UR – Research proposal (1)

COURSE: Understanding Research—UR

FORUM: Explore your research interests

TOPICS: Research, proposal,

Step 3 – Part 1

Keywords: research, methods, enactivism, ontology, epistemology, methodology, intercultural communication, sampling,

Link to process document

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Thank you to all those who have helped me reach more clarity on this assignment and the research tasks that lie ahead! (-:

The following is a condensed version of my reflections on the several stages of my research proposal. I welcome your feedback and comments.


The research will explore issues of globalizations related to the personal learning experience of long-time international sojourners. This qualitative study will examine the dynamics of personal transformation affecting international sojourners and the relevant development of global-mindedness as processes of learning ensuing from intercultural contacts, reflection, acculturation, increased cultural and intercultural awareness, development of intercultural communication competence, and personal growth.  To contain the scope of my research, I could (still undecided) consider the theoretical framework and taxonomy in Milton Bennett’s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity (see below) against which to analyze my findings.

Possible Themes: global learning, identity building, intercultural competency, identity negotiation, avowed and ascribed identity, intercultural learning, cross-cultural/multicultural identity, intercultural communication, tolerance for ambiguity, adaptedness, experiential learning, long-life learning, reflective learning,

These themes seem to suggest a link between one’s intercultural experience and learning. Intercultural competence emerges as the outcome of such interplay. One’s continuous contact with a different culture sets in motion certain learning mechanisms that preside over his or her ability to develop intercultural competence.

How does this study relate to my participation in the ALGC?

This tentative proposal relates to the relevance of learning in the experience of people who live and work outside of their original culture. The themes also relate to one of the core aspects of the ALGC, i.e. Global Learning, which has been broadly defined in a previous course as “that aspect of learning that includes an understanding of human interactions and knowledge across cultural boundaries in light of the cultural differences affecting the participants’ diversity of communication styles, values and beliefs. Global Learning occurs within a collaborative and transformational context of world-wide networks. Global Learning may eventually promote a paradigm shift that would ultimately redefine people’s identities on a personal and potentially global scale.”


This study is directed to all those who are interested in learning more about the experience of international sojourners and the development of intercultural competence as a process of learning, identity negotiation and ultimately personal transformation. It may be of interests to scholars, interculturalists, cross-cultural trainers, people working internationally, educators, and to the many people who are living the life of international sojourners at the start of the third millennium.

This study will contribute to increasing acceptance and understanding of a new way of contracting one’s own cultural identity beyond the limitations and allegiances imposed by monoculturalism. Recognizing and promoting transnational attitudes will hopefully play a significant part in defusing current nationalistic/ethnic strives.


Having grown up in a bi-lingual area close to an international border has certainly contributed to my interest in the learning opportunities presented by cross-cultural experiences. After living abroad for many years and through my experience in the ALGC I have realized the importance of learning for our human experience. This realization prompts me to start this research on the link between intercultural learning, personal transformation, and the shaping of identity in a globalized society.


As I believe that culture plays a fundamental role in our learning processes, I am approaching this research from a contextual constructivist approach as suggested by Cobern (1993). In his view, “construction takes place in a context – a cultural context created by, for example, social and economic class, religion, geographical location, ethnicity, and language.” (Cobern, p.1)

In the course of the research, an enactivist perspective will allow for additional meanings to emerge from the narratives.

This research will be both descriptive and explanatory. The research will follow a phenomenological approach within a qualitative research strategy. Accordingly, the focus of the research will be on people’s subjective experiences and interpretations of the world. It will therefore develop from a hermeneutic perspective.

AREAS OF INQUIRY (more can be added)


  • Degree of adaptation experienced by the participants (adaptation is used here broadly to cover different levels of intercultural engagement)
  • Shaping of identities
  • Learning about the new cultures (ABC, i.e. Affective, Behavioral, Cognitive)


  • Importance of fluency in the local language


I will use snowball/purposive sampling to select a small group of people (max 15) who have an experience relevant to this research.

The main selection criteria will include the following:

  • Participants will be individuals that have lived in more than one culture different from their original ones for a certain number of years.
  • Participants will be independent movers who left their original country following a personal call.
  • Participants will be based in different countries across the globe.
  • Participants will be somewhat fluent in the language of their relevant host country.


This research will be a world-wide scale descriptive case study emerging from in-depth interviews of a selected population.

