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I was walking with Clare and I have forgotten what she said. But my reply was: “Perhaps we should ask the question differently?”
“How”, she asked very directly.
“Perhaps….an efficient way of learning?”, I tried carefully.
We were entering the elevator now and her silence was noticeable. She did not like my suggestion at all.
“Perhaps not”, I said.
“Big philosophical questions”, was her final replay as we entered the classroom. Her way of telling that the conversation was over.  

The Good
I did actually take me a little while to figure out what Prawat (1996) was up to in his explanations, regarding different views on constructivist learning. But when I figured it out a few years ago, his diagrams has never really left the back of my mind again. So, after my fatal encounter with Clare, the other day, I looked at her posting about Entrepreneurial Learning, the idea of a Community of Learners, and the two questions I had left open in my last posting here.

And I think it all comes together in the diagrams below. The one below, is the community/entrepreneurial model, where ideas are the carrying media between the world outside the learning community and the big world outside. Please don’t interpret this as if the the model is based on ideas. It is not. The ideas are coming and going, evolving, developing and disappearing again. The community stands – with evolving content – but the same basic democratic values. The more I read good old John Dewey  (1909; 1902), I think I can date most of those values back to him. And he has picked them up from sources way, way back.

The really good thing about Dewey’s approach, is that you with one definition take away the difference between knowing and doing – thinking and action.

If you are not too inclined to complicated epistemological discussions – just have a look at it – apply a few examples. And I don’t think you will be disappointed. And if you would like a copy of Prawat’s paper – I can flick you an example.  

Screenshot from 2014-09-04 10:34:42

The Bad
Purpose as a synthetic construction in educational environments. This is what I initially called it. So I will keep it like this. Prawat (1996) describes it as if you wrap the ‘real’ world into a socially relevant activity, such as a school and produce objects and events out of that.

This is the typical postmodern Vygotsky interpretation. Very much present in ‘project work’ in progressive education. Not a bad idea, really. But look lets at the model first – and then look at our own experiences with ‘project oriented school work’ afterwards.

Who is creating the bubble called ‘Culturally Relevant Activity’ and who decides the relevance? I would say that it would be the institution, the teacher or the ‘system’ – or we could perhaps just call it ‘the necessity of some activity in the education’.

If you look back at the projects you have been doing at school in your lifetime. Or if you are a teacher – the projects work you have forced your students to do. Why did you do it?

Screenshot from 2014-09-04 10:33:23

The Ugly
The superficial symbolism in educational environments. I have called this one the ugly. Maybe because I think this is an ugly recent development to solve the relevance problem. Individual learning combined with socially shared activities. Or maybe just because it is the one I personally dislike the most.

The basic social activity, tools and rules are more or less predefined. In a school it would be symbolic things, such as your learning log, your personal learning plan, the stand up meetings or the Kanban board. There is nothing wrong with these things. I have carefully chosen some that I really like. I could also have chosen a holy book or a political point of view. And things would have looked slightly loaded.

To me the pitfall is, that you end up in combination of an individual worldview and a learning culture tied up to symbolic conventions. If you rigidly insist on this position.     

Screenshot from 2014-09-04 10:33:45

Dewey, J. (1909). Moral Principles in Education. New York: The Riverside Press. Retrieved from

Dewey, J. (1902). The Child and the Curriculum. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Retrieved from

Prawat, R. S. (1996). Constructivisms, modern and postmodern. Educational Psychologist, 31(3/4), 215-225.