Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Social theorists in education: Notes from module 2

This new  module is slightly less of a mental workout initially. Only initially. The weekend sessions were taken up with discussing a few social theorists who are linked to education. We looked (briefly) at Dewey, Wenger and Eraut.

Numbers relate to the slide numbers on the presentation.


11. Dewey stresses the importance of progressive education, and that "the most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning" - it is our duty to educate to promote the importance of learning.

12. Dewey is concerned with the outcomes of education - the learner voluntarily subjecting themselves to the learning process as an enduring feature of their life.

13. Education resembles democracy - education does not occur within a vacuum - the education system must be democratic for democratic citizens to be produced. Authoritarian education cannot produce democratic citizens - "freedom, decency, kindness" - these word of Dewey are from 1938, when they had a much stronger meaning than they would appear to now.

14. The argument for freedom - why do we want to live in a democracy? What features make democracy good? Why shouldn't we use these features within education? Working in a democratic way gives a better experience. what's the alternative?

15. Dewey insists that teachers shouldn't enforce control (even of they fear chaos).

16. Teachers should not impose authority. The children should believe that the rules are there for the good of them. Problems occur if they believe that the rules are there for the benefit of authority; then, they challenge that authority. Learning is imposed by the teacher when there isn't establishment of shared responsibilities. When you say you need to know this because of exams etc., learning becomes an imposition  upon the students - give the children responsibility for what they want to learn, then there is a shared responsibility.

17. Why do we educate? Education is dynamic - why we learn is always changing. The pupil is a participant in the formation of the reasons why they are learning. This links to Friere.

Participation is not just doing an activity but determining what is taught and why it is taught.

18. Quality of the education experience: progressive education is hard work for the teacher - they need to find out what the pupils want to learn, then resource it and manage individual differences. Therefore it is impossible to realistically achieve.

19. Boxed knowledge: there is no way that traditional teaching is a shared experience. Knowledge is given to pupils in order to pass a test, etc. Have a look at Hannah Arendt's view of this as 'human culture'.

20. Habit - Bourdieu's habitus largely comes from Dewey's 'habit'. A diet of authoritarian education and boxed knowledge cannot lead to democratic individuals.

21. Experience, for Dewey, is constituted by interaction and continuity. Lived experience provides a richer, deeper understanding. Continuity relates to the experience beyond school being brought into the classroom (i.e. the habitus of Bourdieu).

Wenger and Communities of Practice

This theory was introduced in relation to learning outside of formal institutions. It is a social form of learning, - a community which coalesces around a practice. Its original setting was situated learning (Lave and Wenger).

It is important to remember that the theory developed outside of formal education, so if used within formal education as a theory, this needs to be explored and considered - there may be a transference issue.

22. Lave and Wenger - Situated Learning: There is a drawing in to practice, from the periphery - like on an apprenticeship - all informal social learning. Situated learning solely looks at the learning taking place in the situation - how they pick up the knowledge. Knowledge is CO-CONSTRUCTED, developing through practice between people within a particular social and physical environment. even getting the 'in jokes' is a co-construction of knowledge within that particular community.

24. Shared domain iNTEREST indicates a DESIRE to learn - only a desire to learn can lead to these informal learning practices, otherwise there is no interest in learning about it.

25. COMMUNITY: can be very loosely defined and fragmented.

26. PRACTICE: the doing. Learning continues in informal ways, always rooted in practice.

27. The community has to exist previously so that new members recognise the traditions/history and knowledge is passed on over time. Participants must believe that they're part of the tradition and know and be able to narrate their place within that tradition It is ontological - your 'being' as part of that CoP, and a belief that you will acquire that knowledge.

28. Trajectory through the CoP: entering, belonging and outbound. The identity develops in relation to the community, developing a sense of belonging, engagement and alignment.

29. There is the development of stories/narratives/fables about the community an its practices. Participation vs reification: the binary. Participation: what you do, e.g. a plumber; reification: the symbolic aspects - documentation, adverts, formal/informal rules, regulations: there is a disjunction between the two. The binary is often paradoxical, with contradictions e.g. in teacher education, there are the teaching standards and then there is actual practice.

What am I going to do with this?
Well, I have to write an 8,000 word discussion of a particular theory relating to social theory of education. I was quite excited to read about Wenger's communities of practice and could relate that to an experience from my previous job. Dewey's work is more limited in its interest to me. I can understand the argument, and find it of interest, but it's so far removed from 'reality' for me that I don't feel moved to think about how it could relate to my work.

The other theorist we looked at, Eraut, initially piqued my interest with his discussion of different types of knowledge, and that practical knowledge is looked down upon by those who pursue epistemic knowledge. However, the theory we explored is, again, of not so much interest. I find myself leaning towards developing my understanding of Bourdieu, which I started in the first module. I need to go away and think about how I can explore Bourdieu's theories of habitus, field and cultural capital in relation to the development of academic skills.

No comments:

Post a Comment