Data collection will occur in two phases, which will ensure that the research questions will be adequately addressed. This dual collection process will allow each participant to reflect upon her or his intercultural experience. In accordance with the scope of this research and its hermeneutic nature, I will encourage participants to explore their multicultural experiences from whatever angle they may wish to do it. This will ensure credibility.

This study will follow Guba & Lincoln’s (1985) taxonomy on credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability.


Respondents’ thick narratives will be collected through semi-structured interviews in the form of qualitative “write in” questionnaires.


This will allow respondents to reflect on their experience and formulate written descriptions that will be analyzed without the need to transcribe them. Respondents, particularly non-native English speakers, will have the opportunity to find the words that more accurately describe their experience. This method is also inexpensive when done though through the e-mail, and doesn’t have a time limit.


No opportunity to observe para-language patterns such as non-verbal communication cues. No immediate opportunity to ask follow-up questions.


This may be done at a later stage to address certain aspects as they emerge from the narrative analysis. It will serve as a triangulation tool. Rather than implementing additional theoretical sampling, I will attempt to clarify and deepen the findings collected through the available written narratives. This will be done iteratively with the examination of available, relevant literature.



A new cultural environment exerts an influence on people’s experience, which may have an impact on people’s identities. I see the process of identity negotiation as a learning experience.

  • What is the influence of culture on personal identity
  • How is one’s experience influenced by perceived and/or projected avowed and ascribes identities?
  • What are the building blocks of personal identity?

Individual’s ability to successfully engage cross-culturally:

People who live outside of their original culture develop skills and knowledge to deal with their everyday reality. This process lies at the foundation of how successfully (however that may be defined) they engage with their context.

  • What are the difficulties encountered when living in another culture?
  • What are the perceived benefits of such experience?
  • What are the learning outcomes of such experience?
  • How do international sojourners balance their original cultural identity with the need for functionality in a new cultural environment?
  • What are the learning mechanisms at work?

Stages of Intercultural competence:

Stages of intercultural development are not set in stone; they accurately reflect the main levels of experience through which people refine their intercultural competencies. They can be considered stages of global learning.

  • How does one develop intercultural competence?
  • In what ways do peoples’ narratives reveal issues of denial, defense, minimization, acceptance, adaptation, integration as defined in Milton Bennett’s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity, and of transformation, an additional step in the development of intercultural competence as defined in the literature?

LITERATURE AND THEORY (very tentative)

The literature will serve as a foundation for the formulation of the interview questions; it will also serve as an aid for the iterative analysis of the finding as they emerge from the narratives.

The literature will include literature explored during the ALGC program and relevant scholarly publications on issues of intercultural communication. As an example, Milton Bennett’s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity could be used to inform my research questions.

Relevant literature will include publications on relevant topics, e.g.  Cross-cultural Adaptation, Multicultural Identity, Third-Culture Identity, Intercultural Communication Competence, the “A-B-C approach,” Culture Shock, Achieved Identity, experiential learning, perturbation, schemata.



Bennett, M. J. (1993). Towards Ethnorelativism: A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In R. M. Paige (Ed.), Education for the intercultural experience. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Cobern, W. W. (1993). Contextual Constructivism: The Impact of Culture on the Learning and Teaching of Science. In K. G. Tobin (editor), The practice of constructivism in science education (pp. 51-69). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Retrieved on Oct. 15, 2008 from http://www.wmich.edu/slcsp/SLCSP115/slcsp115.pdf

Lincoln, YS. & Guba, EG. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.


UR – Reflections on definitions

COURSE: Understanding Research—UR

FORUM: Elaborating the logics of research approaches

TOPICS: Research, ontology, epistemology

Step 2 – Part 1

Keywords: definitions, positivism, interpretivism, post-interpretivism,

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As I continue examining the readings, I realize that there is only so much that one can comment on the research papers under discussion without sounding redundant and repetitive.

Instead, I find myself engaged in a process of understanding of the philosophical questions that affect research. I previous posts the discussion branched out into the differences between qualitative and quantitative research, trying to better define the ontological and epistemological issues that lie at the roots of the different research designs.

I noticed that many of the terms used by Bryman are used differently by others. For example, William M.K. Trochim takes a more pragmatic approach, and his website provides a slightly different sequence of definitions. For Trochin the two main epistemological categories are in fact positivism vs. post-positivism (Bryman instead emphasizes positivism vs. interpretivism); furthermore Trochin places constructivism firmly under positivism, but he also allows for room for objectivity under the same epistemological family.

