FLIP: my position on adult education

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

FORUM: Koala

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

WEEK 9 – Task 1: my position on adult education

Link to forum Link to blog

Task 1

Read the rest of the Fenwick monograph, ensuring that you understand the different perspectives on adult learning that she describes.

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

Which of the perspectives described by Fenwick do you feel best ‘captures’ each of the reasons you had identified in Learning Task 1?

REASON 1: Adult education is important to me because it allows people to create an alternative path to personal development and education, and creates an arena for opportunities that would be otherwise restricted to younger learners.

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 agree with critics of this perspective on that “Relations and practices related to dimensions of race, class, gender, and other cultural/personal complexities, apparently ignored by situative theorists, determine flows of power, which in turn determines different individuals’ ability to participate meaningfully in particular practices of systems.” (p. 38)

Knowles’ perspective seems to better capture reason 1 as it recognizes the following:

  • The educator is a facilitator of learning
  • Past experiences need to be honored, shared, analyzed, linked
  • The learning environment is based on trust, authenticity, integrity, mutual respect, and patience.

The educator does not need to take on a psychoanalytic role, but remains committed to the learners’ progress, self-development and growth, in line with the constructivist perspective.

However, Usher and Edwards criticize the traps of “confessional” education practices that adhere to standardized pedagogical approaches. Therefore, to create real opportunities that would allow learners to rise above currently entrenched patterns of exclusion, oppression and disempowerment (Foucault, p.42) and to escape the danger of governmentability, I would argue in favor of a transformational perspective. Foucault also reminds us that “the notion of individual choice and freedom within such [confessional” education] practices are illusions.” (p. 43)

REASON 2: Adult education is important to me because it also allows for broader, less academic discussion of issues that are important to many.
The most appropriate approach cannot really be established a priory. There are many factors involved, such as age, culture(s), educational goals, learning context, expectations, desire to learn, level of commitment and participations. When I think of a non-performance-driven learning environment, then I favor a transformational approach to adult education. That would also be more suitable to address the intercultural learning dimension; free the discussion from established, stereotypical essentialist views of cultures; and explore and clarify issues of identity, assumptions, otherization, representation through thick description of discourses and personal narratives.

From a more theoretical vantage point, I would also consider introducing learners to the fascinating realm of the ecological/enactivist perspective. In a sense, I feel that as a teacher I tend to appreciate the roles suggested in this approach: as a communicator, a story maker, and an interpreter. They all help learners “to make community sense of the patters emerging among these complex systems.” (p.49) Ultimately, this is the way that I really believe transformation can be enacted. From an intercultural communication perspective, 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.

What do you notice about doing this learning task:

1. Did you find it easy to find a match between your reason and the perspectives presented by Fenwick?

Yes, it has been relatively easy and very interesting to use a newly acquired vocabulary and adjust it to the learning dimension in my hot case and to the context of my professional practice.

2. What was the basis of the decisions you made about where to locate yourself? What part of the reading made you recognise where you ‘fitted’?

As I said before, I do not really think that I have to fit into any given orientation. I posted earlier in the course that I see myself as a “bridge,” which mean that I am interested in different perspectives and have the ability to synthesize and find meaning across disciplines.

For now I would say that the basis for my decision to locate myself in a certain orientation is to be found in my own approach to learning and experiencing, which is anchored to a systemic world view and partly represented in the enactivist perspective.

3. Were you located in more than one perspective?

Yes, I find myself at the intersection of several perspectives. I will analyze this in more detail in a separate post. Being situated across disciplines and paradigms is not unusual for me, as I also happen to believe in a systemic approach to understanding that emphasizes relationships over the individual characteristics of the actors and context separately considered.

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SUMMARY: ASSIGNMENT 2.1

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

TOPICS: FACTORS OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION IN EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

SUMMARY: ASSIGNMENT  2.1

FACTORS OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION (link to forum)

Here are some summarizing thoughts on factors of social exclusion and discrimination that I gathered from the readings.

In ILO’s paper on “learning and Training for Work” we have seen how enabling access to education and training is viewed as a pillar of policy making efforts to ensure people’s participation in “economic and social life.” (p.1) Education and training are seen as the gateway to employment, which in turn would help overcome poverty. Such premises inform current E.U. policies on access and inclusion. Many countries’ training and education systems are based on such premises, as clearly explained by Peter Kearns and George Papadopolous in “Building a learning and training culture: The experience of five OECD countries.” However, in my view such approach may be too linear, discounting the complexity of present day’s economic disarray. It is definitely true that “governments throughout the world are taking action to promote access of these groups to education, training and skills development in different ways,” (ILO, ch.2 p. 12) but in reality such programs may have limited effects on general employability during dire economic times.

