Initiating practitioner research into self-organising learning


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Paper co-presented with Marieke van Roy to the 16th annual conference of the education, learning, styles, individual differences network (ELSIN) conference, University of Antwerp, Belgium, 29 June to 1 July 2011.

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Initiating practitioner research into self-organising learning

  1. 1. 1<br />Practitioner research into self-organising learning<br />Identifying conditions for learning that needs no external authority<br />Presentation to the ELSIN conference. <br />University of Antwerp (Belgium), 1 July 2011<br />Ernst D. Thoutenhoofd & Marieke van Roy<br />This slideshow is publicly available at<br />
  2. 2. I love to learn but I hate to be taught | Churchill<br />
  3. 3. If children have interest, education takes place| Arthur C. Clarke<br />
  4. 4. Educational freedom is not about the absence of authority but about authority that carries an orientation towards freedom with it..<br />| Gert Biesta<br />
  5. 5. 5<br />We live in a sociotechnical world.<br />Cf. Wiebe Bijker (1995) Of bicyles, bakelites and bulbs, MIT.<br />
  6. 6. 6<br />Our action research project aims at self-organisation as attributes of learning to learn activities.<br />
  7. 7. 7<br />Learning to learn is a term we use for those phenomena (including classroom activities) that aim at collective shaping of the process of acquiring competence.<br />
  8. 8. 8<br />Self-organisation is a term we use for (autopoietic) message-systems that are autonomous, operationally closed and based on non-intentional principles of sociality. <br />It presents a postsocial metaphysics to explain learning in contemporary contexts.<br />This perspective derives from Bruno Latour’s actor network theory and Niklas Luhmann’s social systems theory.<br />
  9. 9. 9<br />Central is the theoretical question to what extent learning can persist as socially structured activity that needs no particular external authority—such as national curriculum or formal patterns of schooling.<br />This perspective derives from liberal education insights into the future of education, cf. Gert Biesta’s Beyond learning (2006) and Aharon Aviram’s Navigating through the storm (2011). <br />
  10. 10. 10<br />Curriculum, school and formal teaching are intervening variables in a process of lifelong learning that is itself a self-organising principle of modern-day life.<br />
  11. 11. 11<br />On the next two slides are references to two examples of self-organising education, located on Youtube:<br />Sign language emergence among deaf learners in Nicaragua (1980s)<br />Hole in the wall experiments for rural/poor children’s education (1990s)<br />
  12. 12.<br />View the case of Nicaraguan Sign Language<br />Prof. Judy Kegl<br />
  13. 13.<br />View the hole in the wall experiments<br />Prof. Sugatra Mitra<br />
  14. 14. 14<br />On the next slide is an example of self-organising learning taken from our interview-data, collected in January 2011 among UK teachers participating in the national ‘Learning to Learn’ initiative hosted at the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CfLaT), University of Newcastle upon Tyne.<br />The quote is by a 6th form History teacher who introduced learning to learn approaches to his pupils.<br />
  15. 15. I was able just to stand there, literally in the middle, and look at them, and listen to them, and know that I didn’t have to do anything. It was all self-starting, I just stood there and the machine rolled through its process. <br />It gave me massive freedom, while giving them a big sense of freedom as well. (Hugh)<br />Learning to Learn initiative<br />CfLaT, University of Newcastle upon Tyne<br />
  16. 16. 16<br />In our own project, 8 teachers in four schools around the university will voluntarily start introducing learning to learn approaches into their professional environment. They are from:<br />1. An SEN school for learning-disabled children (aged 4-20)<br />2. A community of primary and secondary schools<br />3. A community of professional education colleges<br />4. A regional network of 35 primary schools<br />
  17. 17. 17<br />The teachers involved are conservative about learning to learn findings, but welcoming of practitioner research aimed at making learning skills explicit in their teaching.<br />
  18. 18. 18<br />In summary, learning to learn is defined concretely as instruments and techniques aimed at collectively shaping the learning process.<br />British findings suggest that learning to learn includes initialling conditions for more autonomous learning.<br />We hypothesise such findings connect learning to learn to self-organisation.<br />Teachers who volunteered for research in this area are conservative about learning to learn findings, but supportive of its goals.<br />
  19. 19. 19<br />EndFurther reading on the next slide.<br />
  20. 20. 20<br />Further reading<br />Aviram, Aharon (2011) Navigating through the storm: Reinventing education for postmodern democracies. Sense Publishers.<br />Biesta, Gert (2008) Beyond learning: Democratic education for a human future. Paradigm Publishers. <br />Bijker, Wiebe (1995) Of bicyles, bakelites and bulbs. MIT Press<br />Dangwal, Ritu (2009) Learning through teaching: Peer-mediated instruction in minimally invasive education. British Journal of Educational Technology 40(1)5-22.<br />Kegl, Judy and Ann Senghas (2001) Creation through contact: Sign language emergence and sign language change in Nicaragua, in DeGraff, Michel (ed.) Language creation and language change: Creolization, diachrony and development. MIT Press.<br />Latour, Bruno (2006) Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network theory. Oxford University Press.<br />Luhmann, Niklas (1996) Social systems. Standford University Press.<br />Mitra, Sugata (2001) Children and the internet: Experiments with minimally invasive education in India. British Journal of Educational Technology 32(2)221-232.<br />