These readings are clearly both the result and the fuel of the academic disputes that have developed among social scientists. I find the debate interesting, but at the end of the day, I find it very time consuming and possibly even unproductive. In his website, Trochim also admits that

Clearly, all of this stuff is not for the faint-of-heart. I’ve seen many a graduate student get lost in the maze of philosophical assumptions that contemporary philosophers of science argue about. And don’t think that I believe this is not important stuff. But, in the end, I tend to turn pragmatist on these matters. Philosophers have been debating these issues for thousands of years and there is every reason to believe that they will continue to debate them for thousands of years more. Those of us who are practicing scientists should check in on this debate from time to time (perhaps every hundred years or so would be about right). We should think about the assumptions we make about the world when we conduct research. But in the meantime, we can’t wait for the philosophers to settle the matter. After all, we do have our own work to do!



William M.K. Trochim’s website: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/qual.php

UR – Epistemology and Ontology

COURSE: Understanding Research—UR

FORUM: Elaborating the logics of research approaches

TOPICS: Research, ontology, epistemology

Step 2 – Part 1

Keywords: ontology, epistemology, objectivism, constructivism, positivism, interpretivism

Link to blog

Link to forum


For me, understanding the nuances between ontology and epistemology has been a central point in my readings. It’s easy to find definitions on the two terms, but I still find it hard to actually see through the philosophical fog that surrounds them.

In a nutshell, I understand ontology as the philosophical position that one researcher has with regard to the world and the nature of social entities. The two extremities of this spectrum are objectivism and constructivism (or constructionism, as Bryman prefers to call it).

The latter view suggests that reality is socially constructed and that meanings result from such workings.  Objectivism, instead views life as being independent from actors, and therefore sees actions as independent, observable events.

I understand epistemology as the way we approach and define knowledge, which emphasises the relationship between the knower and the known. The two extremities in the epistemological spectrum are positivism and interpretivism.

Here is a table, extrapolated from readings, that summarizes the differences:


  • the world is external and objective (objectivism)
  • the observer is independent
  • science is value-free; focus on facts
  • Focus on facts
  • Look for causality and fundamental facts
  • deductive
  • Operationalise concepts to measure


  • World is socially constructive and subjective (constructivism)
  • Observer is part of what is observed
  • Science is driven by human interest
  • Focus on meaning
  • Try to understand what is happening
  • inductive
  • Multiple methods to establish different views

From my understanding, epistemology comes to include ontological issues, in that the positivist paradigm would include objectivist ontology, whereas the interpretivist (phenomenological) paradigm would include constructivist ontology. This is what gets me confused, as the two realms (ontology and epistemology) seem to be used these thorny issues?

GLL – on Transformation

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Freire

TOPICS: local global learning, development, Transformation, Adult Education

Step 3 – Part 1: Critical Consciousness

Keywords: Critical Consciousness, Freire, Laszlo, Macroshift,  Merirow, Youngman, enactivist orientation, transformational orientation,

Link to webpage

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Link to forum Link to Forum 2

Why is critical consciousness a necessary dimension of transformative adult education

Hi there!

Although our thoughts across the many forums may at times sound  redundant (mine included). I would like to add some “old” ideas that i had previously posted on Our Samarbeta discussion on Youngman , which already dealt with issues of transformation.  I am a bit hesitant to re-introduce these thoughts but I am doing that as I believe it is relevant to this particular forum, also considering that the audience has changed.

Here is a summary of what I believe TRANSFORMATION in Adult Education may be.

I suggest two levels of transformation: 1) personal/local, and 2) local/global. Not everyone and not every context may necessarily become part of either transformation process.


Constructivist progressive orientation

I believe that in this perspective the “educator helps link disparate experiences into a coherent whole.” (Dewey cited in Fenwick, p.3)   Learners 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.


This level is more relevant for our discussion. It incorporates the personal growth of the previous step and takes it to a higher level.

At this stage an educator may engage in the following practices:

  • Promoting the discussion of complex and “delicate” intercultural issues
  • Promoting awareness and recognition of issues of – among others – governmentability, self-subjugation, oppression, and discrimination.
  • Promoting awareness, recognition and critique of socially-relevant dimensions, including cultural assumptions. (Intercultural dimension)

I believe that this level, which has a strong political accent, may be approached in different ways, or even a combination of ways. Contextualizing and framing conditions of oppression and inequality is a prerequisite to adopting the most effective approach to global transformation. The role of the state, civil society, stakeholders, and other actors is a defining factor at this complex level of transformation. I have the feeling that most of the actions premised on transformation combine one or more of the following approaches.