But who has access to learning and work? Personally, I believe that to date education credentials serve as powerful access-regulating devices, which means that access to the job market depends on applicants’ formal credentials. There are of course many other forms of more or less overt discrimination that may affect access to the job market are: gender, nationality, age, language, immigration status, university affiliation, perceived ethnic profile.

Most of the aforementioned factors were not addressed in the readings, However, access to employment and continuing academic and professional formation may be hindered by other more “technical” factors that were discussed in the articles. Here is a brief summary of them as they emerged from my reading.

1) ISSUES OF ACCESS WITHIN COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE

Guile & Griffiths recognize that access to skill formation in communities of practice may be subject to discriminatory policies. “This raises the question of how easily students gain access to and operate in such work contexts. A recurring assumption in the general education and VET work experience literature is that this happens ipso facto. However, this neglects the extent to which participating in a ‘community of practice’ can be highly problematic. As Gheredi et al. (1998) have observed, it requires ‘host’ organisations actively to provide opportunities for learners to observe, discuss and try out different practices with members of the ‘community’ they have temporarily joined.” (p.118)

Power

As I wrote in my other post on power in “Communities of domination,” Huzzard recognizes the role of power in issues of access to learning in communities of practice. He suggests that “the power dimension was arguably lost in a process whereby the communities of practice became “popularised” to appeal to a management audience (Brown and Duguid, 1991).” (p. 352) He also recognizes that language can be a factor of social exclusion and discrimination: “In unequal power relations, the dominant party may actively choose to communicate or construct reality by selecting certain linguistic formations, or may simply communicate in the taken-for-granted formations which seem appropriate in context.”(p. 355)

2) ISSUES OF ACCESS TO COOPERATIVE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES

Grosjean in Co-op Education recognizes that the Canadian Co-op model is becoming increasingly like an elite program with restricted access.

“With restrictive access to co-op and privileged opportunities for ‘good’ jobs becoming the norm, co-op is showing signs of becoming an elite program.” (p.209) “Access to co-op programs is becoming increasingly restrictive. Only ‘the best’ students are admitted.” (p.209) furthermore, co-op programs seem to favor students with good grades and with the learning styles that are conducive to receiving such grades. “Because academic rewards are based on grades, personal learning styles tend to favour those known to deliver the high grades required to remain in the co-op program.” (p.212)

3) ISSUES OF ACCESS TO THE JOB MARKET AND TO FURTHER JOB FORMATION OPPORTUNITIES

From my understanding, segmented labor market theory as presented by Defreitas serves as both a factor of discrimination that impacts access and participation , and as a policy feature that serves as perpetuating a system of inequality.

4) PERSONAL ISSUES THAT MAY LEAD TO EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION

I also believe that the experience of wounding learning as cited in Wojecki’s article may be a factor that may negatively affect a learner’s attitude towards further education (academic and workplace formation).

ISSUES OF POWER AND EXCLUSION

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

TOPICS:  ISSUES OF POWER AND EXCLUSION  (REVIEW OF THE READINGS)

ISSUES OF POWER AND EXCLUSION (link to itslearning)

Hi there,

After reviewing many of the articles for this segment of the course, I would like to share some thoughts on how issues of power and exclusions have been presented.

The first thing I noticed is that – when addressing such issues – the articles contextualize them in the work and learning environment of western economies. With the exception of Bennel’s article, the other articles do not deal with “power and exclusion” as factors of economic and social imbalances at the level of the globalized economy. This role is limited to workplace dynamics (mainly western) and to the impact on the delivery of on-the-job training within learning communities at work.

Across the articles, one finds the following definitions of “power” :

In Berrings et al. (Conceptualising On-the-job Learning Styles. Human Resource Development Review)

“Poell and van Moorsel (1998) define the learning climate as follows: “The temporary manifestation of the dominant norms, insights and rules regarding learning of a group, department or organization in shared practices in the field of learning which implicitly influences the learning activities employees undertake” (p. 35).” (p. 382)

In Billet (Co-participation at work)”power” is recognized as having an influence on affordances and co-participation in communities of practice. He says, citing others, that “the invitational qualities of the workplace are far from benign or evenly distributed. They are socially determined and are the product of power relations (Fenwick, 2001, Solomon, 1999).” (p.200)

In Defreitas (Segmented labor) there is a clear description of how segmented labor theory informs issues of power and exclusion.

