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IPP1: Exploring development themes through the use of talk in the classroom (dialogic teaching)
[relevant to English, CSPE, Modern Languages]

Introducing the text

We choose two short film clips, ‘White Dress’ by Vanessa Gildea and ‘Memory’s Day’, produced by ILRI Films (see film clips below). Both are short film clips. Short texts like these can work very well in class. They condense narratives and allow in-depth analysis across a short time span. Each text deals with a day in the life of a young girl, one a seven-year-old, and the other an older teenager/ young adult. The texts have different locations, Dublin and Malawi, and different perspectives of the young girls’ worlds.

In the following video, Carmel Hinchion explains the selection of these texts.

The generative question that we choose to follow in the text (and which informs and guides the enquiry) was the following:

What type of world are these girls living in?
(What do you notice about the worlds they live in and what is your response)

Supplementary questions that we used to generate responses, to prompt articulation, and open up exploratory talk included:

  • Why are their worlds like this?
  • What beauty can you see in the worlds?
  • What difficulties do these worlds show?
  • Are there any parts of these worlds you would like for your own world?
  • How does your own world compare?

Central to working with these texts was the concept of ‘dwelling’ so that we can experience their nuances and texture. We did not want just ‘the tourist gaze’ but to immerse ourselves in everyday narrative and minute detail. We aimed to get to know the characters, settings and events. This approach has been influenced by the work of Dennis Sumara and Deborah Britzman who believe that we learn to read our own minds by learning to read other minds. Ultimately Development Education aims to understand other minds and worlds, and in that way this reading impacts our own responses and actions. It is slow, thoughtful, interpretative work.

The White Dress

Source: Irish Film Board

The White Dress is the story of a girl on her communion day, but unlike most other little girls, she is on her own on this important day.

Memory's Day

Source: ILRI Films

This documentary follows a teenage girl in rural Malawi through a typical day. Her challenges are those of hundreds of millions of other girls around the developing world.