Constructivist radical orientation

Here the teacher acts as a promoter of conscience and an external force that can empower students and facilitate social transformation. Freire’s pedagogy of conscientization seems to move in this direction, beyond the stiffness and the oppressing dictates of banking education. However, his ideas – as many of us have realized – are based on a set of dichotomous axioms that may not agree with changed conditions and discourses on transformative education of our time.

I also believe it’s important, for example in the case of South Africa, to consider the intercultural dimension. I believe 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. Ultimately, a radical orientation could be more effective at uncovering and possibly overcoming issues of oppression, cultural relativism and essentialism, and eventually 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. That’s when dialogue comes in, as a means and context for critical consciousness (awareness would be another word that comes to mind) building.

Constructivist transformational orientation

Here 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, as suggested by Freire. 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)

Enactivist orientation

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. (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 one to relate her/his professional practice to the emergence of a new thinking paradigm, which I consider central to the role of an educator.

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. But this is exactly the challenge of transformative education, which is experimental, forward and critical thinking. Freire certainly caught the essence of the imbalances that affect our societies (then, and today). The question for us, I believe, is to incorporate his ideas into the changing context of the third millennium.


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

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

Matoba, K. (2002) “Dialogue Process as Communication Training for Multicultural Organizations” in Bohnet-Joschko, S. (2002). Socially responsible management:

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

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Zelda Writes:

Dear All

I have read Oscar’s additonal posting.  Thanks so much.  I have asked this question previously, and am asking it again.  What do Mezirow and Youngman propose to change, through transformative adult education (Youngman) and transformative learning (Mezirow)?  is it the same?


Hi Zelda,

Sorry for not answering those questions earlier. Here are my thoughts in that regard.

Youngman: his idea of transformative adult education stems from a political analysis of issues of oppression, ultimately from a perspective derived from political economy. He views transformation through adult education as a collective process through which people (the “masses” as Freire would have said) are able to conquer issues of social inequality, disenfranchment, marginalization, discrimination, etc. To a lesser degree than Freire’s theory of conscientization, Youngmans displays a dichotomous perspective that is still heavily influenced by the juxtaposition of capitalist and Marxist class views of a political economy, even though he has come to include many aspects of social issues that cannot be examined from a traditional class perspective. (Feminism, environmentalism, etc) His thinking is the product of 19th and 20th centuries political economy discourses.

Merirow: The core of his transformative learning is the individual learners’ ability to construe, validate, and reformulate the meaning of their experience. The emphasis is on “perspective transformation” as a means to promote personal growth and, eventually influence the emergence of a new society. Rather than a society based on Youngman’s dichotomous views, Merirow envisions a society that would display the traits of a Third-Culture, where the new is not just a better version of the old, but is instead a transformed thinking paradigm. Merirow’s transformative learning is dialectic, suitable to challenge and discuss cultural assumptions through cognitive reflection (it 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”); (p. 13)

“Others’ views can act as mirrors for our own views, opening dialectic, helping us “unfreeze” our “meaning perspectives” (Mezirow 1991) and assumptions.  This is very different from Youngman’s exclusion of juxtaposed views. In Merirow’s case we confront and challenge the taken-for-granted norms— what’s wrong with how I am seeing what happened and how it happened?—leading to a dramatic shift or transformation in the learner’s way of viewing the world.

To summarize, I believe that Youngman’s views on transformation are driven by political discourses and focus on social issues from a political economy perspective. Merirow instead views transformation as an individual process of growth derived from self-reflection and a dialectical approach with the other that will eventually transcend individual differences and give raise to something new akin to a Third-Culture. In this regard, Merirow’s theory is undoubtedly systems-based.







GLORIA wrote:     link to forum

While oppression remains, so Freire’s ideas remain relevant and more sophisticated, complex or modern concepts serve only to cover up the basics – poverty, inequality, exploitation etc.

Hi Gloria,

Thank you for adding some additional thoughts. Your posts are always interesting.

I’d like to comment on the above, as I am not sure I can agree with you on that hundred per cent. You are absolutely right that the issues remain the same, taking us all back to the overarching role of power in our societies.