In Huzzard (Communities of domination), power is discussed in its “managerial” brand, although the article makes an attempt at defining the different variations that can be observed in power. He, for example, criticizes the absence of attention for the power dimension in the original discussion on community of practices [ “the power dimension was arguably lost in a process whereby the communities of practice became “popularised” to appeal to a management audience (Brown and Duguid, 1991).” (p. 352) ]

He also offers the following definitions, that I find interesting as they help my understanding of these issues:

General definition of power: power, loosely, can be understood as the capacity of individuals to exert their will over others(Buchanan and Badham, 1999).(p.353)

Radical view of power: Lukes’ “radical” view on power (Lukes, 1974), sees organisations as arenas of domination whereby the powerful are in control of socialisation processes and political agendas.[…] Power, accordingly, can be exercised subconsciously – disconnected from any notion of intent. (p.354)

Relational  view: this view would situate power at the interface of work relations.

He also recognizes the role of language in power-related issues:

“In unequal power relations, the dominant party may actively choose to communicate or construct reality by selecting certain linguistic formations, or may simply communicate in the taken-for-granted formations which seem appropriate in context.”(p. 355)
In Wojecki‘s article (What’s identity got to do with it) collaborative learning and relational trust practices in workplace learning are presented as ways to re-direct power issues:

“Formal learning and vocational educational practices predominantly exercise an extraordinary amount of power in the structuring of training programmes, thus shaping imbalanced power relationships, particularly between educators and adult learners.” (p.178)

As we move forward with our group assignment, I hope that the above will serve as a base for further discussion within our group.

Andre Wojecki’s article: What’s identity got to do with it, anyway?

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

TOPICS:  ANDREW WOJECKI, wounding learning, relational trust

On Andrew Wojecki’s article: What’s identity got to do with it, anyway? (link to itslearning)

I found this article very interesting, mainly because it focuses on the human characteristics of learners. It gave me the opportunity to connect to my own needs as a learner, and – as a teacher – on the issue of “relational trust.”

It also provided a link to the previous course and my group’s report on the dimensions of global learning. In that report, we examined identity construction as one of the important dimensions in experiences of global learning.

To begin with, I would like to say that as much as I liked reading everyone’s final post for assignment 1, which gave me the opportunity to learn about other cultures’ approaches and relevant learning policies, I believe that – given the particular conditions under which such policies have been formulated – they would not be automatically transferable to other political, economic and learning settings, although they can provide powerful inspiration and more. I feel that by emphasizing the human aspect of the learning experience, the content of Wojecki’s article can more easily be understood and applied to a variety of contexts, including national, regional, vocational, workplace-related, and traditional-education related.

The article introduces the concept of WOUNDING LEARNING (169 – 170 -171):

“Individuals affected by wounding learning practices are learners who have experienced an “injury” through their participation in mainstream educational practices.” (p.171)

“These negative and emotive experiences therefore 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)

Comment: The article presents this concept as one that is limited to mainstream educational practices, without mentioning so-called alternative-experiential learning experiences. I believe that the latter ones can be equally crippling and devastating, should they fail to establish a productive trust relationship between the learning context and each individual learner, as they involve issues of group dynamics that, when not properly managed, they can have serious consequences both at the psychological level and at the level of the learning outcomes.

One way such wounding learning experiences may be re-dressed is by establishing COLLABORATIVE LEARNING BASED ON TRUST = “RELATIONAL TRUST”

A collaborative learning environment helps to foster a sense of ‘relational trust’ (Bryk and Schneider, 2003) within the group of adult learners. (p. 176)

This can be achieved by engaging in active listening within the collective construction of work practices (communities of practice, according to Wenger)

That is possible by recognizing the importance of personal narratives in the identity-building process. This of course would require an intensive investment of energy and skills on the part of educators.

QUESTIONS: Wojecki seems to believe that previous negative experiences can taint a learner’s perceptions and view on learning. The educator should then investigate the learner’s narrative and work with the students to overcome their recalcitrance. To me, this sounds like a therapeutic analytical approach that may – in my opinion – go way beyond the role of a teacher. Of course, I understand the benefits of such approach.

