A Social View of Learning

raised-hands-1471189549xg5Where the learning is taking place is important; in a class, at home, online, formal setting, informally etc.
Recently many have been quoting findings showing that around 70% of an individual’s education occurs out of formal education. Brown mentions that learning occurs as an apprentice from activity and social interaction i.e. learning from the situation rat
er than an out of context environment (e.g. classroom).  Brown sees learning as taking place at an individual level; learning as an individual (apprentice) learning from a ‘master’ of skill. Engeström sees learning as collective learning amongst individuals in a real world situation. 

It is important that we view learning from a participatory role that the individual learner has in the community. His or her role as an apprentice or in a network of activity system is an important mode of learning. Through the social theory of learning, the ‘student’ is developing his own knowledge through social interaction. On the other hand I think that one should not give unconditional importance to learning being staged solely on a social level,  at the detriment of the learner’s own involvement as an individual being who has his own needs of self actualisation and transcendence (top two levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).

Learning and development cannot really happen in a vacuum. One needs to take into consideration the context in which these are happening. The context will imply to the individual conventions that need to be taken, even unconsciously, into contemplation when interacting with the surrounding environment.Taking into consideration the ‘online world’, the ‘user’ tends to collect knowledge whilst browsing and experimenting with different tools. Interaction with content and with others is continuous.

When discussing learning, it is important to take into consideration the level of maturity of students.  Engestrom does not emphasise the need for a ‘moderator’ in the learning phases. Such a moderator can help learning participants to not deviate from aim and build on their findings/results. The need of a moderator is crucial in participatory learning.

As an educator, reflection on my practice has to be innate. My perspectives on various issues define who I am as an educator; what mindset I have, how it effects my delivery and thus what learning actually means for me. As an educator I believe that learning cannot be done in isolation. Learning alone without cooperation is counter productive. Learning specific academic subjects, in isolation from each other may be dangerous. Learning from an expert reduces interaction; reduces development of critical analytic thinking. Today’s schooling may be alienating rather than developing individuals who are active within today’s society.

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