During the past century we witnessed a ping pong game between Marxism and Capitalism. They were just two sides of the same coin: they shared the same basic world view. When I consider other options is mainly because such dichotomous game didn’t really change much for marginalized people. It even created additional marginalization and oppression that are more difficult to be detected, as they are so much based on the victims’ “willing” co-operation. (Consumerism, to support the socialist or the capitalist economies, is all about “free” participation.)

I certainly agree that mere philosophical speculations on alternative solutions are not going to feed the starving masses, nor are they going to “solve” anything per se’. I believe, however, that we need to move beyond the Cartesian discourses that have dominated the scene since the age of the Enlightenment. If we don’t do that, we remain stuck.


GLL – on critical consciousness and transformative education

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, development, Transformation, Adult Education

Step 3 – Part 1: Critical Consciousness

Keywords: Critical Consciousness, Freire, Laszlo, Macroshift, enactivist orientation, transformational orientation

Link to blog

Link to forum

Discuss the relevance of “critical consciousness” as a dimension of transformative adult education. Why is critical consciousness a necessary dimension of transformative adult education


Freire’s ideas offer a valid approach to transformative adult education although they often sound too dichotomous (see my previous comments). Freire supports the transition to a new epoch in which oppressed people will eventually enjoy the benefit of just-for-all participatory democracy. His ideas remind me of Ervin Laszlo’s Macroshift, which describe the kind of all-encompassing change that occurs at certain points in human history.

I believe that epochal transformations may also happen independently from people’s actions, and that people are not necessarily able to control such epochal shifts. We can – however – try to understand the processes, so as to feel less “victims” and more “participants”.


Freire’ relies on critical consciousness to rid society from oppression. As suggested in the quotes above, education plays a pivotal role in such process. It seems to me that what Freire proposes sounds like what many have called “critical thinking skills.” Freire’s approach is however more political, possibly entangled in the contextual conditions of his time and place.

Nevertheless, I believe that his ideas are valuable as a platform for transformative education.

For this course I have looked at other sources outside of the provided readings, only to find out that the ideas around transformative education emerge as an interconnected web of thoughts. Freire talks about active participation, which reminds me to the concept of Active Citizenship we discussed earlier in the course. Freire’s idea of critical consciousness is not unlike what others have written on transformative education, in particular Merizow’s “Transformative Learning Theory” advocating a societal emancipatory change achieved through individual transformation. Lena Wilhelmson believes that “perspective transformation leads to a revised frame of reference, and a willingness to act on the new perspective.”

In a web-like, holistic, interdisciplinary fashion, these ideas resonate with Intercultural Communication discourses on transcending constrains in our current mind frame, and reconstructing dominant narratives through dialogue and self-reflection.

I believe that the complexity found in transformative adult education requires a systems-thinking approach. It is very interesting for me to notice how many of the discussions we had in the past provide a broad framework for understanding these issues. To conclude this post, I believe Freire’s approach fits into a radical orientation to education. In order to implement societal and personal transformation, we can move on to a transformational orientation (as suggested by Merizow), and eventually transcend the political aspect that still pervades Freire’s writings through a highly participative enactivist orientation that states that “learning cannot be understood except in terms of co-emergence: each participant’s understandings are entwined with those of other participants, and individual knowledge co-emerges with collective knowledge.” (Fenwick, p. 49)

Like in Freire’s advocacy for the emergence of a new era, enactivist educators “can provide feedback loops to a system as it experiments with different patterns leading out from disequilibrium,” (Fenwick, p.50) the system breaking point sometimes heralds the start of a paradigmatic macroshift, as suggested by Ervin Laszlo.


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

Wilhelmson, L. (2002) On the Theory of Transformative Learning, In Bron, A. & Schemmann, M. Bochum (Eds.) Social science theories in adult education research (180-210) Studies in international adult education, v. 3. Münster: Lit Verlag.

If you are interested in learning more about Dr Laszlo’s Macroshift check out the suggested links:






Anita wrote:

I agree. Fenwick (2001) identified some critiques of the criticial resistance orientation to adult education:

  • the repressive potential in boundaries (e.g., monolithic “dominant ideology” that is manipulative and evil, mass of passive, homogeneous non-critical victims)
  • the need to examine our positions as the “good liberator”, our right to impose grand visions for people’s lives, or to essentialize, simply, or problematize people’s experience
  • the focus on power

and I think these apply to Freire to some extent.

