Learning vocational practice in relative social isolation: The epistemological and pedagogic practices of small-business operators
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The knowledge required for effective vocational practice arises from historical and cultural sources, with the actual requirements for performance at work being manifested in particular ways in specific workplace settings. In order to construct this knowledge (i.e., learn it), individuals need to engage with social partners, artefacts, and practices that provide access to the procedural, conceptual, and dispositional forms of the knowledge. Much is understood about how this learning progresses in situations that provide direct access to this knowledge through more experienced social partners (e.g., teachers in schools and colleges, experts in workplaces). However, many individuals (e.g., shift workers, home workers) are working and learning in relative social isolation and often in the absence of such expert partners. Moreover, perhaps most learning occurs through experiences in working life in the absence of expert guidance. Consequently, there must be ways of learning socially derived knowledge in the absence of more experienced partners. This chapter discusses learning in relative social isolation to advance a conception of the process of learning in these kinds of situations. It does this by re-engaging with learning theorists whose ideas are informative and by elaborating these processes through explanations of small business operators' epistemological and pedagogic practices as they learnt new work tasks. In combination, both localised contributions and these workers' agency are held to be central to their learning in these circumstances. This account informs the means by which other kinds of socially isolated workers might come to know and learn through their working life. Such considerations are important for those concerned with developing the capacities of workforces, particularly for the many, perhaps the majority, of those individuals who work and learn in relative social isolation.
Supporting Workplace Learning: Towards evidence-based practice
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Education not elsewhere classified