Here are two questions:

1) How much can be expected from teachers – in any of the learning contexts we examined so far – with regard to individual learner’s difficulties? Wojecki says: “Through examining and reflecting on how our teaching and assessment practices cultivate, encourage, and promote opportunities for adult learners to reflect on how they see themselves in the world, spaces may be created where learners experiment in re-authoring their identities for learning. As adult educators, we occupy privileged spaces in which we interact within the stories that comprise learners’ lives. Attending to learners’ identities, and listening to the stories of learning they tell and re-tell may assist us as we shape our own identities and practices as adult educators.” (p. 180)

As much as I like this approach, I can see the difficulties in adopting it, given the already heavy workload placed on educators.

2) What if the learner’s difficulties are not derived from previous negative experience? What if the learner’s attitude toward learning is one that is per se “unproductive,” independently from previous experiences? Such approach reminds me of what Garrison called “naïve constructivism.” I argue that there may be a different kind of poor learner, different from the “wounded learner” presented in this paper.

I’d like to conclude this post on a positive note, citing Wojecki:

“Through committing with learners to creating new learning opportunities

and experiences that help to reshape or open up possibilities for one’s designated

identity, new futures may be imagined.” (p. 175)

Education and Formation in Trentino-South Tyrol


Intercontinental Master’s Program in Adult Learning and Global Change

Course: Work and Learning  (UBC, Vancouver, Canada) Assignment 1.3: Final Post

Instructors: Dr. Garnet Grosjean

Discussion Group: The IncREDibles    Tutor: Deo Bishundayal            Date: 02/ 13/2009

QUESTION:

How would you classify the policies pursued toward work and learning by your own country compared to the descriptions provided in the readings? In other words, are the suggestions in the readings similar or different from what you perceive happening in your country? Maximum length for this submission is 1000 words.

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Current development and discourses on work and learning

TOPICS: POLICIES, SKILL FORMATION, PROVINCE OF TRENT,   E.U., learning, LIFE-LONG LEARNING

ASSIGNMENT 1.3 FINAL POST (link to Itslearning forum)

ASSIGNMENT 1.3 FINAL POST (link to e-portfolio)

ASSIGNMENT 1.3 FINAL POST (link to Essays)

Preamble

According to Italian Law, in the Region Trentino-South Tyrol education and skill formation are the domain of the autonomous provinces of Trent and Bolzano. Consequently, in these matters provincial laws override national laws and regulations. (Statuto Speciale, Art. 8)

This post will address how this assignment’s questions relate to the case of the Autonomous Province of Trent, next referred to as “the Province.”

Brief overview of the provincial context for work and learning.

The provincial system of “Education and Formation” is regulated by a provincial law, a long and comprehensive document that addresses many aspects of education and professional formation in the Province. (Legge 7 agosto 2006 n. 5) Next are some salient principles presented in the law that I deem relevant to this post:

  • The establishment of a comprehensive education system named “Provincial Education System (sistema educativo provinciale); (Art. 1)
  • The central role of public schools; (Art.2)
  • The definition of learning as relevant to human, cultural, social and professional development, from a perspective based on social integration and the building of relations with others and the region. (Art.2)
  • Education and professional formation must promote local economic and social sustainable development, and also support individuals’ choices with regard to work opportunities at the local, national, and European level. The curriculum must be informed by principles of peace, solidarity and international co-operation; (Art.2)
  • The recognition of and support for life-long education and learning;(Art.2, 68)
  • Provision for inclusion with regard to people with special needs and social disadvantages;(Art.2)
  • The promotion of professional formation and development through opportunities available locally, in the E.U. and abroad;(Art.2)
  • The promotion of co-operative education projects between the Provincial Education System and regional society and enterprises;(Art.2)
  • The presence of a network of vocational schools and of co-operative  venues for formative work experiences (similar to Canada’s); (Art. 65)
  • The establishment of a system for “advanced professional formation” (alta
  • formazione professionale); (Art. 67)
  • The promotion of Adult Education opportunities at different levels; (Art. 69)
  • The view of Education and life-long learning as both agents and product of “active citizenship.” (Art. 61, 69)

Brief comparative Analysis of the local context.

