Cuture according to Wenger

It appears that in Wenger’s approach context, meaning, and experience are, not unlike the way they are presented in the other perspectives, interlocking dimensions of the same endeavor. In her work, however, such interdependence and interconnection is made official within the framework of her wholistic and systemic theory. Her perspective transcends epistemological attempts to codify learning along philosophical lines and focuses instead on premises that place learning at the center of human experience, as the direct product of social interaction and as both the source and the outcome of meaning. The arena for such interesting interaction of factors, outcomes and contents is the practice that occurs within the local and global boundaries of communities. She defines such communities of practice as “not self-contained entities that develop in larger contexts – historical, social, cultural, institutional – with specific resources and constraints.” She also goes on at length to painstakingly frame what such practices should entail to qualify as suitable, even though she seems to contradict herself when she says that having too rigid a definition would be detrimental to a community of practice’s effectiveness. I believe that Wenger has brought culture into the discussion about learning, which is relevant to what I perceive as a lack of general consideration for cultural issues in the other perspectives. I understand that she views culture as something that emerges at the interface of the phenomena of reification and participation, and encompasses the different aspects of human experience as it develops from the social interactions within the respective communities. However,Wenger’s idea of culture does not address profound differences that are oftentimes unstated and lie at the core of current globalization processes, including learning, teaching and education. Even though personal experiences are taken into consideration , I have come away with the impression that – from a cross-cultural perspective – the setting of a practice in her description is a fairly culturally homogeneous environment; in fact, even though she acknowledges personal experience as a factor, she fails to address the impact of each participant’s personal cross-cultural experience and cultural background in terms of their diverse cross-cultural make-up. In my opinion, such exclusion of intercultural dynamics, contributions, experience, meanings and personal contexts detracts from a theory that she takes pride in presenting as one of some universal value.

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