Conceptualizing learning experiences: Contributions and mediations of the social, personal and brute
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This paper conceptualizes and elaborates what constitutes learning experiences. It does so from a perspective that centres on experiences as arising through relations between social and personal worlds, yet also acknowledges the mediation of brute facts (i.e., nature). The social contributions are twofold, yet quite distinct. First, there are immediate social experiences that are projected by the particular socially and culturally derived events (i.e., activities and interactions) that individuals encounter, often in circumstances shaped by socially situational and physical factors. Second, there are socio-personal legacies, comprising individuals' cognitive experience, that arise through their ongoing engagements with social experiences throughout life histories. Although socially-derived, these legacies are person-dependent and may be personally idiosyncratic. Importantly, they shape how individuals construe and construct what they experience during, engage with, and learn from these events. Learning experiences, therefore, comprise a negotiation between the suggestions of social and physical world and individuals' construal of what the world projects. These negotiations are also shaped and mediated by brute facts, such as maturation. Underpinning this conception of learning experiences are interdependencies between the social and personal contributions, which are negotiated in ways that are necessarily relational in terms of the exercise of personal agency and the suggestion of social and physical forms. It is through these negotiations that individuals' change or learn and society's norms and practices are remade and transformed. Given this duality, the activities and interactions that comprise learning experiences stand as important bases for understanding: (a) individual change or learning and (b) the ongoing process of remaking cultural practices. It also extends the concept of inter-psychological processes as being relational and needing to include the contributions and mediations of brute facts.
Mind, Culture and Activity
Copyright 2009 Routledge. This is an electronic version of an article published in Mind, Culture and Activity 16 (1), 2009, pages 32-47. Mind, Culture and Activity is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com with the open URL of your article.
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