Although it was difficult to locate material on the topic with regard to the Province of Trent, I believe that – based on my own learning in this course – the system established by the Provincial Government is consistent with European Union policies. In particular, the important concept of “active citizenship” presented in the Provincial Law also appears in a citation in the ILO chapter. According to the EU Memorandum on lifelong learning, active citizenship is about how “people participate in all spheres of economic and social life, the chances and risks they face in trying to do so, and the extent to which they feel that they belong to, and have a fair say in, the society in which they live”. Furthermore, The Cologne Charter (1999) – also cited by ILO – calls for “a renewed commitment by governments, investing to enhance education and training at all levels; by the private sector, training existing and future employees; and by individuals, developing their own abilities and careers.” Universal access to learning and training for all, including the disadvantaged and illiterate, and the importance of life-long learning is also emphasized.(Chapter 1, p. 7) In its provincial education and formation network, the Province seems to adhere to accepted European views and recommendations.

I perceive the provincial system as a mixture of traditional learning approaches and social constructivist views. It is the result is a holistic framework that organizes the different levels of education, formation, professional development, co-operative projects, and life-long learning in agreement with broad and inclusive E.U. recommendations. These ideas find support in Illeris’ article, particularly in his model of multilayered learning based on a social constructivist approach that views learning as wrapping around several dimensions that include both the social and individual levels; cognition and emotions; and technical-organizational and socio-cultural contexts.(Illeris, pp.432,434,440)

In the past, at least in Europe, we have witnessed a welfare view of society that influenced many of the employment and formation policies in the European Community first, and later in the E.U. As explained in Kearns and Papadopoulos’ article, to this day, many countries’ education and training plans are founded on such premises. (2000)

Historically, education in the Province is rooted in the Central European tradition that still informs relevant policies in Austria and Germany, where a dual system of cooperation between educational institutions and employers exists. (Kearns and Papadopoulos, p.4). However, I believe that the original framework has been expanded and adapted to the needs of today’s society. In a systemic effort to develop an all-encompassing view of future developments, the provincial government has integrated policies of social inclusion with – among others – policies that recognize the need for personal growth/affirmation and environmental/economic sustainability.

I think that the provincial system strongly promotes “social capital.” However, I believe that such concept is understood in the terms defined by the OECD as “aspects of social life – the existence of networks, institutions, policies, norms and relationships – that enable people to act together, create synergies, and build partnerships,” (Kearns and Papadopoulos, p.16), rather than by Putman’s initial definition as “the networks, norms, and social trust in a given social organization that enable cooperation and collaboration toward mutually beneficial outcomes.” (Smith, p. 70)

In conclusion, I would argue that the Province is moving away from the original idea of education being a product of the welfare state and part of a dual system that benefited the needs of late 20th century’s employment market. We are witnessing the transformation of the aforementioned approach into a matrix of relationally connected learning contexts that engages the many stakeholders and agents in and outside the region. This results into a multileveled dialogue aimed at the development of experiences of life-long learning towards the construction of professional competencies and active citizenship at the local, national, European, and international level.

ADDENDUM

This post was based on Block 1 readings. Additional resources are listed below, together with the sources cited in the post.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Illeris, K. (2004). A Model for Learning in Working Life. Journal of Workplace Learning, 16 (8), 431-441.

International Labour Organization. Learning and Training for Work in the Knowledge Society. (Only Chapters 1 and 2 required reading.) Retrieved January 5, 2009 from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/employment/skills/hrdr/report/ch_int.htm

Kearns, P. and Papadopoulos, G. (2000). Building a Learning and Training Culture: The Experience of Five OECD Countries. National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Leabrook, Australia. Retrieved on January 30, 2009 from http://www.ncver.edu.au/research/proj/nr9015.pdf

Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Legge 7 agosto 2006 n. 5, Sistema educativo di istruzione e formazione del Trentino, (08/16/2006), Bollettino ufficiale della Regione Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol n. 33, suppl. n.2 (testo originale), Retrieved on Feb.9, 2009 at http://www.vivoscuola.it/Normativa/Leggi-prov/doc/LEGGE-PROVINCIALE-7-agosto-2006-n.-5-vigente-al-05.11.07.pdf

Smith, P.J. (2003). Workplace Learning and Flexible Delivery. Review of Educational Research 73 (1), 53-88.

