A REPORT ON Fostering learning in practice to address my hot issue

Learner: Oscar Vallazza – Linköping University

Course: Fostering Learning in Practice, Monash University

Instructor: Dr.  Terri Seddon

Tutor: Lorraine White

Group: The Koalas

Assignment 2    Date: July 3, 2009                     Words:  4243

A REPORT ON Fostering learning in practice to address my hot issue

TABLE OF CONTENTS: Each heading has a hyperlink to the relevant section





1.3     HOT ISSUE


1.5     What I now see as the identity issues that relate to MY learning dimension


2.1     How conceptual understandings of adult learning relate to MY hot issue and its learning dimension


2.2.1  Constructivist progressive orientation

2.2.2  Constructivist HUMANIST orientation




2.3.3   enactivist perspective


3.       implications of MY proposed learning strategy to address MY hot issue

3.1     context

3.2     learning environment





This report builds on my previous Assignment 1 and further analyzes my hot issue in the light of the readings and the dialogue that evolved during this course.

While working on my last report and upon reflecting on comments received, it has become clear to me that the part-time nature of my current job only allows me limited change-oriented action within my workplace. It is important for the reader to know this, as this report will reflect such conditions by focusing more on theoretical change than on actual possible actions.

This report unfolds from a non-linear, systems perspective. It will be presented in a less academic format, which will hopefully result in a more personal and reflective narrative.

It is divided into three sections. The first section will summarize my position on my hot issue, the relevant learning dimension, my identity and my workplace context as presented in assignment 1. Furthermore, it will address changes to my initial thinking that have emerged from recent readings, reflections and discussions.

In Section two, I will expand on my analysis and discuss the influence of adult learning traditions on my learning dimension and how they may provide an intervention strategy applicable to my hot issue.

In the third section I will discuss the implications inherent in such strategy with reference to my identity, work context, and learning dimension. I will link the strategy’s prospective outcomes to my analysis of the adult learning perspectives learned in this course.


1.1      MY IDENTITY

My intercultural experience heavily informs my identity, which is multifaceted and does not easily conform to labels available to most people, being that nationality, social or professional roles. My identity emerges from narratives that reflect available discourses in intersecting fields relevant to the intercultural dimension of the human experience.

I consider identity as the ever-changing product of interacting factors. Identity construction is a process whereby people “inventively, judiciously, purposefully” select the components of their narrative, which are in turn the building blocks of identities. (Watson, 2006, pp.510-511) Thus, the building of autobiographies lies at the core of personal identity building. Furthermore, Chappell et al. (2003) suggest a different way of looking at the self, away from a coherent “authentic” self, towards a model based on “multiple subjectivities,” “multiple lifeworlds,” or “multiple layers.” (p. 8) Such flexible view allows me to better cope with intercultural communication issues while negotiating my identity within my workplace.

I lived and worked in several countries, and have a very composite intercultural experience, coupled with a fairly solid background in Intercultural Communication. This places me in a very sensitive position within the college where I work, which is mainly organized around U.S. cultural assumptions and views on education.

As an instructor, I am acting at least at two levels. At the institutional level – in that I am bound by college policies and educational mission; and at the interface of cross-cultural discourses – in that I provide my students with opportunities to recognize patterns and assumptions that relate directly to their identities and world views. These discourses cover several areas of both personal and academic relevance.

I see my role as a mediator between these levels. On my part, this requires a clear understanding of my identity and of how it relates to my current workplace and to other people acting within it.


I work at a corporation-owned art college in Seattle, USA. My workplace provides for a contested context where I engage in identity negotiations. My workplace identity is informed by corporate policies that are enforced throughout the college network. Professional development opportunities are directly linked to such policies, with little room for negotiation.

My background in and exposure to a broad spectrum of intercultural communication literature and experiences make me particularly sensitive to many relevant issues. Unfortunately, the college does not recognize the need for intercultural communication competence, the general approach being that things will sort themselves out one way or another, as teachers are assumed to be well-versed in dealing with all sorts of academic, pedagogical and cultural issues.


