Strategies for Reshaping Practice: The habits of the classroom #23

Provide contrasts and set up dissonance (clashes)

Teachers can provoke thinking by creating contrasts and dissonance. Dissonance is about creating difference or conflict; for example, it might be teaching about caring for the environment in a littered room, or using body language that does not match what you are saying, or playing commercial Christmas music over paintings of the nativity. Including contrasts and dissonance in our teaching can raise awareness of certain issues, and challenge learners to rethink, for example considering the spiritual and relational riches of some past cultures in contrast to modern cultures.

  • Teachers can use a painting such as Frederic Watts ‘Hope’ where the title does not seem to match the painting. This can help students rethink hope and move away from classifying it as cheery optimism.
  • Teachers can contrast how some sports people behave with the way we would like to be treated in sport. They can compare computers to humans and ask about the difference.
These examples show how dissonance and contrasts can raise awareness and challenge people to rethink.
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