Bildung & educational language: speaking of "the self" AERA 2013

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Over the past century or more, the language associated with education and pedagogy has changed considerably. I sketch out an overview of these changes, focusing on the field of educational psychology, and beginning with the work of Dewey on the one hand, and Behaviourism on the other. I include the vocabulary of the ‘Learning Sciences’ which sees itself as being centrally informed by the neurosciences.
I focus on the notion of ‘the self’ in educational psychology. The term Bildung is central to this psychology, particularly as it is articulated in Dewey’s early textbook titled simply “psychology.” Bildung has been variously translated as edification, formation or growth...

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Bildung & educational language: speaking of "the self" AERA 2013

  1. 1. Bildung & EducationalLanguageSPEAKING OF ‘THE SELF’ IN ANGLO-AMERICAN EDUCATIONnorm friesen, AERA 2013
  2. 2. Dewey & the PsychologicalMainstream“education, therefore, is a process of living and not apreparation for future living.” -John Dewey, 1897“education and other forms of human control” areexercised through “fundamental laws of change” –EdwardThorndike, 1914
  3. 3. Dewey: Psychology (1887)The self which is the object of intuition is not anobject existing ready made, and needing only to haveconsciousness turned to it, as towards other objects, tobe known like them as a separate object... The self is[instead] a connecting, relating activity, and hence is areal unity, one which unites into a whole all the variouselements and members of our knowledge. (Dewey 1887:210)
  4. 4. Self-Activity- School & Societythe instinctive, impulsive attitudes andactivities of the child … [the] numberlessspontaneous activities of children, plays,games, mimic efforts, even the apparentlymeaningless motions of infants… are thefoundation-stones of educational method.(112)
  5. 5. Thorndike: Animal IntelligenceIn the case of the so-called action-consciousnessthe neglect of the connections becomes preposterous.The adventitious scraps of consciousness called willingwhich may intervene between a situation productive of agiven act and the act itself are hopelessly uninstructive incomparison with the bonds of instinct and habit whichcause the situation to produce the act. (1911: 18)
  6. 6. Albert Bandura: Self InfluencesEffective intellectual functioning requires muchmore than simply understanding the factual knowledgeand reasoning operations for given activities.... Theimpact of most environmental influences on humanmotivation, affect, and action is heavily mediatedthrough self processes. They give meaning and valenceto external events. Self influences thus operate asimportant proximal determinants at the very heart ofcausal processes. (1992: 117-118)
  7. 7. Bandura: Self Efficacy and AgencyPeople make causal contributions to their ownfunctioning through mechanisms of personalagency. Among the mechanisms of agency, noneis more central or pervasive than peoples beliefsabout their capabilities to exercise control overtheir own level of functioning and over events thataffect their lives. (118)
  8. 8. Self-ExplanationWe find that ‘Good’ students learn withunderstanding: They generate many explanations…[and] these self-explanations are guided byaccurate monitoring of their own understandingand misunderstanding. Such learning results inexample-independent knowledge and in a betterunderstanding. (Chi et al 1989: 145)
  9. 9. Idea Statements Protocol linesRead line 6: Fa, Fb, and Fe are all the forces acting on the body. (pause)I.. Monitoring: 1) Okay.Read line 7. Since the ... (pause)Experimenter: (Okay. what are you thinking about?)II.. Monitoring: 2) Im trying to think where Forces Fb and Fa3) are going to get the thing.III.. Explanation: 4) Theyd just be the force, the rest mass of5) the thing holding it up would be the force.6) It could, well, actually it’d be the force of weight.
  10. 10. Klaus MollenhauerIn a pedagogical context, self-activity does not simply referto an activity of one form or another; nor is it a natural biologicalphenomenon or some kind of random action; for self-activity isan activity that brings into play potential powers that areactivated not by ‘spontaneous generation’ but rather by‘encouragement’ via social interaction. Hence in a pedagogiccontext, the teacher or parent’s responsibility is to nurture andcall forth these potential powers... The skills and abilities thusacquired or ‘appropriated’ then become the drivers ofpersonalization, i.e. the productive forces that pave the way forthe child to be brought up. (1983: 141)
  11. 11. Mollenhauer: example of Didier– ‘Teacher: How many fingers doyou have?– Didier: Just a sec. Hmmm... one,two three four. Four.– And how many do I have?– (Didier counts) Five– Does everyone have the samenumber of fingers?– Yup.– So how many fingers doesCharles have?– Five.– And you?– I just told you.– But how many was that?– Oh come on, four!– But I have five, right?– Yeah, but I’ve still got fewer.’
  12. 12. Mollenhauer: example of DidierDidier has since made some progress – in facthe’s made quite a bit of progress. He’s completelydifferent from the way he was in September. He’smuch less scattered and has totally stopped beingsuch a tame and unadventurous kid. He’s becomelively and even a bit mischievous, and has learnedhow to stand up for himself.
  13. 13. ReferencesBandura, A. (1993) ‘Perceived Self-Efficacy in Cognitive Development and Functioning’,Educational Psychologist, 28:117-148.Martin, J. (2004) ‘The educational inadequacy of conceptions of self in educationalpsychology’, Interchange 35: 185-208.Mollenhauer, K. (forthcoming, 2013). Forgotten Connections: on Culture andUpbringing. London: Routledge. Edited and translated by N. Friesen.(Original: Vergessene Zusammenhänge: Über Kultur und Erziehung.)See: http://www.culture-and-upbringing.comThorndike, E.L. (1910) ‘The contribution of psychology to education’, The Journal ofEducational Psychology 1: 5-12.Thorndike, E.L. (1912) Education: A first book, New York: MacMillan.

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