My hot issue was presented in my previous report. Please refer to it for a detailed description. The case stemmed from a critical incident occurred while I was teaching a foreign language course, during which I become both actor in and witness to dynamics that revealed the lack of intercultural communication awareness and competencies in my current workplace.

My hot issue emphasized the need for both institutional and personal changes in areas relevant to intercultural communication competence. I believe that, unless such capabilities are anchored in the curriculum, chances for intercultural relativism and misunderstandings will continue to persist.


My previous report presented the intercultural communication aspect of my case. As an example, I suggested that my student may have been dealing with issues of asserting and negotiating her cultural identity in an alien environment, in a fashion very similar to the one described by De Vault. (1999) As a long-time learner of Intercultural Communication, I immediately recognized that the situation was presenting itself as difficult, ripe with the potential for intercultural misunderstanding, compounded by the danger of power issues that are present in an American higher education context.

My student’s reaction and personal narrative appeared to interface with current discourses of intercultural communication. Gee (1999) calls them “Discourses with a capital D, that is, different ways in which we humans integrate language with non language ‘stuff,’ such as different ways of thinking, acting, interacting, valuing, feeling, [and] believing.”  This in turn locks onto my cross-cultural experience and studies of Intercultural Communication, a vast area that is both very personal, i.e. experiential, and academic, i.e. rooted in formal studies. The complex entanglement of these discourses introduces a highly contested aspect into my hot issue.

My critical incident was characterized by several intercultural communication factors related to cultural differences, including values and beliefs; personal backgrounds, including learning and professional experiences; language differences, even though me were all using English as a way to communicate; Non-Verbal Communication patterns; power issues, and how the actors view them from their differing cultural view points; and academic and institutional issues.

The learning dimension in my hot case affects at least two aspects — firstly, the personal level, i.e. the level of my intercultural competence and effectiveness; secondly, the institutional level, where my identity interfaces with the context of my current practice, striving to meet the specific challenges embedded in my workplace, and at the same time trying to be mindful of the other actors’ cross-cultural narratives.

1.5      What I now see as the identity issues that relate to MY learning dimension

Similarly to what happens with the two aspects of the learning dimension as described in the previous paragraph, the negotiation of my identity within my professional practice is twofold: On the one hand, I engage in the building of my autobiography, through the construction of a narrative made up of carefully selected episodes. Such narrative intersects existing discourses of education and actualization and will interact with other actors’ narratives. On the other hand, I also engage in the contextual reality of my professional practice, which may result in having to “adjust” my identity to a contested workplace environment.

At both levels, identity has a relational nature that does not abstract from power issues. This creates a situation of ongoing negotiations and adjustments that do not always acknowledge the complexities inherent in cross-cultural interactions.

As mentioned earlier, my hot case clearly showed that in my professional context there is a prevalent lack of consideration for issues related to the intercultural learning dimension. This prompted me to advocate for the introduction of Intercultural Communication practices into the college educational and work environment.

This thesis stemmed from the cross-cultural component of my personal and academic experiences, which inform my current identity and role in my professional practice. Subsequent readings and discussions have helped me refine my initial suggestion, as more and more institutional hidden “values” were uncovered. In particular, dialogue within the cohort proved invaluable to stigmatize the limits, including power issues, imposed by educational entities on teachers. That also applies to my workplace.

To validate the intercultural learning dimension for students and teachers, the educational context will need to become more mindful of all actors’ diverse narratives and relevant discourses.

While teachers will continue to negotiate their identities within the affordances of a highly contested work environment, we will need to reconsider current education orientations – as presented in the next section – from a larger, global perspective that will include the intercultural learning dimension.


2.1      How conceptual understandings of adult learning relate to MY hot issue and its learning dimension

I see myself as a “cultural bridge”. Being situated across disciplines and paradigms is not unusual for me, as I believe in a systemic approach that emphasizes relationships over the separate characteristics of actors and context. This may partly explain why I also find myself at the intersection of several education perspectives.

Several of the experiential learning orientations covered in this course are relevant to the intercultural learning dimension. The most appropriate approach cannot really be established a priory. There are too many factors involved, such as age, cultural differences, educational goals, learning contexts, expectations, desire to learn, level of commitment and participation. In the following paragraphs I will present some of the perspectives that I believe can better address the issues raised in my hot case.

