Edev_502 response wk8_2

Your post was excellent, as always.

The general sense I got from the post and in Rita’s response was that social learning was a done deal; rather in the ‘hey we know this is how things work, let’s get with the programme’. In other words, the ideology of social constructivism is being taken for granted, and criticisms of social learning theories seem to be relics of old-fashioned modes of thinking.

Is this really a valid position? Has social constructivism gathered so much empirical evidence in support that other views are invalid? I have my own views on this, but I’d appreciate yours.

I’ll state just one caveat to a discussion that could span libraries, a distinction that you hinted at when you brought up ‘knowledge’ and ‘learning’ later in the first paragraph. I see the teaching/learning situation rather like how a politician views his message. What matters most is getting that message believed, not the veracity of either the message itself or the method of transmission. In other words, the ends justifies the means. The complexity in education is that there are multiple simultaneous justifiable mutually incompatible ends. Agreeing on that end and the means is often a matter of ideology.

A case in point. In the various guises of modern language teaching, there have been successful learners in every epoch: the classical-humanist traditions, the behaviourist inspired audiolingual methodologies, the various communicative approaches since. Each epoch favours certain types of learner, yet they all ‘work’. (Or rather, none work—I believe—by themselves; the picture they paint is incomplete.) Your outline of the criticisms of CoP underline the difficulty any single tool will have when being promoted as a methodology (in this case of professional practice). Incorporating social learning practices into the classroom and professional practice may be a way of mimicking the ‘real world’ as a model for, say, classroom actions, but remember Bakker’s advice;

“Stating that all models are wrong because they don’t equal reality makes no sense. I do not even want my models to equal reality—I already have reality.” (Bakker, 2013, p. 313)

Rita’s position on the value of connectivity as it impacts on education is clearly an ideological one. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but it does run the risk of missing the bigger picture in education in which there are other non-pedagogic/ andragogic issues in the mix.


Bakker, M. Are all models wrong? Absolutely not. Groundwater, 51(3).

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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