Helga Wrote:

While we are debating theory, it might be useful to look at actual results of intervention programs. Friere tried to transplant his ideas to Guinea Bissau without taking into consideration the social differences between Brazil and that African country.

“in 1980, the Department of Adult Education of Guinea-Bissau declared the following:

We could say that literacy in the years 1976 to ’79 involved 26,000 students and the results were practically nil.

(This statement was taken from a government document dated at Bissau, November 8, 1980. A military coup took place on November 14, 1980. Frank Tenaille, Las 56 Africas (México: Siglo XXI, 1981), p. 134.)”

My comments:

Thank you Helga and Anita for your strong reminders!

Yes, while we are sitting here discussing poverty and education, with a cup of coffee steaming on the table, people out there – many of them! – are feeling the blunt of modern days’ politics of exclusion. In my case – from my rented space in one of the richest places on the planet, surrounded with all kind of examples of wasteful habits and capitalist mismanagement and exploitation – I fee ill equipped to approach issues of survival that sound and look so alien to the world I live in. I can, as we all do in these forums, discuss those issues, maybe hoping that something at some point will change, although it is clear that my term papers are not going to provide for safe shelters and food for anyone.

Today I was doing some web search on the concept of Ubuntu. I came across a video of Nelson Mandela.  Soon after that, I found a pamphlet that brought back, with awakening intensity, all the drama that does not transpire in the kind of intellectual discussions we are having. Here is an excerpt:

“They always want to talk for us and about us but they must allow us to talk about our lives and our struggles.

We need to get things clear. There definitely is a Third Force. The question is what is it and who is part of the Third Force? Well, I am Third Force myself. The Third Force is all the pain and the suffering that the poor are subjected to every second in our lives. The shack dwellers have many things to say about the Third Force. It is time for us to speak out and to say this is who we are, this is where we are and this how we live. The life that we are living makes our communities the Third Force. Most of us are not working and have to spend all day struggling for small money. AIDS is worse in the shack settlements than anywhere else. Without proper houses, water, electricity, refuse removal and toilets all kinds of diseases breed. The causes are clearly visible and every Dick, Tom and Harry can understand. Our bodies itch every day because of the insects. If it is raining everything is wet – blankets and floors. If it is hot the mosquitoes and flies are always there. There is no holiday in the shacks. When the evening comes – it is always a challenge. The night is supposed to be for relaxing and getting rest. But it doesn’t happen like that in the jondolos. People stay awake worrying about their lives. You must see how big the rats are that will run across the small babies in the night. You must see how people have to sleep under the bridges when it rains because their floors are so wet. The rain comes right inside people’s houses. Some people just stand up all night.”

There is more. Read on if you want at: http://www.eblackstudies.org/ebooks/ubuntu.pdf

As you see, the global web connects us in interesting and powerful ways, allowing us a glimpse into otherwise hidden aspects of others’ experience.

Participating in this course has been good and very interesting. Nevertheless, I cannot hide my discomfort when I open the Pandora box of “the world problems” and realize how powerless I feel. We talk about transformation, and we debate whether Merirow’s or Freire’s ideas would work better. It all seems so irrelevant when we stare real-life cases in the eyes.

Ubuntu to everyone!


FLIP: synthesizing my learning experience

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

FORUM: Koala

TOPICS: Fenwick, reflections, adult learning, experiential learning, constructivism,

WEEK 10 – Task 2: synthesizing my learning

Link to forum    Link to blog


1)   What is your case (expressing the learning dimension in your workplace) a case of? (restate)

My learning dimension is the Intercultural Communication dimension.

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. My hot issue prompts me to advocate for the introduction of Intercultural Communication practices into the college educational and work environment.

2) What do you now see as the identity issues that relate to your learning dimension?

I have identified two levels at which identity is negotiated within my professional practice:

At the micro-level, we engage in identity building, i.e. the building of our autobiography, through the construction of a narrative made up of carefully selected episodes. Such narrative is likely to fit into existing discourses of education and actualization.

At the macro-level, we engage in the contextual reality of our professional practice, which may result in having to negotiate our identity and “adjust” it to our workplace environment.

3) What conceptual understandings of adult learning in practice do you feel relate to your learning dimension?

The most appropriate approach cannot really be established a priory.

The following structure develops from a system, non-linear perspective.

I would exclude Lave and Wenger’s participation perspective, as it believes that “the educator’s role is not to develop individuals, but to help them participate meaningfully in the practices they choose to enter.” (Greeno, 1997) (Fenwick, p.36)

I have selected two levels that will be helpful to outline my position.

