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Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
Bozalek presentation
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Bozalek presentation

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This is my presentation at the Critical Care Conference at Brighton University 13-14 September 2012. It deals with sociocultural learning theories and their intersections with the political ethics of …

This is my presentation at the Critical Care Conference at Brighton University 13-14 September 2012. It deals with sociocultural learning theories and their intersections with the political ethics of care

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  • This paper attempts to make a start at identifying possible intersections between the political ethics of care and sociocultural learning theories and to make suggestions about how these two disparate fields of study could be augmented and expanded by incorporating aspects from each other’s concepts and ideas. The focus in this paper will be more directed on learning theories than the political ethics of care, as I anticipate that the audience will be more au fait with care ethics than learning theories.
  • Species activityActivity theoryIn 2008, I was seconded from being Chairperson of the Social Work Department at the University of the Western Cape to being Director of Teaching and Learning. I felt the need to immerse myself in theories of learning and ways in which these could be applicable to our current context in higher education. I thus decided to embark on a Postgraduate Diploma in Education focusing on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The course on learning theories gave a thorough introduction to the theories of Vygotsky (1978), a Russian psychologist who developed a Marxist theory of learning in the 1930s which only became known and popular in the West in the late 1960s and 1970s. His theory was further developed by one of his colleagues and disciples, Leont’ev and further expanded by YröEngeström into what became known as cultural historical activity theory (CHAT). I also became acquainted with current theories of learning, such as Connectivism (Siemens, 2005; Siemens & Tittenberger, 2009), which have emanated from the influence of what is called Web 2.0 or 3.0 technologies, making social learning possible.  What struck me in learning about these theories was the similarity of some of the tenets upon which they are built and the conceptions of human nature are to the political ethics of care. I became fascinated with the possibility of comparing these theories and seeing how they ‘talk to each other’ and what we could possibly learn from juxtaposing these ideas against each other.  In this paper, I will examine the ways in which social cultural and connectivist learning theories are similar to ideas put forward in critical and political ethics of care texts. I will propose ways in which both of these areas could be expanded through the cross-pollination of ideas.
  • Lev Vyogotsky challenged behaviourist notions of stimulus-response learning by proposing that learning is mediated through cultural tools such as language and signs. More importantly for the ethic of care, he proposed, through what he called his ‘general genetic law’ (Vygotsky, 1978) that learning happens first between people and then in the individual mind: This paragraph is highly significant for the political ethics of care, as it indicates that learning is relational and happens between what Vygotsky called a ‘more knowledgeable other’ and the learner, who is taken through the ‘zone of proximal development’ through the interaction with the more knowledgeable other.
  • For me, this is significant for the political ethic of care in that it is what Joanne Hardman(2009, personal communication), a South African expert on Vygotsky referred to as ‘responsive pedagogy’. Here, learning is happening between a more knowledgeable other and a learner – who perhaps from an ethics of care perspective can be seen as the care giver and the care receiver. The process of giving care or providing problem solving moves the recipient or care receiver from the position where they are to where they could potentially be. Conceiving of this as a responsive sort of pedagogy would bring in the moral element of responsiveness into learning, but it would also require attentiveness as the more knowledgeable other or caregiver would have to discover what the learner knows and what is needed to move the learner from point A to point B. (2009, personal communication) Reference to the more knowledgeable other also pertains to the political ethic of care’s moral element of competence in that it is a more knowledgeable other who may be a teacher or a peer, but who knows more in this area who can make learning happen, rather than someone who is on the same level or who knows less than the learner or care –receiver.  Another similarity between Vygotsky’s learning theory and that of the political ethic of care is the focus on practice – the ethics of care emanates from the practice of care between caregivers and receivers and Vygotsky’s theory very much describes the practice of learning between more knowledgeable others and learners. One thing we could think about in the technological age is whether a more knowledgeable other and a caregiver could be a machine or a text rather than a human being. Furthermore, both theories zoom in on the particular rather than the general or abstract – each learner/care receiver’s needs are intensely focused upon.
