On teaching and identity

It is important to keep in mind that, despite all our good intentions, we may still remain trapped in the cultural framework from which we have emerged and in which we operate. This means that we construct our professional identity as teachers not as freely as we may think, and frame it so as it conforms to the established context, which remains for the most part unchallenged and is self-perpetuating. We need to keep in mind that in some cases “the self participates in its own subjugation and domination whether it is through ‘false consciousness’ produced by membership of a particular social group, or the internalisation of social ‘oppression’ through individual ‘repression’ ”. (Chappell et al, 2003, p. 6) The challenge for me, as a teacher participating in a professional context is to recognize such dynamics when engaging in mindful reflection.

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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

Link to blog

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.

1) TRANSFORMATION AT THE LOCAL/PERSONAL LEVEL (a.k.a. personal growth)

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.

2) AT THE LOCAL/GLOBAL LEVEL

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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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?

Zelda

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.

Best,

Oscar

USEFUL LINKS:

http://ezinearticles.com/?Mezirows-Transformational-Learning-Theory&id=937072

http://www.ericdigests.org/1999-2/adulthood.htm

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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.

Oscar

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.

FLIP: orientations to experiential learning at my workplace

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

FORUM: Koala

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

WEEK 8 – Task 2: orientations to experiential learning

Link to forum

Link to blog

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

Chapter 1

Keywords

Experiential learning

Constructivism

Adult Education

John Dewey

Andragogy

Freire

Boud

Watskin and Marsick

Progressive

Radical

Humanistic

I have two part-time jobs. One at a corporate art college, the other one teaching adults in the foreign language evening program at Seattle University. Since my hot issue took place at the art college, I will consider the questions for this task as they apply to that context

1) How prevalent do you feel ‘experiential’ learning is as the basis of an approach to adult learning in your workplace setting? What evidence do you draw on to reach this position?

My workplace is organized around a corporate framework that streamlines educational approaches across its network of colleges.

At first it would seem that my college has adopted many of the elements found in the constructivist-humanistic perspective, including an emphasis on student-centered teaching and critical thinking theories. This is reflected in the course syllabi.

In spite of a number of adult learners found among the students, adult learning practices are not specifically addressed and/or recognized.

Experiential learning, however, finds recognition in the coursework, as many of the college’s programs focus on the development of vocational skills.

2) Are you able to see evidence of either the progressive, humanist or radical orientation to adult learning (Fenwick, p.7) in your workplace? What ‘evidence’ do you call on in making your judgement?

Curricular activities cover a broad range of hands-on learning. I believe that the curricular competencies fall within the progressive and humanistic orientations.

Progressive: Students are made aware of the level of responsibility required in their educational path. They engage in problem-solving activities to become successful in their chosen fields.

Humanistic: The General Education Department 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 relies on humanistic guidelines, as I realized during my teacher’s training, which emphasized student-centered learning. (I remember “The biggest enemy to learning is the talking teacher.” – John Holt)

Evidence of these two orientations is found in course documents and school policies.

3) Which of the orientations do you feel best captures your own approach/ orientation as a learning practitioner in your workplace?

As a teacher in the General Education department I am comfortable with a humanistic approach augmented with problem-solving strategies as suggested in the progressive orientation.

However, in the case of my hot issue, which focuses on the intercultural communication learning dimension, I would argue that a radical approach would be more suitable to examine, discuss, and challenge cultural discourses, assumptions, issues of 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 addressing the imbalances that are still part of our social and educational models.

4) Is there an alignment between your orientation and the orientations that are enacted in your workplace? Does this matter

At first I connected well with the humanistic-constructivist perspective at my workplace. Later, through my own self-reflections and from conversations with the director of General Education, I have become more aware of the corporate ‘hidden goals” and the “business as usual” power-oriented mentality that influence the academic environment.

Does this matter? Absolutely. At the very least, it makes the humanistic orientation in our teacher training sound phony; and at its worse, it makes the curriculum and relevant coursework look like the usual assembly line of traditional education, so beautifully described by Chappel et al (2002):

“Today, epistemological discourses emphasise knowledge constructed as practical, interdisciplinary, informal, applied and contextual over knowledge constructed as theoretical, disciplinary, formal, foundational and generalisable.” (Chappell et al, 2000, p. 2)

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. It also allows for broader, less academic discussion of issues that are important to many.

