Saturday, October 30, 2010

Situating learning in communities of practice - Lave 1991

Lave, J. (1991). Situating learning in communities of practice. In L. Resnick, J. Levine, and S. Teasley (Eds.), Perspectives on socially shared cognition (pages 63-82). Washington, DC: APA.

Key ideas:
p63. Lave views learning as an emerging property of whole persons' legitimate peripheral participation in communities of practice.

p64. Learning is recognized as
+ a social phenomenon constituted in the experienced, lived-in world , through legitimate peripheral participation in ongoing social practice;
+ the process of changing knowledgeable skill is subsumed in processes of changing identity in and through membership in a community of practitioners;
+ and mastery is an organizational, relational characteristic of communities of practice

p65. Lave asks us to consider learning not as a process of socially shared cognition that results in the end in the internalization of knowledge by individuals, but as a process of becoming a member of a sustained community of practice. Developing an identity as a member of a community and becoming knowledgeably skillful are part of the same process, with the former motivating, shaping, and giving meaning to the latter. which it subsumes.

Theories of Situated Experience
Three genres of simulative approaches
1. Cognition plus - cognitive theory that takes into account people, process, relationships, etc., in a social world
2. Interpretive view - Interpretivists argue that we live in a pluralistic world composed
of individuals who have unique experiences and perspectives; the use of language and social interactions contribute to situativeness
3. Situative social practice – Lave’s POV: This theoretical view emphasizes the relational interdependency of agent and world, activity, meaning, cognition, learning, and knowing. It
emphasizes the inherently socially negotiated quality of meaning and the interested, concerned character of the thought and action of persons engaged in activity. But unlike the first two approaches, this view also claims that learning, thinking, and knowing are relations among people engaged in activity in with, and arising from the socially and culturally structured world. This world is itself socially constituted. This third position situates learning in social practice in the lived-in world; the problem is to translate this view in to a specific analytic approach to learning.

Learning as Legitimate Peripheral Participation
Legitimate peripheral participation offers a two-way bridge between the development of knowledgeable skill and identity, the production of persons and the production and reproduction of communities of practice.

Newcomers become old-timers through a social process of increasingly centripetal participation, which depends on legitimate access to ongoing community practice. Newcomers develop a changing understanding of practice over time from improvised opportunities to participate peripherally in ongoing activities of the community. Knowledgeable skill is encompassed in the process of assuming an identity as a practitioner, of becoming a full participant, an old timer. p68

Example 1: Yucatan Mayan Midwifery
Girls/women learn to become midwives through apprenticeship. p70
Broad exposure to ongoing practice, such as that described for the midwives' apprentices is in effect a demonstration of the goal toward which newcomers expect, and are expected, to move. The other is the notion that knowledge and skill develop in the process - and as an integral part of the process - of becoming like master practitioners within a community of practice. p71

Example 2: Alcoholics Anonymous
Cain argues that the main business of AA is the reconstruction of identity, through the process of construction of these life stories, and with them, the meaning of the teller's past and future action in the world. p73

Communities of Practice and Processes of Learning
Participation as members of a community of practice shapes newcomers' identities and in the process gives structure and meaning to knowledgeable skill. p74

The process of becoming a full practitioner in a community of practice involves two kinds of production: the production of continuity with, and the displacement of, the practice of old-timers (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Newcomers and old timers are dependent on each other: - newcomers in order to learn, and old-timers in order to carry on the community of practice. At the same time, the success of both new and old members depends on the eventual replacement of old-timers by newcomers-become-old-timers themselves. The tensions this introduces into processes of learning are fundamental. p74

Apprentice forms of learning occur in graduate programs in universities and in the practice of medicine, law and the arts.

Lave argues that learning occurs under just the circumstances where the fashioning of identity and the gradual mastery of knowledgeable skill are part of an integral process of participation. p77

+ What learning curriculum is afforded by the legitimate participation that makes it possible for newcomers to become old-timers in a given setting?
+ What are the characteristics of communities of practice that make broad accessibility to the whole steadily available to newcomers?
+ What are the conditions that make deep transformations possible?

+ The main part of the chapter explored ways in which communities of practice and cultural processes of identity construction shape each other. p80
+ Lave recommends a conception of learning as  “legitimate peripheral participation in communities of practice” p81

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