Edev_502 response wk9_6

I read with interest your description your examples of tension between social reproduction and transformation. Following up the references, I was struck by the lack of engagement with the idea of generational divides in the literature on professional learning. Another gap was over the recognition that while self-directed learning may be useful, very little discussed the reasons it was not being pursued. I’d like to point out these omissions and ask you if these points have any relevance in your situation.

  1. Fear. The notion of future selves (Markus & Nurius, 1986) applies not only to students but also to educator practitioners as well. Three selves are discussed: expected, hoped for and feared selves. But all of these changes are founded on the idea that there is something to change. However, in the case of established, successful working professionals, change may be threatening rather than emancipating.
  2. Agency. Self-directed learning in adults or “andragogy is unconditionally on the side of human agency and the power of the individual to shed the shackles of history and circumstance in pursuit of learning” (Pratt, 1993, cited in Merriam, 2001, p. 7). Pratt’s view is supported by Mezirow whose critical theory of adult learning is predicated on the work of Habermas (Mezirow, 1981). Mezirow discusses the impact on adult learning of three Habemasian notions: work, practical and emancipatory. Agency requires motivation, and this motivation in Mezirow is towards “dramatic personal and social change” (p. 6). Little is said about the generation who are comfortable and desire social stability.
  3. Curricular. The expectation that practitioners continue their life-long education through self-directed learning may be generationally problematic. Techniques such as reflection and choice are relatively modern inclusions in general curricula. Slotnick (1999) discusses Canadian “contemporary (i.e. problem-based) undergraduate curricula” (p. 1111) and his 32 respondents “were all committed clinicians who valued the opportunity to reflect” (p. 1117). Those educated in more traditional, linear models may fail to see the value of self-directed learning. Indeed, as those practitioners were successful, grew up and prospered, in the traditional system, they may well believe in the efficacy of the older ways.

Beliefs are not only built into educational systems, they are lived and experienced inside them. Last week I quoted Max Plank, who remarked that; “science progresses one funeral at a time”.

Is this the situation in your country?


Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41(9), 954ā€“969. http://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.41.9.954

Merriam, S. B. (2001). Andragogy and Self-Directed Learning: Pillars of Adult Learning Theory. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2001(89), 3. http://doi.org/10.1002/ace.3

Mezirow, J. (1981). A Critical Theory of Adult Learning and Education. Adult Education, 32(1), 61ā€“82. http://doi.org/10.1177/074171368103200101

Slotnick, H. B. (1999). How doctors learn Physicians self-directed learning episodes. Academic Medicine, 74(10), 1106ā€“1117.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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