It achieves a more generalized level of active citizenship and participation across many generational, social, cultural and gender barriers.

It fosters personal responsibility for one’s own participation both in society and in one’s personal self-actualization.

FLIP: reflections as an adult learning practitioner

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

FORUM: Koala

TOPICS: reflections, adult learning, practice, workplace, context.

WEEK 8 – Task 1: reflections as an adult learning practitioner in your workplace/professional context.

Link to forum

Link to blog

Task 1
Begin by thinking back to the issues that came up last week in the discussion of this course. Then think about those issues in relation to the following questions:
•    Do you see connections with your own workplace?

As a teacher in my workplace, I do not have to deal with issues related to readings. However, other issues identified last week may be relevant.

  • A manageable amount of readings : n/
  • Less emphasis on group work: we end up having meetings that are, in my opinion, not very productive. As for group work as an instructional approach, I have the same reservations as I have for our ALGC courses. The majority of my students constantly complain about issues related to their group work (logistical difficulties; others’ lack of participation and commitment; unfair group evaluation; effects on final outcomes)
  • Relevance to personal capability envelop: it remains to be seen whether the activities we do as teachers are increasing our personal and professional goals. Institutional goals are prioritized. In my particular case, I try as best as I can to link both my classes and the meetings we have to my learning experience in the ALGC. This is a great opportunity for applying learning to practice. For example, many of the issues I am discussing as an ALGC student reflect my current practice in teaching critical thinking and group work dynamics.
  • Inclusion of Intercultural Communication components: This is the crux of my hot issue. It has been discussed at length in my first assignment report and in the discussion forums. In my current workplace, this issue is not adequately addressed.
  • Time-managed, task-oriented approach hopefully agreed upon by all: tasks are distributed from the top down, even when it seems there is a negotiated approach to task sharing. When it comes to organizing a large work group, my preference goes towards fairly well-structured activities, to avoid the kind of issues mentioned above under “Less emphasis on group work.” This is also the preferential corporate approach, embedded in the Northern, Anglo-Saxon work ethic.
  • Available technology assistance to participants: in this regard, the college where I work is very active in bringing teachers up to date on the technology available to them. Many teachers – however – have still issues with working with technology, and many others want to use the technology they are more familiar with, instead of using the streamlined platform that has been enforced on us by corporate management. This platform is actually pretty good and does provide with cutting-edge options for teaching design. Unfortunately it also penalizes those who already have their own platforms (web sites and other curricular frameworks) which would now need to be transferred into the main frame of the institutional platform.

•    Can you identify instances when people in your workplace approach tasks with different cultural understandings?

There are differences found among departments. I work in the General Education department, which employs a humanistic approach to education. In many cases, the emphasis may be on the process, rather than on the result. The meetings are a lot about processing dynamics and information; unfortunately, this affects the achievement of “practical goals” versus “developmental objectives,” even though the curricular structure appears to be evenly distributed among the building of behavioral, cognitive and affective learning goals.

Different approaches to teaching and learning are evident also among teachers of the same course. I believe there is a tendency to imprint our own background onto the curricular activities. Our identity seems to inform our teaching practice

•    How do you think these differently embedded cultural understandings might apply to fostering learning in practice in your workplace setting?

Tricky question. In most instances, we all have to abide by corporate guidelines. Issues of power are very present in my work environment. In reality, however, since I operate within a highly individualistic context that gives lip service to academic freedom, many teachers are still steering away from corporate “corralling” policies and pursue a more personal approach to their teaching practice.

FLIP: Similarities and differences in “good education”

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

FORUM: Koala 5

TOPICS: similarities and differences

WEEK 7 – TASK 2: Similarities and differences in “good education”

Link to blog

Share your ideas by (a) capturing one issue in 200-300 words using the following questions to prompt your selection AND (b) giving feedback on at least two people’s posting:

1) Similarities and differences that you see in your own and others’ representations around ‘good’ adult education?

I will summarize the differences and similarities found in the Koala group, and

add my comments. I will group them as follows:

Course requirements

Relevance to our Professional practice (educator)

Role of  English

Intercultural communication dimension

Our learning context / space


Course requirements:

Gursev and Kerrian talk about their difficulty in abiding by the words limit imposed for the written assignments. Jeanette also mentions having the feeling that she has forgotten all the readings.  Edouard talks about “heavy readings.”

