Thursday, December 01, 2011

Book on learning through practice

Another book from the professional and practice-based learning (Springer publishers) has arrived in the library. This one on ‘Learning through practice: Models, traditions, orientations and approaches’ edited by Professor Stephen Billett. With short preview on Google books

Much of the book is of relevance, so here is a brief summary of each pertinent chapter.

The first chapter, ‘learning though practice’ sets the scene by providing the rationale for the book, including the growing interest in practice-based learning and the purposes of learning through practice. Then the conceptual premises for learning through practice are set out by way of summarising the next six chapters and then a summary of the following chapters as instances/examples of practice. Overall, a good overview is provided to set the scene and provide the theoretical foundations for the following chapters.

Chapter 2 by Wolff-Michael Roth is on ‘learning in praxis and learning for praxis’. Using fish culture as an example, this chapter discusses the large separation between what is taught and tested at school and the competencies learnt and practiced at work. Of importance is the exploration of learning by implicit (tacit) and explicit modes. There is also a good overview of the praxis and theory from historical and phenomenological perspectives at the beginning of the chapter.

Michael Eraut writes on ‘knowledge, working practices and learning’ in chapter 3. This chapter is a good summary of Eraut’s work on lifelong learning. His premise is that through life, we undergo a series of learning trajectories. These trajectories occur through engagement in work and life. Access to learning depends on type of work etc. and personal, situational and interpersonal influences have an impact on what, how and how much learning occurs.

Stephen Billet’s chapter ‘ the practices of learning through occupations’ provides a historical and conceptual account of learning and discusses the nature and effectiveness of learning for occupations through practice. Of interest are the historical accounts and how, for much of humankind’s history, occupational learning has been largely based in workplace environments, often through apprenticeship type processes. Of note is the need to recognise the complexity, demands and often difficult to learn knowledge that characterises workplace learning. An overview of his concept of affordances and engagement in work also provided.

Chapter 6 is by Gloria Dall’Alba and Jorgen Sandberg on ‘learning through and about practice: a lifeworld perspective’. Argues that approaches to practice-based learning tend to overlook the ontological dimensions that are central to learning. So that learning emphasises skills, knowledge etc, to be learnt but not on how learners are becoming and what the processes of becoming involve. Propose the ‘ways of being’ needs to be used to direct teaching/learning.

David Guile’s chapter ‘developing vocational practice and social capital in the jewellery sector: a model of practice-based learning’ uses a workplace scheme to explore concepts of practice based learning and occupational competency. Cultural-historical activity theory is used to examine the various influences on work placement.

Laurent Fillietaz provides examples from apprenticeship training on aspects of ‘guidance as an interactional accomplishment’. Of note is the use of video and discourse analysis methods to study the learning of apprentices within workplaces. In this chapter, four categories of guidance are proposed. These are spontaneous, requested, distributed and denied. Provides a good framework to explore inter-relational aspects of workplace learning.

Chapter 12 by Helen Worthen and Mark Berchman is on “apprenticeships: what happens in on the job training’ set in an American context. The main discussion in the chapter is the tension between production targets and workplace learning needs.

Several other chapters also need to be studied! But the above are the ones most applicable to current projects.