Monday, January 13, 2014

Video from UCTV - Jean Lave on situated learning

Last week was a quiet re-start to work for 2014. I fitted in catch up reading and video watching between tidying up a rejected journal article and starting 3 other articles. One video on my list was of Professor Jean Lave providing background on 'everyday life and learning. The video is one of a series from University of California TV and archived on youtube. There are several videos from UCTV to catch up on and I will summarise the relevant ones to vocational education as I work through them. 

First up, social anthropologist Jean Lave argues that all theoretical problematics across the social sciences include assumptions about learning, whether explicitly or not. She says that learning is integral to conceptions of knowledge, inquiry, revolution, and changing practice, to name a few. Accordingly, social scientists have substantive stakes in the issue -- historical, cultural, spatial, political, and social.
Began with saying each book she has written, seems to explain things in previous books. Connects this to her study of Via and Goa tailors where apprentices work with the whole garment before eventually learning how to draft and cut cloth to make the clothing.

We are always learning as we go through life. Learning is complex and multi-dimensional. We are apprentices to our own changing practice.

Apprenticeship still associated with low tech, developmental world practice, operating in informal economies. Apprenticeship contributes to craft work learning mainly associated with manual skills and labour.
However, ethnographic studies of craft practice has provided many conceptions on how we learn.  Providing rich resources for understanding the processes (developmental, social) provides for learning.
Instead of studying technology, development and cognitive, but study the relationships between craftsmanship, song and imagination. Making is thinking. What is the process of making concrete things reveal about how we understand ourselves.

Knowledge cannot be separated from how knowledge is used and produced. Kavale 1997 categorises bureaucratic or pragmatic relations of theory and practice in research training, research activity, theory of knowledge. Bureaucratic involves schools, methodology, facts and rules and technical rational. The pragmatic is about apprenticeship, craft and art, situated knowing and social practice.
Provides explanation of how her research approaches started to lean towards understanding everyday knowing in context as opposed to decontextualized general knowledge. Uses the learning summarised in the book ‘apprenticeship in critical ethnographic practice’ to explain of how she shifted to studying learning where it was situated.

She tells the story of how two sessions of field work was required for her to change her preconception of learning as having to be formal. Eventually, she started to realise how apprenticeship’s embodied curriculum revolved around learning by doing. Not through formal show and tell but apprentices observing and participating in authentic work tasks. Apprentices were not just learning how to sew buttons or cut cloth, but turning themselves into master tailors.

A similar thing happened when she tried to test tailor shop maths with formalised math based methods. She realised she had never observed tailors actually using maths in a school based algorithmic approach.
Learning is therefore changing relationships between people in an ever changing world. The task is not to investigate individuals, but the context and participatory practices as they are enacted. Our artisan selves, are involved in continued search for ways to solve everyday practices and beyond.

At the end, she made a pitch for ‘slow science’, to adopt the dispositions of artisan, apprenticeship and craftsmanship to do research, to resist the commodisation / commercialisation and politicising of research. 

In all, a good overview and revision for the principles presented and discussed in her book ' critical ethnographical practice''

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