  • This first generation is represented by a triangular model of action, where Vygotsky challenged the stimulus response behaviourist view of the mind and introduced the concept of mediation, by which cultural artefacts as psychological tools such as language, diagrams, art for mastering mental processes (Daniels, 2008, Roth & Lee, 2007). This is known as the first generation of activity theory. Cultural artefacts can be art, music, language, computer tools, Web 2.0 tools etc. Central premise is that the person can accomplish more with assistance or through mediation than on their own. Learning is thus seen as dialogical (Hardman, 2008).
  • Whereas Vygotsky focused specifically on the subject, meditational tools or artefacts and the object/ motive leading to an outcome, second generation activity theory situates learning in a collective context (Hardman, 2008). The second generation was seen to have emanated from Leont’ev, Vygotsky’s student and follower, who distinguished between activity, action and operations. An individual or group engage in an action to accomplish a goal, an activity is undertaken by a community which uses a division of labour for collective activity which is directed to both transforming an object into an outcome and a motive (Roth & Lee, 2007). An operation on the other hand is a behaviour which has become habituated through constant repetition Leont’ev (1978:66) gives the example driving a car where the changing of gears becomes an habituated action. YröEngeström (1987; 2001), a Finnish scholar, used Leont’ev’s ideas to develop a diagram which depicts a model of an activity system, the dynamics of which are influenced by Marxist notions of contradictions (structural tensions) causing tensions and conflicts between the different elements or nodes in the system and leading to transformation if they are brought to into consciousness (Daniels, 2008; Roth & Lee, 2007). This second generation of CHAT is depicted in Figure 2 below:  
  • The second generation was seen to have emanated from Leont’ev, Vygotsky’s student and follower, who distinguished between activity, action and operations. Situates learning in a collective context (Hardman, 2008). Here the subject acts on the object by using mediational artefact to arrive at specific outcomes. . The subject is also impacted on by rules of instituion, policy, profession etc. the cimmunity and the division of labour.An individual or group engage in an action to accomplish a goal, an activity is undertaken by a community which uses a division of labour for collective activity which is directed to both transforming an object into an outcome and a motive (Roth & Lee, 2007). An operation on the other hand is a behaviour which has become habituated through constant repetition Leont’ev (1978:66) gives the example driving a car where the changing of gears becomes an habituated action. YrioEngeström (1987), a Finnish scholar, used Leont’ev’s ideas to develop a diagram which depicts a model of an activity system, the dynamics of which are influenced by Marxist notions of contradictions (structural tensions) causing tensions and conflicts between the different elements or nodes in the system and leading to transformation if they are brought to into consciousness (Daniels, 2008; Roth & Lee, 2007). This second generation of CHAT is depicted in Figure 2 below:The top triangle is the Vygotsky triangle. Rules community division of labour are what he has addedActivity theory posits that learning emerges from activity (perfomance) rather than as a precursor to it (Jonassen & Rohrer-Murphy,1999). Activity cannot be understood or analyzed outside the context in which it occurs. So when analyzing human activity, we must examine not only the kinds of activities that people engage in but also who is engaging in that activity, what their goals and intentions are, what objects or products result from the activity, the rules and norms that circumscribe that activity, and the larger community in which the activity occurs. Jonassen, D.H. & Rohrer-Murphy, L. (1999:62). In second generational activity theory the subject acts on the object through meditational tools to achieve an outcome, but the subject is also impacted on by rules of institution, policy, profession etc. the community and the division of labour. In the political ethic of care, the context or situated nature of care is also important as is the division of labour, which in both CHAT and the political ethics of care involves power relations, tasks and responsibilities.. ‘Community’ is also important in a political ethic of care and the concept has received a mixed response from feminist care ethicists depending on how it is construed (see Barnes, 2012 and Kittay, 2001). In second generation CHAT, community is regarded as those groups of individuals who are participating in acting on the object. Rules comprise of the norms or conventions which drive the object. (Hardman, 2008). These norms and conventions are often deconstructed in ethics of care analyses of policy documents etc (see for example Sevenhuisjen’s, 2003c, Trace analysis).Subject – individual or group who you choose to analyse (for our research it was the individual lecturers who answered the survey)Object – problem space the mental or physical product (where activity is shaped into outcomes producing goals/solutions) the intention of lecturer. ‘The object is acted on by the subject. It represents the intention that motivates the activity’ (Jonassen & Rohrer-Murphy, 1999:63) .Different meanings have been attributed to the term activity – that which is to be realised or the object of desire. Tools – any means by which to transform the object. Tools alter and are altered by the activity (Jonassen & Rohrer-Murphy, 1999:63) .Community consist of an interdependent group of people who share social meanings in relation to the objectDivision of labour – task specialisation within the community – who does what and who determines what is meaningful?Rules inherently guide the activityActivity theory sees activity as a precursor to learning (Jonassen & Rohrer-Murphy, 1999:64) . Learning and doing are seen as inseparable.