In this analysis I will exclude Lave and Wenger’s participation perspective. According to Greeno, (1997) they believe that the educator’s role is “not to develop individuals, but to help them participate meaningfully in the practices they choose to enter.” (Fenwick, 2001, p.36) From my own readings on Wenger, even considering the merits and the systems view of her perspective, I believe that it lacks the necessary recognition of intercultural factors that is central to the argument presented in this report.

For my systemic analysis I have selected two levels that will be helpful to outline my position on appropriate orientations.

2.2 Micro level

At this level I engage in the following practices:

  • Managing the learning context
  • Promoting dialogue
  • Providing a conducive and respectful learning environment.

As explained next, I believe that Constructivism adequately addresses these issues.

Much could be said about the variations found within constructivist orientations. This would, however, stray from the focus of this report, i.e. the relevance of available orientations to the intercultural learning dimension.

As summarized by Fenwick (2001, p.8), constructivist views are characterized by shared assumptions that include the following:

  • Presence of an educator
  • Learning happens through cognitive reflection
  • Learner is viewed as separate from experience
  • Experience can be considered like a bounded object.

Within Constructivism, I believe that the following approaches may be valuable to address the intercultural learning dimension at the micro level.

2.2.1 Constructivist progressive orientation

From my understanding, according to Dewey, in this perspective the “educator helps link disparate experiences into a coherent whole.” (Fenwick, p.3) Students are made aware of the level of responsibility required for their educational path. They engage in problem-solving activities to become successful in their chosen fields. The teacher acts as a guide and promoter of critical change geared at reforming and redressing system imbalances through a process of understanding civil responsibility and issues of active citizenship.

By promoting students’ and faculty’s engagement in the discussion of socially-relevant issues, this perspective would allow for an initial understanding of intercultural communication processes. However, such debate could suffer from the current framing of discourses of Intercultural Communication based mainly on reductionist views of cultures. Nevertheless, I believe this orientation would offer a way to approach internalized assumptions in a non-threatening fashion.

2.2.1 Constructivist humanist orientation

The General Education Department at my workplace emphasizes humanistic aspects by stressing student-centered theories and the development of students’ personal success though the reinforcement of self-awareness and self-actualization strategies. Teachers’ professional development across departments also refers to humanistic guidelines. Accordingly, the teacher acts as a mentor that guides people towards understanding of, and eventually conforming to the current world view.

Adopting this perspective to address the intercultural dimension would allow for a form of dialogue that finds already acceptance at the college institutional level. As in the case of the progressive orientation, however, this approach could suffer from existing reductionist assumptions on intercultural processes.

Summarizing, the two aforementioned perspectives may have such strengths as being learner-oriented, mindful of others’ differences, and geared towards self-realization and growth. They also emphasize an openness to dialogue in a learning environment based on trust, authenticity, integrity, mutual respect, and patience (Fenwick 2001, p. 15), built on scaffholding pedagogy and supportive of experiential learning.

However, I also see weaknesses, as these approaches are likely to be enmeshed in established institutional structures. They may focus on adaptation rather than transformation, and the learning experience may be piloted by educators.

2.3      macro (global) level

At this level I engage in the following practices:

  • Promoting the discussion of complex and “delicate” intercultural issues
  • Promoting awareness and recognition of issues of governmentability, self-subjugation and confessional education [1]
  • Promoting awareness, recognition and critique of socially-relevant dimensions, including cultural assumptions.

Next I will present three perspectives that I find suitable for this level.

2.3.1 Constructivist radical orientation

In this approach, the teacher acts as a promoter of conscience and an external force that can empower students and facilitate social transformation. According to Merizow (1991), the radical orientation is also suited to address issues of governmentability (Foucault, 1991), self-subjugation (Chappell et al, 2003), and confessional education (Usher and Edwards, 1995).

With regard to the intercultural dimension, I would argue that a radical approach would be very suitable to examine, discuss, and challenge cultural discourses, assumptions, issues of cultural representations and otherization, and personal narratives. A radical orientation could be more effective at uncovering and possibly overcoming issues of oppression, cultural relativism and essentialism, and ultimately at addressing the imbalances that are still part of our social and educational models.

