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Huda Khan

Assignment 14

Questions in Relationship to Participation in a Community of Learners
source: Rogoff, B., Matsuov, E., & White, C. (1998) 'Models of Teaching and Learning: Participation in a Community of Learners.' In D. R. Olsen & N. Torrance (Eds.), The Handbook of Education and Human Development – New Models of Learning, Teaching and Schooling, Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 388-414

Briefly discuss the following issues:

1. what did you find

1.1. interesting about the article?

I found the description of the community of learners instruction methods and the comparison of this description with the adult- and child-run methods of instruction very interesting.
I also found interesting how many newcomers tend to have difficulty understanding the "community of learners" method and instead, try to view this new paradigm in terms of the two extremes with which they are familiar: adult-run and child-run learning.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

2. what do you consider the main message of the article?

The majority of education in American public schools, due to social and political factors and in large part due to the "factory" method of education popularized and implemented in the educational and administrative institutions in this country, has centered on the "adult-run" method where adults impart information to students and students passively engage in doing as they are told without reflecting on the learning process or their own needs and motivations. One reaction to these adult-run methods has been "children-run" learning methods where adults are seen as possible obstacles in way of what the children can learn on their own through exploration of their own interests. Both of these methods view learning as a one-sided process where information flow or activity flows out of one source passively to the other.

The "community of learners" method is a completely different paradigm that does not view learning as a one-sided activity but rather as a process through which learners participate in the community and transform and learn through this process.

Within this community, the roles of learner and teacher are not rigid and fixed, but facilitators act as guides who help the children recognize their own sources of motivation, need for management and improvement, learning strengths and weaknesses, and help them achieve learning goals which are personally meaningful to the students and important for their academic and intellectual progress. Teachers and students are constantly engaging in setting up the curriculum and the flexibility of roles and interaction allows students to develop their own love of learning and form their own incentives for improvement and progress.

Finally, newcomers to this process, whether teachers or "co-opers" who help with the teaching and learning process of their children, also best learn this new paradigm through direct participation in this community, exemplifying how the "community of learners" paradigm applies to both children and adults.

3. analyze your own educational experience and

3.1. provide a rough estimate in percentage points for each category

3.2. one example for each category (in case you have encountered all three approaches)

a) Adult-Run

A great majority of my formal educational experience within class has been adult-run, with some affordances for group work through lab or group projects.

Percentage: 70% (of all formal educational work)

Example: Many of my classes have been where I have been told to take notes, learn material, take tests, etc. where the teachers did not emphasize why we had to learn the material or how that might relate to our personal interests.

b) Child-Run

I cannot think of any part of my educational experience which would be completely "children-run".
Percentage: 0% (As far as I can remember)

c) Community of learners:


As a child, my parents encouraged me to follow my own interests and improve myself, and in some of these areas, learning would occur through a process of collaboration with my parents. We would discuss various issues of interest to me, and then my parents would act as facilitators or guides to direct me to interesting references or methods or techniques whereby I could improve my own critical thinking skills or find motivation. This is similar to the "community of learners" practice.

Currently, with graduate work, my learning experience is closer to that of the community of learners, in that a great amount of my learning comes through collaboration with peers and my research direction is facilitated and guided by my professor(s) or advisors through a process of recognizing my own areas of interest.

Percentage: 20% (of learning related to or useful within an "academic setting", a greater percentage if applied to everything I know today).

(I'm leaving 10% out because there might be group projects or other educational experiences for which I have not accounted. )

4. which technologies are used / can be used /should be used to support

4.1. adult-run education

Lecture slides, overheads, scantrons. Course websites that offer information on the syllabus, what is to be covered when, administrative procedures.

4.2. child-run education

The world wide web and any other search facility that allows students, unaided or unguided, to explore topics or threads of interest to them. Things that are ok to break or don't require extensive manuals or are not too expensive (exploration can occur in a variety of different ways).

4.3. community of learners education

Collaborative interactive technology that allows for a common repository or base of ideas to be evolved, and changed by different members of the group. So, for example, the teacher can place the recommended lesson plan online in the teacher's web space, class members can then debate various areas of interest and place their observations online as well, the teacher and students can then collaboratively modify the lesson plan. Online forums, the Swiki.

5. analyze our course from the three dimensions:

5.1. adult-run education

Our professor assigns the readings, lectures, and proposes the general areas of research for the two semester projects. Issues covered in class are generally pre-determined by the professor.

5.2. child-run education

In class, we ("children") can find opportunities to ask questions or discuss issues of personal relevance or interest to us. Still, it is not completely child-run as there is still facilitation and guidance present in the form of the professor steering the discussion towards specific topics.

5.3. community of learners education

Through the course of discussions in-class and our participation on the swiki, the professor and the students both start to modify their thinking regarding the curriculum and issues discussed in the readings and in class. In-class discussions are not very rigid, allowing for debate and the discussion of aspects of the readings and material that are personally meaningful to the students. Furthermore, a certain amount of collaboration between students also exists, both within and outside class, so that we are encouraged to develop an understanding of what it is that we are learning and why and how that is important to us.

Our projects allow us to explore areas of interest while being guided by the professor to discover where we can improve ourselves or what resources we can used.

6. which possibilities do you see to effectively integrate adult- and child-run education?

The question in itself is interesting since these two methods seem to be, by definition, on opposite ends of the spectrum. The article mentions "piecemeal" integration but the value of that is debatable. One method is to incorporate time for children to explore pre-set areas of inquiry and then report back to the teacher who can then assign further work depending on the lesson plan goals that remain to be met. This method is still "piecemeal".

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