  • Subject – individual or group who you choose to analyse (for our research it was the individual lecturers who answered the survey)Object – problem space the mental or physical product (where activity is shaped into outcomes producing goals/solutions) the intention of lecturer. ‘The object is acted on by the subject. It represents the intention that motivates the activity’ (Jonassen & Rohrer-Murphy, 1999:63) .Different meanings have been attributed to the term activity – that which is to be realised or the object of desire. Tools – any means by which to transform the object. Tools alter and are altered by the activity (Jonassen & Rohrer-Murphy, 1999:63) .Community consist of an interdependent group of people who share social meanings in relation to the objectDivision of labour – task specialisation within the community – who does what and who determines what is meaningful?Rules inherently guide the activityActivity theory sees activity as a precursor to learning (Jonassen & Rohrer-Murphy, 1999:64) . Learning and doing are seen as inseparable.
  • But what does second generation CHAT have to offer the political ethics of care? Perhaps this could be best illustrated through a concrete example of the application to the practice of care. If we see the subject as the caregiver/s or receiver (whichever group are involved in the activity which is being analysed), the object which is the focus or purpose of care at which the caring activity is directed and which is acted on by the subjects towards achieving a particular goal or outcome (human flourishing/ human well-being), with the help of tools or instruments (culturally specific tools or artefacts used in the caring process), which are influenced by norms and conventions, other groups of people acting on the problem and by power relations, one can have a rich picture of the practice of care. In the second generation CHAT contradictions or structural tensions may occur between any of the different axes – between the subject and object when the meditational tool is inappropriate, for example. These contradictions, like the Foucauldian notion of power, are not to be seen in an entirely negative light but as the driving force for change and development (Engeström, 2001).
  • Moving onto the most recent learning theory, made famous by George Siemens, connectivism also has much in common with the political ethics of care. Connectivism specifically relates to the increasing use of technology to facilitate social communication and technology and learning is the process of connecting, growing, and navigating those networks (Siemens, 2005). Siemens & Tittenberger (2009:11) define connectivism in the following way ‘the view that knowledge and cognition are distributed across networks of people’. Importantly for the political ethic of care, Siemens (2005) regards one of the principles of connectivism to be the importance of ‘nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning’. The political ethic of care is founded on the premise of nurturing relationships and sustaining or maintaining connections for the integrity of care.  From the perspective of connectivism, learning may or may not be located in the human brain, but rather happens through knowledge rich environments and networks and is stored in technology (Siemens, 2005). Joan Tronto and Berenice Fisher (1990) refer to a complex and life-sustaining web rather than a network in their definition of care:a species activity that includes everything that we do to maintain, continue, and repair our 'world' so that we can live in it as well as possible. That world includes our bodies, our selves, and our environment, all of which we seek to interweave in a complex, life-sustaining web. (Fisher and Tronto 1990: 40)
  • One may wonder whether care could be offered in artefacts or through machines rather than resting solely with humans and whether the nodes on social networks may offer possibilities for people to connect to caring others. Connectivism also values diverse opinions and believes that the capacity to know is more important than what is currently known. Decision-making in connectivism is crucial for discerning what is useful to learn and what sense one can make of a plethora of ideas. In the political ethic of care, sense-making, dialogical deliberations about what is best for the caring process. Using learning analytics, where information resides in computers and databases to make good decisions about what people need according to their profiles may be useful on a macro level, but if it falls into uncaring hands may also be a means of controlling and regulating populations of caregivers and receivers. Technology has also made it possible for learners to develop personal learning environments, where they can amass whatever nodes and connections they find personally useful for their own learning. The political ethic of care which emphasises the particular rather than the general and pays close attention to each person’s needs, resonates with these abilities offered by personal learning environments to learners.