Statuto Speciale per la Regione Trentino-Alto Adige/Suedtirol, Testo unico – D.P.R. 31 agosto 1972, n. 670, (11/20/1972), Gazzetta Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana, n. 301, Retrieved on February 10, 2009  at: http://www.regione.taa.it/normativa/statuto_speciale.pdf

Reply to Christine Wilson’s post (Paloniemi’s article)

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Current development and discourses on work and learning

TOPICS: S. PALONIEMI, SKILL FORMATION, Phenomenography, tacit knowledge, workplace learning, intuition, motivation

Reply to Christine Wilson’s post (link to Itslearning)

Hi Christine,

I believe the number of participants was 43, but that doesn’t make a big difference, I think. (-:  The findings of Paloniemi’s phenomenographic research confirm once again that learning is a social experience, and that workers “valued work experience as the main source of their competence.” (p. 444)

However, employees also say that “The accumulation of experience [alone] does not necessarily add to or develop job-competence.” (p.446) Paloniemi recognize that it’d be naïf to “assume that all experience has positive effects on competence construction.” (p.448)

The article views learning from a constructivist perspective that reminds of von Glaserfeld’s ideas, and I think that by recognizing the collective dimension of learning it’s also anchored in the situated learning theory of communities of practice. (p.440)

The theme of collective learning is a common one, which I consistently encountered in many of the articles. For example, Smith cites Stacey: “Social conversation provides the learner with a context and stimulus for thought construction and learning; thus the group contributes to learners’ understanding beyond what they could achieve individually.” (in Smith’s article, p.76).

In Paloniemi’s article, I find particularly interesting what she says about the concept of work experience, which plays an important role in the acquisition of:

  • Practical skills and knowledge required in specific occupations and job-tasks.
  • Knowledge related to the work community and organisation.
  • Knowledge that helps one to assess one’s own work and ways of working and acting. (p.444)

In his article, Smith also makes a similar argument when citing a quote by von Glaserfeld that supports the importance of experience in constructivist terms: “The constructivists hold that learners construct knowledge from the circumstances in which they experience that knowledge (von Glasersfeld, 1987).” (in Smith’s, p.56)

Furthermore, according to Paloniemi, the development of experience becomes the basis of professional identity formation. She recognizes how experience holds together an employee’s learning path by weaving past knowledge into current processes of workplace learning. This overarching use of experience benefits the employees in their construction of both explicit and tacit competences. Paloniemi also says that in such a devised learning process, intuition and learning motivation are valuable ingredients both in the construction and as outcome of experience.

Reply to Garnet: George Langelett, Human Capital: A Summary of the 20th Century Research

GARNET WROTE: Aside from the terminology, what do you think of Human Capital theory as away to measure economic returns to education and training? Is there another way to measure these economic returns? What would that look like?

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Current development and discourses on work and learning

TOPICS: G. LANGELETT, HUMAN CAPITAL, SKILL FORMATION, QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

Reply to Garnet: George Langelett, Human Capital: A Summary of the 20th Century Research (link to Itslearning)

Hi Garnet,

Thank you for your post. I find it very thought-provoking. I still believe though that HC theory offers a linear approach that does not have the necessary scope for dealing with much broader issues than just economic ones. Nevertheless, I understand that HC theory is based on economics, and I will consider its implications from that perspective. The questions you are asking are important, and I will consider them closely, as I also believe that, from a strictly economic perspective, Langelett’s article offers a way to address the questions you raised with regard to the financial/economic returns to education and training. To me it is a typical quantitative approach to measuring the several parameters that define a person’s and a country’s economic standards. As such, it does not necessarily measure issues of “quality,” which are difficult to quantify. Therefore if we assume that the laws of economics are accurate, then we can use them to try and measure returns to education by employing appropriate mathematic models. From what I read, it seems that such models have made it possible to calculate such returns with a certain degree of accuracy, due in part to the exclusion of qualitative variables.

How could such calculations be made more accurate? If we assume that the monetary evaluation of returns to education resulting from HC models were indicative of a successful investment, then it would be interesting to measure that index against qualitative parameters that were not initially included. Let me try with an example. If someone has a decent income, owns a house and a car (items that are quantitatively measurable), that person may be ranking high in returns to education, compared to someone with a lower income and no properties. However, would that person’s standards still be considered successful if we were to include the negative impact of issues that may be directly linked to that person professional situation, such as commuting time, unsatisfactory working environment, lack of access to cultural venues, low sense of community (suburban sprawl), and environmental issues (pollution, noise, etc). I believe that such inclusion would increase the accuracy of current HC measurements. Granted, it would require resources and time to carry out the relevant qualitative research. The results, however, may end up shifting the emphasis of HC equations towards currently disregarded aspects. Such shift could have a transformational impact on how education, work, income, well-being, health, self-actualization and more are ranked in our societies.

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