The Global Legacy
Chapter Twenty-Five: A Dialogue About Dialogue: Freire and Bakhtin Talk Pedagogy in Response to Percy’s “Problem”
A Dialogue About Dialogue: Freire and Bakhtin Talk Pedagogy in Response to Percy’s “Problem”
LEON BENADE AND E. JAYNE WHITE
In the paper “The Problem With Percy” (Bailin, 1999), a teacher laments the fate of her graduate student, Percy, who is having difficulty in a graduate class that requires him to engage in critical writing. Percy’s problem, according to Bailin, is that he is unable to engage in critical thinking. Her claim is based on his inability to consistently conceptualise, argue, and theorise ideas in his writing. Bailin asserts that this problem goes beyond the acquisition and practice of skills or the demonstration of a disposition to critical thinking. Thus, the problem is not about Percy’s ability to conceptualise ideas or his disposition to inquire (although she suggests that Percy may lack a “critical spirit” [p. 164]). His problem, she suggests, is epistemological—“he does not understand the enterprise of knowledge creation and evaluation” (p. 164). She argues that there are moral reasons educators should encourage students to develop the ability and disposition to evaluate reasons, justify claims, and make judgments. This justification resides in a preference for these activities over those acting out of “image, intuition or authority” (p. 168), and is particularly important in the context of “a flight from reason,…spread of religious fundamentalism,…proliferation of new age philosophy” and postmodernist rejection of rationality (p. 169). For Bailin, the solution for Percy lies in an...