Benefits and Challenges of Using Dialogue-based Pedagogy for the Gender Education of Pre-service Teachers

Krupa Anilkumar   | 2023


Gender-just classrooms are imperative to realising a gender-just society. Patriarchal gender norms are often reproduced and perpetuated in schools through biased curriculum, gendered textbooks, hidden curriculum and even gendered views of those who educate. The key to a gender equitable classroom is a gender conscious teacher. To begin our engagement on the subject, we analysed the gender component in the curriculum of the elementary teacher education programme offered at District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET) under the Kerala State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT). The curriculum was found to offer very limited engagement with just one chapter on gender under the topic of inclusive education in the third semester of the programme. This was in contrast to the National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE) 2009 guidelines which requires at least one full paper on gender in a teacher education programme.

The analysis also revealed that the existing chapter on gender with highly didactic and contextually alien content was not sufficient to help pre-service teachers to reflect on and understand the gender norms that they experience and even perform or perpetuate in their day-to-day lives. The chapter also did not offer any description of various theoretical perspectives on gender. To address these limitations, we developed a dialogue-based pedagogy that could engage pre service teachers critically with issues and concerns of gender to cultivate gender consciousness among them. This was then used to work with students of Diploma in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed) at a DIET in Kerala. The approach was to use dialogic teaching methods to develop a safe space in the classroom for collectively negotiating gender. The learning outcome included development of critical understanding on the topic of gender and the development of dialogic  dispositions such as perspective-taking skills, collective reflection skills, neutral talking, articulation skills and so on. The engagement took place over two semesters. We collected data to understand the benefits and challenges of using dialogic pedagogy as an intervention to engage student-teachers critically with issues of gender and facilitate the development of a gender consciousness. The sample of the study was the entire class strength of 38 students in the age group of 19–35. Baseline, midline, and endline data were collected to assess the impact of the intervention. For the baseline and midline, the sample size remained the same. For the endline, a stratified sampling technique was used to probe deeper into the perspectives of students to understand the depth of impact. The nature of the data collected is mainly qualitative.