However, this approach may entail possibilities for culture clashes and it may be of difficult application within the dominant world view, given the level of psychological and cultural embeddedness of current educational paradigms and relevant social frameworks and discourses.

2.3.2 Constructivist transformational orientation

In this approach, the teacher acts as a promoter of transformation processes. According to Merizow (1991), this approach leads “to a dramatic shift or transformation in the learner’s way of viewing the world.” by “bringing of one’s assumptions, premises, criteria, and schemata into consciousness and vigorously critiquing them.” (Fenwick, 2001, p. 13)

This orientation is suitable to challenge and discuss cultural assumptions through cognitive reflection. However, one has to recognize that not everyone is interested in shifting perspective, or capable of reflecting cognitively, in which cases this approach may feel to some like a piloted operation.

From a practical point of view, I believe intercultural dialogic communication as envisioned by intercultural thinkers such as David Bohm, Martin Buber, Fred Casmir, Muneo Yoshikawa and many others belongs within this perspective. It aims at the development of a high level of dialogue competence that can benefit intercultural understanding. (Matoba, 2002, p. 143)

2.3.3  Enactivist perspective

This perspective promotes a new paradigm of learning derived from whole systems thinking. It transcends the confinements of the established world view and its embedded traditional education practices. The educator is viewed as a communicator, story-maker, and interpreter.[2] (Fenwick, 2001, p. 49)

This entails an investigative, open-ended approach to learning that is not separate from teaching. The language used in this perspective is conducive to understanding relations between systems, including the interplay between actors and issues in the education universe. This presides over the co-emergence of an interrelated pattern, in which “each participant’s understandings are entwined with those of other participants, and individual knowledge co-emerges with collective knowledge.” (Fenwick, 2001, p. 49)

Since this approach is linked to the broader, global perspective of whole systems thinking, it allows me to relate my professional practice to the emergence of a new thinking paradigm, which I consider central to my role as an educator. Traditional approaches to intercultural understanding have attempted to stereotype cultural traits and perpetuate the Eurocentric, essentialist view of culture based on such assumptions as that a culture has a physical entity and is located in a specific country; that the world is divided into mutually exclusive cultural enclaves; that people belong exclusively to one national culture and are constrained by it; and finally that intercultural communication is built on acquired knowledge of the details and stereotypes of a foreigner’s perceived culture. (Holliday et al, 2004, pp. 4-5) The enactivist perspective allows for ways to transcend such confinements.

Enactivist educators “can provide feedback loops to a system as it experiments with different patterns leading out from disequilibrium.” (Fenwick, 2001, p.50) This resonates with views of a paradigmal change such as those presented by Dr. Ervin Laszlo, founder of The Club of Budapest, in his work on macroshifts. (Laszlo, 2001)

This perspective, however, may be of difficult application under today’s established educational circumstances, as it requires reframing current paradigms, discourses, and world views.

In the next section, the two levels presented above will be further examined with respect to their relevance to an action-oriented strategy that addresses the intercultural learning dimension of my hot case.


3.         implications of MY proposed learning strategy to address MY hot issue

As pointed out in the introduction, my current terms of employment do not allow me to have a very active role at my workplace. Nevertheless, I will try to relate the preceding argument to a strategy of change that would hopefully honor the intercultural issues raised by my hot case.

As suggested in 1.1, I relate to the intercultural learning dimension at least at two levels. First, within the context of my professional practice and with regard to my identity, I am acting at the institutional level, with its restrictive policies and mission; second, at the interface of cross-cultural relevant discourses.

As outlined in Section 2, to be effective as an educator and a participant in my professional practice, I have identified two levels at which I will be able to intervene— a micro and macro level.

The challenge in this last section will be to reconcile the multiple dimensional nature of such scenario with the legitimate need for appropriate intervention. To this end, I will now present three areas that I consider important for meaningful change: context, learning environment, roles and approach.

3.1      CONTEXT

The following definition may help understand how learning is influenced by our environment.

