10 people turned up in 'Staff House' at Exeter St Luke's campus Paul Ernest, Brahm Norwich, Deborah Osberg Jonathan Doney George Koutsouris and others. A good mix of experienced and newer researchers. The paper stimulated lively discussion and a range of responses. Some felt it was re-packaging ideas already found in Bereiter and Scardamalia's work and in the neo-Vygotskian tradition of Jyri Engeström and also Andy Blunden. Others were inspired by the focus on artefacts finding that this offered a way beyond learning in individuals and small groups to see learning as part of global collective distributed cognition.
1) Is 'knowledge creation' a metaphor? Sfard based her account on two root metaphors from Pepper, the container and relationships. Knowledge creation is different. To say that learning is knowledge creation is an identity relation not a metaphor.
2) Anna Sfard's vision was interesting because not a synthesis. Metaphors offered ways of seeing and since there was no totality it is better to be able to see in more than one way like wave particle duality. Is this paper offering a synthesis? ie does Trialogic include and go beyond monologic and dialogic? If so this is not the metaphorical dialogic thinking of Sfard's original paper but more traditional dialogic thinking.
3) A key aspect of dialogic is not just social interaction but inside outside relations ie response to the call of the other. This seemed to be missed. In a teaching relationship around PhD supervision, for example, there is a shared artefact being constructed, the thesis, but the learning is also the emergence of new forms of subjectivity and agency that can emerge in the space that opens in this kind of relationship. This dialogic learning that relates to teaching and the learning of the subject in response to the call of the other is not addressed by a focus on objects. (This is an issue to discuss next month with Gert Biesta's paper)
4) Does focussing on objects do justice to creativity and imagination? We considered Einstein's amazing theories and how he achieved them in a way that was not forced by need or pushed by group work around objects. Where does this creative learning come from?
5) Is there any logical connection between learning theories and practical pedagogy in classrooms? The implications of this sound like the kind of project based inquiry learning already promoted and justified by a range of different theories.
6) What is knowledge here? It seems to be conflated with objects in the paper but just having an object, eg a theory, is not the same as understanding it and using it. The event of insight also is often referred to as knowledge. Are these two different kinds of knowledge? How are they related? While you can create objects it is not obvious that you can create insight.
I hope that the authors and others can respond to these questions and add questions of their own on our facebook site https://www.facebook.com/groups/266528786889904/.
Next month on the 19th Jan at 4pm in staff house at st Luke's campus the Exeter face to face group will consider Gert Biesta's paper: ‘The Rediscovery of Teaching’ which offers an alternative position to educational theories of learning based on Levinas. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00131857.2015.1041442 (already discussed in my previous blog since I jumped the gun)