Oscar shares Yolanda’s need for time efficiency and her task-oriented approach to work and learning.

Helga talks about the “being allocated to a group where other students don’t participate very much, or are on a different wave-length.”

Relevance to our Professional practice (educator):

Helga seems to be working full time in hers; I am working part-time, and Edouard is not currently working in education. Michiko, Oscar and Edouard recognize their marginality with respect to their respective educational professional practice. Michiko also talks about the “rubber band effect,” i.e the varying degree of proximity to the different subjects in the ALGC, and also mentions that she has “no background as a professional educator.”

Edouard talks about how other commitments may interfers with his participation.

Role of  English:

COMMENTS: There are varying levels of proficiency and comfort with regard to using English as our instructional language and main means of communication. I believe that such issue is understated, based on the assumption that proficiency is a requirement that was considered at the admission stage.

Helga is a native speaker; Oscar currently uses English as his first language but is aware of the implications related to being a non-native speaker; Edouard talks about ‘a lack of good command of english’.

Intercultural communication dimension:

We all see to share an approach embedded in multiple cultural experiences. We recognize the need for having intercultural communication embedded into our educational professional practice. Edouard advocates for closer examination of his country’s cultural assumptions.

Our learning context/space:

Helga talks about issues with the technology, others’ level of participation in group work, and “lack of response or lack of clear directions from some teachers.”

Oscar would add that – at least in this course – the amount of readings was fair and manageable. Issues with the technology side of Itslearning have been voiced by many.

SUMMARY

A version of “good education” that would collate the similarities found in our group would include:

  • A manageable amount of readings (Oscar, Gursev, Jeanette), “less is better”
  • Less emphasis on group work (Helga, Oscar)
  • Relevance to personal capability envelop (Michiko, Helga, Edouard, Oscar)
  • Inclusion of Intercultural Communication components (Helga, Gursev, Edouard, Oscar)
  • Time-managed, task-oriented approach hopefully agreed upon by all (Oscar, Yolanda, Helga)
  • Available technology assistance to participants (Helga, Edouard, Kerrian)

2) What you see as missing or hidden in the representations?

Intercultural dimension:

As I pointed out at different stages of the ALGC since we started the program, there is an understated representation of our cohort’s intercultural communication dimension. Aside from recognizing the cultural and geographic diversity embedded in our program, little is offered in ways to interpret and deal with the nuances emerging from such diversity. I believe there is the assumption that “things will sort themselves out.” This dimension also includes issues related to our language of instruction – as mentioned above – and the cultural assumptions embedded in the Anglo-Saxon approach to higher education.

Pedagogical assumptions:

Another hidden representation is the ALGC is the pedagogical assumptions on which it is based. We have been exposed to several approaches to teaching, learning and working and had opportunities for discussing relevant issues, but there has been no indication about the pedagogical parameters that inform the ALGC. In the readings I found several learning contexts that may apply to the ALGC, but they are at times contradicting. In the past, the instructional “strategies” adopted in some courses clashed dramatically against the academic content and ensuing discussions, which has affected my learning, and left me confused and at a loss.

3) An example (eg. an image) that shows how your cultural embeddedness shapes your view or expectations of adult education? Try to make this explicit in writing for your group.

I see myself as a bridge. This is a metaphor that has been used by others (e.g. Alexander Langer) and in other settings (the Mostar Bridge in Bosnia; the Europabruecke in Tyrol) to convey the idea of connectedness across differences.

Mostar bridge

Mostar bridge

FLIP: ASSIGNMENT # 1

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

ASSIGNMENT # 1
A hot issue in my workplace and its relationship to learning and identity

integral paper available at: O_VALLAZZA_Assignment1_FLIP.doc

Comments:

Yolanda pointed out that my paper includes my learning from other courses.. This is the way I see the ALGC. Didn’t we start with the capability envelop and our learning plan? A pivotal part of mine was/is the “making sense” of my life/professional/academic experiences, in an attempt to organize all that into a systemic whole. This course has been so far very helpful in that regard.  I try to stick to a systemic view, which implies making references across disciplines and contexts. My assignment 1 links some of my reflections to previous learning experiences, hopefully not to the detriment of the assignment’s specific requirements. Feedback from teachers will tell.

Next week’s tasks seem to offer a great opportunity for all of us to address our learning experience. I look fwd to the discussion.

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