doing' language (or a country), or truly exploring it?

    It's been a very exciting week with your challenge, the responses and the ahem lively exchange on Jeremy's site, so I'm really looking forward to the next one.

    October 14, 2010

    It has, hasn't it! I've read most of the posts twice and even three things while thinking through my responses - and that while the big convo' happening on JH, 8hrs a day teaching, blogging for my students... personal life & friendships stuff - it's like a gigantic mixing bowl 'round here, I tell and I have learned SO MUCH this week!

    There's one I still have to get back to - it's terrifying in its intelligence:

    Interactivity and Co-construction by Willy Cardosa

    October 14, 2010

    Loved your post! Andrew, thanks so much for sharing it.


    October 14, 2010

    Hey Peter,
    Thank you back. I think that's really interesting that you thought they should be the other way around -I had the same thought too when deciding which of my highlighted sentences in the book should be challenge 1 (yes, Luke, had to start tough!) and I would have thought that it be the scenic route as dogme - looking around and enjoying the ride and LOL - the motorway with processed food on the direct route.

    Andrew's post,helped me understand what Luke and Scott may have intended to say the subtext perhaps is that it is pretty but not the point of the journey. as lots of books are real pretty but short on content, aren't they!

    Still I do think you made a strong point - thank so much for answering a question, I really appreciated thinking about your thoughts and glad you shared them with me/the dogme group.


  • David Warr says:
    October 19, 2010

    Hi Karenne
    To me, Dogme is most definitely the scenic route! Isn't the point of Dogme that you are allowed to, indeed should dwell on a word or phrase, the equivalent of taking a turn up a winding lane to see what's there, without a care in the world, knowing that you can return to the main road at any time? Tearing down the motorway towards Junction/Unit 5 by Christmas is no way to teach. On another (Dogme-related) issue, I read in one of your posts that you have videos of yourself teaching, but haven't got round to airing them. There do seem to be comments from teachers that they don't really understand how Dogme differs from a run-of-the-mill discussion that naturally develops in class (and I include myself in this too), an "is-it, isn't it?" debate running through this discourse. Seeing Dogme-style lessons could shed light on this. I was always fascinated by Suggestopedia, and went to one of Dr Lozanov's talks once, only to learn very little. High on claims, low on facts, I regret to say is how I came away from the gathering.

    October 19, 2010

    Thanks David!

    And you're right, I have to get around to processing those videos and uploading them into youtube - good kick up my butt... have changed computers and will have to find them but soon!



Visitors and Regular Readers


FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

Communities of Practice

Blog Archive

Directories, catalogs and Back Links

Adult Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory Add to Technorati Favorites

The EFL ESL Blog List - ESL/EFL/TEFL Teaching Jobs and Teacher Resumes

International Blogging Directory

Recent Posts

Simply Conversations

Pedagogically sound materials designed to get your students actively talking:

Free Samples
Conversation Control

General English
Business English

Learn more on why these work