Micro level:

Constructivist (humanist/progressive)

Macro (global) level:

Constructivist (radical)

Constructivist (transformational, Merizow)

System approach (enactivist perspective)

4) What are the best actions that you feel would move the learning dimension forward? Why would these actions be best? How might these actions be organised as a learning strategy in your workplace?


Support noticing, mindfulness, and reflection activities.

Relational view (Chappell et al.)

By acting at the two levels suggested above, I will be able to raise awareness of the intercultural communication dimension. By acting as a communicator, story maker, and interpreter I will assist learners in the emergence of a new consciousness through processes of transformation.

At present, in my current workplace I can only see room for action at the micro level.

Injecting the intercultural learning dimension into my workplace will require institutional commitment. This will require me to renegotiate my role within the college by promoting my level of “intercultural expertise.” That would require a shift in my role towards a more pro-active and solution-oriented approach.

Firstly, with regards to the students, towards the recognition of the cultural differences embedded in their narratives. That could be done by implementing curricular changes in courses and by explicitly recognizing the intercultural communication competence.

Secondly, with regards to staff/faculty, towards the implementation of appropriate initiatives such as 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.

Intervention at the macro level remains currently a philosophical exercise, given the education orientations currently in place. It remains to be seen whether changes at the micro level will also open the way to a transformation in attitudes that will acknowledge issues of false consciousness, confessional education, and governmentability. The kind of intercultural shift I am advocating would need to extend way beyond current essentialist views and embrace the challenges presented in a systemic paradigmatic shift.

FLIP: my role as an adult educator

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

FORUM: Koala

TOPICS: Fenwick, reflections, adult learning, experiential learning, constructivism,

WEEK 10 – Task 1: my role as an adult educator

Link to forum    Link to blog

Task 1

1) Select a quote from this reading that is your favourite or that you find significant for whatever reason

The co-emergence of an entwined understanding:

“The enactivist perspective insists that learning cannot be understood except in terms of co-emergence: each participant’s understandings are entwined with those of other participants, and individual knowledge co-emerges with collective knowledge.” (p. 49)
“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. Naturally, educators must be clear about their own entanglement and interests in the emerging systems of thought and action.” (p. 49)

Think about why you have selected this quote.  Then consider what your insights arising from this process of selection and reflection help you notice about your learning dimension.

There are so many quotes in Fenwick’s paper that would help represent my orientation on adult learning and that would be suitable to address the Intercultural Communication learning dimension outlined in my hot case. I selected a quote on the enactivist perspective as it links my reflections to the broader, global perspective of whole system thinking. That allows me to consider my professional practice as part of a much more complex hologram that relates to the emergence of a new thinking paradigm. Traditional approaches to intercultural understanding have attempted to stereotype cultural traits and perpetuate the Eurocentric, essentialist view of culture. The enactivist perspective allows for ways to transcend such confinements.

How do Fenwick’s comments on the role of the adult educator (identified above) help you to view your role in addressing the learning dimension you have identified?

  • I relate to Fenwick’s quote because it is linked to a new paradigm of learning emerging from a whole system thinking approach. It allows me to transcend the confinements of traditional education and of the established worldview in which our education system is rooted. Acting in a differentiated role of a communicator-story maker-interpreter is really what I like doing as an educator. That entails an investigative, open-ended approach to understanding and learning that is not separate from teaching. The language used in the enactivist perspective is conducive to understanding relations between systems, including the interplay of actors and issues in the education universe.

2) Then reflect on your overall experience in this course. What will you take away with you?

See below under 3)

3) Through this reflection, crystallise a ‘take home’ message. Then describe in one paragraph what prompted this message.

The main value in this course has been the recognition that the vast majority of us learners already engage in their respective professional practices. This implies that, in our daily interaction, the emphasis is more on reflection and effectiveness than on doing research. FLIP has allowed for an open-ended approach to learning, and valued written outcomes that reflect learners’ experience rather than the enumeration of academic scholarly citations. The work group enhanced the processing and reflective phase without turning into the usually debated chore of “writing a group paper.” This course has also showed a conducive and respectful learning environment free of wounding learning drama and has provided a very effective hands-on experience in applied mindfulness and reflection.

I will come away with renewed confidence that “another learning is possible,” paraphrasing the well-known motto of the World Social Forum.

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