“Context involves the social relations and political-cultural dimensions of the community in which the individual is caught up, the nature of the task, the web of joint actions in which the individual’s choices and behaviors are enmeshed, the vocabulary and cultural beliefs through which the individual makes meaning of the whole situation, and the historical, temporal, and spatial location of the situation.” (Fenwick, 2002, p. 20)

Context defines the background against which identities play out, but it can also become indistinguishable from the actors. In a process of ongoing negotiation and reframing, context is simply a reality that is constantly transforming itself. Changes may occur unpredictably, as argued in the enactivist perspective, or in a monitored and guided way, as argued in constructivist orientations. I can only speculate on such dynamics, as I do not really know what happens once they are set in motion.

Suggested actions:

Despite such dilemma, I believe that, as a starting point to redress the imbalances revealed in my hot case, contextual intercultural components need to be acknowledged.

In a globalized world, cultural differences belong to our everyday experience. In order to alter our assumptions and initiate a dialogical process of identity negotiation and cultural recognition, such differences must find inclusion in any education context.


I believe that education allows people to create a path to personal development and growth. It should also provide for broader, less academic discussion opportunities on issues that are important to many.

I subscribe to Knowles’ suggestion (1984) that the learning environment should be based on trust, authenticity, integrity, mutual respect, and patience, as seen in the sub section on Constructivist humanist orientation. (Fenwick, 2001, p. 15

For that to happen, we need a conducive and respectful learning environment free of drama and wounding learning experiences that may affect the learner’s relationship to learning. Wojecki (2007) suggests that “these negative and emotive experiences continue to shape how the individual knows what learning is, therefore framing how she or he engages with formal learning in the future.” (p.171)

Suggested actions:

The learning environment and relevant intercultural dimension could be well served by increasing emphasis on noticing, mindfulness[3], and reflection activities. (Mason, 2001)

By nurturing the discipline of noticing, i.e. the mindful ability to be present and attend to others’ needs, I can increase my professional and intercultural effectiveness, similarly to what already happens in my private interactions, which are generally informed by this approach.


As seen in section 2, my role depends on the level on which I act. At the micro level, I believe that I should remain committed to the learners’ progress, self-development and growth, in line with constructivist perspectives. At the macro level, I would be more effective as a communicator, a story maker, and an interpreter, as suggested by the enactivist perspective. This would help learners to make community sense of patterns emerging from complex systems. (Fenwick, 2002, p. 49) Ultimately, this is how I believe transformation can be enacted. Understanding the intertwined dynamics of intercultural communication and cultural diversity is in my opinion more important that the analysis of cultures as detached, unchanging units of human experience.

Suggested actions:

To address the two levels examined in section 2, the focus of my role will shift

Injecting the intercultural learning dimension into my workplace will undoubtedly require institutional commitment. Firstly, with regards to the students, towards the recognition of the cultural differences embedded in their biographies. That could be done by adopting a mindful approach along the lines suggested in constructivist orientations. Secondly, with regards to staff/faculty, towards the implementation of appropriate professional development opportunities, aimed at creating and promoting an understanding and awareness of the intercultural communication dimension beyond the make-shift approach currently in place. In such changing context I will need to renegotiate my role within the college by promoting my level of “intercultural expertise.” This will require my role to shift towards a more pro-active and solution-oriented approach, but also its explicit recognition within the workplace.

The transformational level of my teaching practice represents an additional challenge that goes straight to the core of my personal views on Intercultural Communication. (see 2.3.2 , 2.3.3) Currently, the institutional context of my workplace does not seem to allow for a transformative approach to the intercultural learning dimension.


This report has presented the relevance of the intercultural learning dimension in an academic learning setting, within which my identity, roles, and effectiveness may be negotiated.

My hot case clearly shows that in my professional context there is a prevalent lack of consideration for issues related to the intercultural learning dimension. Such realization has prompted me to advocate for the introduction of Intercultural Communication educational practices into the college environment.

Cross-cultural contexts are brimming with identity negotiation processes. Stella Ting-Toomey (1993) defines them as “the smooth coordination between interactants […] that requires an individual to draw on a wide range of cognitive, affective, and behavioral resources to deal with novel, identity-improvisation situations.” I believe that cultural identity negotiation processes and an attentive, mindful reading of students’ narratives may be valuable tools for exploring the unspoken intercultural dimension in my current workplace, although a time-intensive, narrative-oriented investigation is not always feasible.

