Dialogical Literary Gathering

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Dialogical Literary Gathering

5. Dialogical Literary Gathering. Introduction

Dialogical literary gatherings are a cultural and educational activity that have their origin in Spain and that were born in an Adult School in Barcelona ("La Verneda-San Martí") during the 80s.

From that time on, literary gatherings spread quickly to other centres and organizations, being held in Infant, Primary and Secondary schools but also in parents association (PTAs), civic centers, libraries and other recreational spaces.

Although literary gatherings are one of the main educational successful performances taking place in schools belonging to the network of Learning Communities, all schools and organizations can benefit from them. Let us see how.

5.1. What are Dialogical Literary Gatherings?

Dialogical literary gatherings are one of the successful actions in inclusive schools developed in the so called Learning Communities. They involve a process of collective and dialogic reading and interpretation of texts in a context where all participants are invited to provide arguments based on validity criteria and not on power claims (CONFAPEA).

Dialogical literary gatherings are based on the dialogic learning approach that comprises the principles of (Aubert, Flecha, García, Flecha, & Racionero 2008):

  • Egalitarian dialogue: different contributions are considered and accepted on the basis of the validity of the arguments and not on hierarchical power.
  • Cultural intelligence: all people have knowledge, abilities and experiences acquired throughout life that allow them to interpret and evaluate the literary work that is being disscussed. The egalitarian dialogue allows to value the cultural intelligence of everyone, through respect for diversity of opinion.
  • Transformation: learning focuses on the personal and social change from a positive view of human beings. The participants change the concept of themselves as well as their relationships with people around them.
  • Instrumental dimension: what is learned must be helpful for accessing culture and foster autonomy and self-training.
  • Creation of meaning: promote meaningful learning in interaction with others.
  • Solidarity: dialogical literary gatherings are open to everyone regardless of the economic or cultural background. Equal relationships are those that generate more supportive relationships that imply respect, trust and solidarity.
  • Equality of differences: dialogical literary gathering respect the right of everyone to be different. We are all different and this makes us equal.            

In dialogical literary gatherings it is not intended to discover and analyze what the author meant in his or her text, but to encourage dialogue and reflection from the different interpretations that can arise from the reading of a classic of world literature.

5.2. What to read and Why


One of the basic keys in the development of a dialogical literary gathering is the reading of classics of world literature. Classics of world literature are literary works worldwide recognized as masterpieces of literature. They are also works that reflect in depth and with an exquisite quality the major issues that concern humanity: love, life, death, values, moral, religion, etc. Reading classic literature helps us to understand the universal culture and the history of societies, to think about the world and understand the past history to understand our present. These works are timeless and continue attracting people through generations.

Moreover, classics of world literature allow people who do not have academic training or a university degree to approach quality literature. In the case of children from cultural minorities, this kind of literature not only raises their cultural and learning level, but transforms the expectations of the environment towards academic possibilities, opening the door to academic success (Flecha 2000).

5.3. How to organize a Dialogical Literary Gathering

The following steps are needed to organize a dialogical literary gathering:

1) Establish the frequency of meetings: weekly, fortnightly or even monthly.

2) Choose a classic book of world literature and determine the number of pages to be read for the next meeting. In the case of young students adaptation of classics can be recommended.

3) Each person will read the agreed portion at home and will identify and underline those paragraphs, sentences or expressions that have drawn her or his attention. If books are not of property, notes will be taken on a separate pieces paper. In literary gatherings with young students, the assigned portion can be read in the classroom as a big group.

4) At the meeting, each person will read the sunderlined paraghaph and explain why he or she selected it, indicating agreement, disagreement, and establishing connections with her or his own experiencies and previous knowledge.

5) One of the attendees will assume the role of moderator. He or she will have the reponsibility to control speaking time and take notes of the ideas that arise during the discussion that will be read at the end of the meeting.

6) A new reading portion is assigned for the next day.   

5.4. Benefits of Dialogical Literary Gatherings

Dialogical literary gatherings offer a wide range of benefits among which the following can be mentioned:

    A) In the case of students:

  • Raise children's interest in reading.
  • Improve reading skills and literacy.
  • Increase communicative competence and the ability to argue and express personal reflections and ideas.
  • Promote solidarity, tolerance and respect toward others and their opinions.

    B) In the case of parents, families or adults in general:

  • Stimulate reading interest in people who have never read a book.
  • Encourage reflection and dialogue.
  • Attract families to the school centre to share reflective times and spaces.
  • The participation of families of different cultural backgrounds enriches discussions and positively affects the learning of children.
  • Generate new educational experiences and expectations and improve the learning climate in the family.

5.5. Other possibilities

Following the dinamic of dialogical literary gatherings other type of gatherings can be developed:

  • Pedagogical gatherings: families and teachers meet to read and disscuss on the most relevant works for education (Freire, Vygotsky, etc.)
  • Musical gatherings: participants meet to talk about music and discuss what they have decided to hear during the week or hear different pieces during the gathering (Utopía y Educación web).

5.6. References

- Aubert, A., Flecha, A., García, C., Flecha, R., & Racionero, S. (2008). Aprendizaje dialógico en la sociedad de la información. Barcelona: Hipatia.

- CONFAPEA. (2012). Manual de Tertulia Literaria Dialógica. Web. 4 May 2014. <http://confapea.org/tertulias/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/manual.pdf>

- Flecha, R. (2000). Sharing Words: Theory and Practice of Dialogic Learning. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, INC. USA.

- Utopía y Educación. Web for inclusive education. 4 May 2014.  <http://www.utopiayeducacion.com/2006/06/tertulias-dialgicas.html>