Bounded and Fluid Contexts and Identities – Implications for Pedagogies of Life-Long Learning

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Singh, Parlo
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Mike Osborne, Jim Gallacher


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University of Stirling, United Kingdom


This paper re-examines the old sociological question of: who gets access to what kinds of knowledge and with what potential consequences. In recent years, the gaze of educators has turned to the multiple learning environments outside of formal schooling institutions. These environments - informal, workplace, entertainment, digitalized - all compete for the attention of learners. Information bites are grasped by learners who travel in, out, and along the global flows of knowledge (images, ideas, information). According to Basil Bernstein, these multiple learning environments constitute a society that is now 'totally pedagogised'. In such a society, everyone is expected to become a life-long learner making themselves available for learning, unlearning and relearning as the needs of transnational capital rapidly shift. Bernstein warns, however, that educators who are seduced by the surface manifestations of this 'totally pedagogised society' risk diverting their attention from the principles or rules which generate complex pedagogic designs. As the gap between the information rich and poor increases it is crucial for educators to focus on the pedagogic principles which enable learners to acquire complex knowledge forms. This paper seeks to do such work by drawing on empirical data from a large scale research project funded by the Australian Research Council (1996-2000). This research project looked at issues of cultural identity, pedagogic designs and learning outcomes. Specifically, the project examined effective pedagogies for students attending secondary schools in low socioeconomic, culturally diverse urban contexts in Brisbane, Australia. These students included immigrants from the Pacific Islands, Indigenous students, and white working class students. The findings from this project were also used to research effective pedagogies for Asian international students engaged in Australian higher education (1997-2001), pedagogies for refugee students (2005-2007), and pedagogies of virtual or on-line learning for tech-savvy youth (2006-2008). The paper teases out similarities in the underlying principles or rules generating effective pedagogies in one case study. In addition, the paper analyses the relation between learner cultural identities and the identities acquired through effective pedagogic designs.

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The times they are a-changin: researching transitions in lifelong learning

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