In an increasingly globalized world, it is vital for education environments to stress intercultural communication competencies[4] that will give all actors a way to understand and appreciate a variety of cultural discourses. Not everyone will become an intercultural specialist, but I hope that many may become at least mindful of dynamics of cross-cultural interaction.

Keeping in mind my limited influence on my professional practice, in this report I have suggested a micro and macro level of intervention to address the intercultural learning dimension. They are based on available educational orientations and offer valuable ideas that may help me become more effective within my current practice.

Specifically, by acting on a humanist and progressive constructivist platform, I will be able to graft my strategy on the existing learning context. Later, it might also be possible for me to intervene at the macro (global) level by pursuing a more radical, transformational, and enactivist approach that would challenge current entrenched views of intercultural dynamics.

At present, given the education orientations enforced at my current workplace, I can only see room for action at the micro level. Intervention at the macro level may sound for now like philosophical meanderings.  In fact, it remains to be seen whether changes at the lower level will open the way to a transformation in attitudes that will also acknowledge issues of false consciousness, confessional education, and governmentability. If that happened, we would bear witness to a kind of transformation in education that would extend beyond current essentialist discourses on culture, and embrace the challenges of a paradigmatic macroshift.


Chappelll, C., Rhodes, C., Solomon, N., Tennant, M. and Yates, L. (2003) “Selfwork”
in Reconstructing the Lifelong Learner: Pedagogy and identity in individual, organisational and social change (2003) by C. Chappelll, C. Rhodes, N. Solomon, M. Tennant & L. Yates Routledge Falmer, London

Collier, 1989, “International Journal of Intercultural Relations”, 13, 287-302 in Wijseman, R.L. and Koester, J. “Intercultural Communication Competence”, 1993

De Vault, M.L., (1999) ‘Ethnicity and Expertise’ in Liberating Method. Feminism and Social Research. Temple University Press, Philadelphia, pp.84-104

Fenwick, T. (2001) “Experiential Learning: A Theoretical Critique from Five Perspectives” Information Series No 385, ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career and Vocational Education now located at the Centre for Education & Training for Employment at Ohio State University, accessed on June 2, 2009 at http://www.uni-koeln.de/hf/konstrukt/didaktik/situierteslernen/fenwick1.pdf

Foucault, M. “Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings,” 1972-1977, edited by C. Gordon. New York: Pantheon, 1980.

Foucault, M. “Governmentality.” In The Foucault Effect, edited by G. Burchell, C. Gordon, and P. Mills, pp. 87-104. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991

Gee, J.P. (1999) An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method London: Routledge, London pp.12-13

Greeno, J. (1997) “On Claims that Answer the Wrong Questions.” In Educational Researcher 26, no. 1 (January-February 1997): 5-17. (ERIC No. EJ 543 850)

Holliday, A., Kullman, J., & Hyde, M. (2004). Intercultural communication: An advanced resource book. Routledge applied linguistics. London: Routledge

Knowles, M. (1984) The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Company

Langer, E. J., & Moldoveanu, M. (2000). The Construct of Mindfulness. Journal of Social Issues. 56 (1), 1-9 accessed on May 12, 2009 http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m0341/1_56/63716498/p1/article.jhtml

Laszlo, E. (2001). Macroshift: Navigating the transformation to a sustainable world. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler

Mason, J., (2001) “Forces for Development” in Researching your own practice: The discipline of noticing, Routledge Falmer, London

Matoba, K. (2002) “Dialogue Process as Communication Training for Multicultural Organizations” in Bohnet-Joschko, S. (2002). Socially responsible management: Impulses for good governance in a changing world. Wittener Jahrbuch fuer ökonomische Literatur, Bd. 7. Marburg: Metropolis-Verl.