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Connections between sociocultural learning theories and the political ethic of care Vivienne Bozalek University of the Western Cape vbozalek@uwc.ac.za
    • 2. Overview of presentationPhilosophical rootsBackground to paperVygotskyLeont’ev and EngestromConnectivism
    • 3. The Political Ethics of Care Tronto and Sevenhuijsen
    • 4. Similar political and philosophical roots http://www.flickr.com/photos/42311564@N00/2924518437/sizes/o/in/photostream/
    • 5. Relationality - Lev Vygotsky Every function in the childs cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological), and then inside the child (intrapsychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, and to the formulation of concepts. All the higher functions originate as actual relations between human individuals (Vygotsky, 1978:57)
    • 6. Zone of Proximal Development Vygotsky http://www.flickr.com/photos/josemota/“… the distance between the actual developmental level asdetermined by independent problem solving and the level of potentialdevelopment as determined through problem solving under adultguidance or in collaboration with more capable peers… the actualdevelopmental level characterises mental developmentretrospectively, while the zone of proximal development characterisesmental development prospectively.” (Vygotsky, 1978:86-87)
    • 7. First generation Activity Theory Lev Vygotsky (1978) Mediational Means (Tools) (machines, writing, speaking, gesture, architecture, music, etc)Subject(s) Object/Motive -->Outcome(s)(individual, dyad, group)
    • 8. Leont’ev and Engestrommarxists.org edu.helsinki.fi
    • 9. Second generation activity theory – Leontiev (1978) & Engeström (1987) Mediating artefacts Object Subject OutcomeRules Community Division of labor
    • 10. Explanation of conceptsSubject – individual or group who are involved in theactivity or who you choose to analyseObject – focus/purpose/problem space at which theactivity is directed (acted on and transformed bysubject) and which is moulded into outcomes with thehelp ofInstruments – the mediational means (culture-specificor technological tools, models etc)Community – group of individuals who participate onacting on the shared objectDivision of labour – tasks, responsibilities and powerrelationsRules - norms, conventions which drive activity
    • 11. Thanks to Veronica Mitchell for this slide http://www.flickr.com/photos/hikingartist/5726834773/sizes/s/in/photostream Tools for caregiving – conversations, practices, Websites, blogs, wikis, support groups etc Relationships & Service user connections Human flourishing Division of Norms labour – whoaffecting the is doing what caring n the care Community – who is contributing to process process human flourishing?
    • 12. Connectivism George SiemensDistributed knowledgeNetworks of peopleNurturing and maintainingconnections to facilitatelearning http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_downes
    • 13. Second Life – 3D immersive environment
    • 14. ReferencesEngeström, Y. (1987).Learning by Expanding: an activity-theoretical approach todevelopmental research.Helsinki:Orienta-Konsultit.Hardman, J. (2008). Researching pedagogy: Activity Theory Approach. Journal of Education,45:1-30.Siemens, G. (2005) ‘Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.www.connectivism.ca (accessed 21 August 2012)Siemens, G., &Tittenberger, P. (2009). Handbook of Emerging Technology for Learning.University of Manitoba. Available at http://elearnspace.org/Articles/HETL.pdf (accessed 21August 2012)Tronto J. (1993) Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care.. New York &London: Routledge.Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. M.Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, E. 2Souberman (Eds.) Cambridge, MA: Harvard UniversityPress.

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