Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ways of knowing and making knowledge

ways of knowing and making knowledge

Had a day over the long weekend to put into exploring in greater detail, two new books just arrived in the CPIT library. The contents of both books, complement my current reading around 'how trade skills are learnt'. The first book is 'Ways of knowing: new approaches in the anthropology of experience of learning'. published in 2007 and edited by Mark Harris. I had skimmed read this book at the Griffith University library and placed at order at the CPIT library, so good to be able to get back into the interesting chapters. The second book is published 2010 and edited by Trevor Marchand called "Making knowledge: explorations of the indissoluble relation between mind, body and environment'. Both books have common anthropological roots with several chapters written by the same authors.

The above books complement two other books I have been working through. "Knowing work: the social relations of working and knowing", 2009 edited by Markus Weil, Leena Koski and Liv Mjelde and 'Emerging perspectives of workplace learning", 2008 edited by Stephen Billett, Christian Harteis and Anneli Etelapelto. Both have socio-cultural leanings and education backgrounds. In the knowing work book, chapters of interest and relevance include Richard Daly on 'communicating the working knowledge of working life: making visible the invisible' - using the need to decode a totally diagrammic ikea instruction sheet to built a stool, as an example.

In the book 'Emerging perspectives' chapters of relevance include:
Stephen Billett's introduction providing a summary of the purposes of workplace learning.
'Negotiating professional identity' by Katja Vahasantanen and Stephen Billet report on how individuals negotiate identity as vocational teachers in the face of continual top-down directed change.
'Learning through Errors' by Johannes Bauer and Regina Mulder provides an overview of concepts of 'error' and how we can learn from through making mistakes
'Reflection and professional competence' by Martin Gartmeier, Stefanie Kipfmueller, Helmut Heid and Hans Gruber - provides an activity theory and social perspective on processes of learning through reflection
'Developing conceptual knowledge in road transport' by Jason Lewis (avetra paper) is of interest for its exploration of guided learning and its role in helping drivers learn problem solving.

Of the ways of knowing, important chapters are
Trevor Marchand on 'Crafting knowledge: the role of parsing and production' - uses a study of masons in Mali to try to explain how craft people communicate at work with very little verbal interaction.
Greg Downey on 'Seeing with a sideways glance', derived from studies of the Brazilian martial art/dance form capoeira.

Most of the chapters in the 'Making knowledge book' are pertinent.
Trevor Marchand's introductory chapter provides a very good overview, marrying the anthropological findings reported in the book to studies in brain function, cognition, psychology, biology, etc.
His chapter on 'Embodied cognition' extends on the work reported in the 'ways of knowing book' and uses examples from a joinery programme, to again explain how people seem to be able to use bodily movements as a form of conversation, including interjections and agreement.
Of interest are the chapters on embodied learning (Greg Downey), Kazakh women's everyday craft practice (Anna Odland Portisch), Central Slovak lace makers (Nicolette Makovicky), weavers in South India (Soumhya Venkatesan) and medical students learning how to hear heart sounds (Tom Rice).

The challenge over the next couple of years is for to formulate projects that study trades skills learning, bringing together the literature on workplace learning, identity formation, socio-cultural influences with the anthropological literature on human knowledge.