Mezirow, J. (1991) Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Ting-Toomey, S. “Communicative Resourcefulness – An Identity Negotiation Perspective” in Wijseman, R.L. and Koester, J. Intercultural Communication Competence, 1993

Usher, R., and Edwards, R. “Confessing All? A ‘Postmodern’ Guide to the Guidance and Counselling of Adult Learners.” Studies in the Education of Adults 27, no. 1 (April 1995): 9-23. (ERIC No. EJ 504 441)

Wenger, E. (1999). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge University Press.
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: learning as a social system. In: The Systems Thinker, No. 5, 1998, Accessed on Oct. 20, 2008

Wenger, E. (1991). Communities of Practice: Where Learning Happens. Benchmark Magazine, Fall, 1991

Watson, C., (2006) ‘Narratives of practice and the construction of identity in teaching’, Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol 12(5), October, pp.509-526

Wojecki, A. (2007). What’s identity got to do with it, anyway? Constructing adult learner identities in the workplace. In Studies in the Education of Adults. 39 (1), 168-182.


On Narrative


On Identity Theories


On Macroshift



[1] In order to understand my argument, it is important to clarify these terms.

Governmentability: defined by Foucault (1991) as “A form of power that is exercised through an ensemble of institutions, procedures, analyses, and reflections, which results in the formation of a specific governmental apparatus.” (Fenwick, p. 42)

Self-subjugation: Chappell et al (2003) recognize that in many traditions the existing social frameworks remain unchallenged, as individual identities remain anchored in established socio-cultural assumptions. This in turn perpetuates issues of subjugation and domination resting on “false consciousness.” It is important to recognize this, as often established discourses override one’s awareness of mechanism of power and discrimination. (p.6)

Confessional education: defined by Usher and Edwards (1995) as “practices such as journaling, life planning, self-evaluation, portfolios, and counseling that are commonly associated with experiential learning.” They believe that people become “objects of scrutiny” as they follow their educators’ advice on issues of identity definition. (Fenwick, 2001, pp. 41-42)

[2] “The educator’s role might be first, a communicator: assisting participants in naming what is unfolding around them and inside them, continually renaming these changing nuances, and unlocking the tenacious grasp of old categories, restrictive or destructive language that strangles emerging possibilities. Second, the educator as story-maker helps trace and meaningfully record the interactions of the actors and objects in the expanding spaces. Third, the educator as interpreter helps all to make community sense of the patterns emerging among these complex systems and understand their own involvements in these patterns of systems.” (Fenwick, 2001, p. 49)

[3] Langer and Moldoveanu define mindfulness as “the process of drawing novel distinctions [that] can lead to a number of diverse consequences, including (1) a greater sensitivity to one’s environment, (2) more openness to new information, (3) the creation of new categories for structuring perception, and (4) enhanced awareness of multiple perspectives in problem solving.” (Langer at al, 2000)

[4] Intercultural Communication competence may be defined “as the mutual avowing confirmation of the interactants’ cultural identities where both interactants engage in behavior perceived to be appropriate and effective in advancing both cultural identities.” (Collier, 1989)


One Response


    Oscar, you’ve done a ‘cracker’ of a paper, here. Congratulations!

    The paper comprehensively addresses the requirements of the assignment and is really well structured. Your case is succinctly stated and the argument is well focused. You have put together a convincing argument in a logical form that flows fluently. I really like the way that you have progressed from micro to macro levels in section 2. You have used relevant references way beyond the required readings for the unit.
    You have a clear understanding of the theoretical concepts. Your analysis and reflection on these as they apply to your case and learning dimension is really good. What you have also done well is identified issues and problems in implementing proposed actions for addressing your ‘hot issue’.

    Ways of improving this assignment

    My only suggestion is that you have considered strategies for addressing your ‘hot issue’ at the macro level more, and it would be really useful to consider pushing your thoughts about that micro level in a little more depth, especially since you structured section 2 around these levels. This is not a huge criticism though, Oscar.

    General comments

    I know that you point out the difficulties of doing a great deal in your workplace to address the issues that concern you, particularly as a part-time teacher but there may be other ways for you to consider taking positive action to improve intercultural communications that can be developed over time on a very practical level. For instance by discussing concerns with peers, managers and those who have roles in the institute. You probably already do this, but it does get you to the right people and networks where you can make further inroads. Anyway, you have put in a magnificent effort in this unit, Oscar and I wish you all the best.

    Grade descriptor: EXCELLENT

    Well done

    Lorraine White-Hancock

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