02 SES 04 A, Research Transitions: Conceptualising and Framing Knowledge and Approaches to VET
Conceptions of aspirants’ development of vocational expertise are in the literature divided into two main groups. Till recently mostly theories maintaining the importance of experiential learning has dominated the debate, ranging from Lave and Wenger’s theory on legitimate, peripheral participation (1991) via the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition (1980) to Schön on reflection in action (1983) or Sennett on craftsmanship (2008). Lately, on the other hand, stronger emphasis is put on ‘bringing knowledge back in’ (Young 2008, Muller 2000, Gamble 2006), mainly drawing on Bernstein’s distinction between horizontal and vertical knowledge in addition to Durkheim’s ditto between sacral and profane orders, or, as in the case of Winch (2010), building on Ryle’s distinction between ‘know that’ and ‘know how’ to show ways in which these are ordered and integrated in vocational education in order to embrace and enhance aspirants’ growth of expertise. However, latter positions primarily focus upon theory–practice integration as an endogenous matter. Less is said as concerns ways in which external discourses, politics or matters that gradually are gaining in importance in vocational education possibly are to be dealt with. Such ambiguities and issues still seem sort of silenced.
The aim of this paper is to discuss forms of curriculum re-contextualisation currently in progress, yet partly conducted, directed at a masters’ study program in Vocational Pedagogy in a Scandinavian country, recruiting students in the main from practicing vocational teachers, which takes as its starting point the progressively hybrid character of teacher professional practice (e.g. Noordengraaf 2007), as squeezed between managerialism, marketization and professional ethos. The main question is: How do we support students that mostly are full-time teachers and part-time students in their growth of expertise, helping them better to get to grips with their working days of a fragmented and mostly contradictory order? Or generally speaking, is it altogether possible to maintain a conception of Vocational Pedagogy building on principles of vocational knowledge in times of teacher de-professionalization resting in increasing commodification of education as well as work, both inside and outside their professions (Hargreaves 2003, Ball 2012, Bernstein 1996, Holst 2014, Standing 2009)?
Our approach to these questions is to make students acquainted with the act of decoding and translating metaphors of “extreme abstractions” (Abbot 1988) into a conceptual play of oppositions between notions of educational “external goods” and vocational “internal goods” (MacIntyre & Dunne 2002). These extreme abstractions – or ‘generics’ in Bernstein’s terms (2000) – are for instance ‘quality’, ‘expertise’, ‘lifelong learning’, ‘incremental learning’, ‘sustainability’, ‘efficiency’, ‘competence’ and ‘professionalism’, all of which representing ambiguous, strategic notions presently framing most vocational educational practice, politics and discourse, curricula included. Whilst getting acquainted with central notions and distinctions as related to development of expertise on the one hand and work organisation on the other, the students simultaneously are introduced to some basic system theory principles, including differences in play as represented by hierarchical set logics and so-called co-genetic logic, latter coined by Herbst in his critique on authoritarian, compartmentalized work organisations (1976). Of central importance is in latter case that demarcation is the first act of contextualisation. These acts are co-genetic. In this way Herbst then also borders on semiotic theories (e.g. Kristeva 1978, Brandom 2000), emphasizing the existence of webs of relations and the importance of making space(s) for reason and intervention. Similarly, the aim of our project is to support the master students’ ability in making inferences amongst a ‘jungle’ of extreme abstractions. Theoretically, this approach of “commingling” sources of knowledge (Guile 2014), then hopefully also might contribute to on-going discussions on ways of counteracting present hegemonic dissolutions of vocational knowledge.
Abbot, A. (1988): The system of professions: An essay on the division of expert labor, Chicago: Chicago University Press Ball, S. (2012): Global Education Inc.: Policy Networks and Neo-Liberal Imaninary. Routledge Bernstein, B. (1996): Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity, London: Taylor & Francis Bernstein, B. (2000): Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: Theory, research and critique, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Brandom, R. (2000): Articulating reasons: An introduction to inferentialism, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press Gamble, J. (2006): Theory and practice in the vocational curriculum’. In Young & Gamble (eds): Knowledge, curriculum and qualifications for South African further education, Cape Town: HSRC Press Guile, D. (2014): Professional knowledge and professional practice as continous recontextualization, in Young, M. & J. Muller (eds): Knowledge, Expertise and the Professions, London & New York: Routledge Hargreaves, A. (2003): Teaching in the Knowledge Society: Education in the Age of Insecurity, Berkshire: Open University Press Herbst, P (1976): Alternatives to hierarchies, London: Springer Holst, H. (2014): ’Commodifying institutions’: vertical disintegration and institutional change in German labour relations, in Work, employment and society, Vol 28 (1): 3-20 Kristeva, J. (1978): Die Revolution der poetischen Sprache, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Lave,J. & Wenger, E. (1991): Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation: Cambridge University Press MacIntyre, A. & Dunne, J.(2002): Alasdair MacIntyre on Education: In Dialogue with Joseph Dunne, in Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol 36, No 1, 2002 Morrow, W. (2009): Bounds of Democracy: Epistemological Access in Higher Education, Cape Town: HSRC press (open source) Muller, J. (2000): Reclaiming Knowledge: Social Theoy, Curriculum and Education Policy, London: Routledge Noordegraaf, M. (20007): From ”Pure” to ”Hybrid” Professionalism. Present-Day Professionalism in Ambigous Public Domains, in Administration & Society, Vol 39, Number 6 Sennett, R (2008): The Craftsman, London: Penguin Books Schön, D (1983): The Reflective Practioner: How Professionals Think in Action: Basic Books Standing, G. (2009): Work after Globalization: Building Occupational Citizenship, Cheltenham: Edwar Elgar Thesen, L. & Cooper, L. (2014): Risk in Academic Writing. Postgraduate Students, their Teachers and the Making of Knowledge, Toronto: Multilingual Matters Winch, C (2010): Dimensions of Expertise. A Conceptual Exploration of Vocational Knowledge: London: Continuum Young, M. (2008): Bringing Knowledge Back In: From social constructivism to social realism in the sociology of education, London: Routledge
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