Education & Experience My professional life
Right away, I admit it. I find pedagogical theory immensely interesting. Intriguing. Inspiring. Fundamental for understanding. Some parts of this field describes – in my opinion – nothing less that life itself.
I am deeply rooted in the sociocultural perspectives on learning, but find highly relevant aspects also in the cognitive theory tradition. Pedagogical theory as models, as structures, or as framework for understanding human conduct, communication and condition, holds the potential of many profoundly interesting discussions.
More concretely, I identify strongly with the writings of, amongst others, Roger Säljö, Lev Vygotsky, James Wertch, John Shotter, Marx Wartofsky, Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger. Roger Säljö can represent something close to the core of my interest. He mentions in some of his texts the fact that the human being as a biological species has not developed significantly in the latest thousands of years, but still we have changed our ways of living fundamentally. It is nothing in our biological predispositions that make us able to live so a different life compared to earlier times, but what has changed is our capacity to store, distribute and redistribute knowledge, and to enhance and develop that knowledge. Marx Wartofsky argues that we as humans not only develop new knowledge, but also the means by which we develop new knowledge. According to Wartsfsky it is not only our knowledge that develops, but also the very foundation of producing knowledge, making it possible for us to produce new “sorts” of knowledge and gain insights that was not even imaginable just decades earlier. This is not only true in our time – although more prominent the latest hundred years, this is an inherent feature of human and societal development in general.
Also, the pedagogical philosophy contains – in my view – exceptional amounts of interesting questions. In ancient greece, Zeno of Elea (ca. 490–430 BC) displays some early epistemological issues in his famous paradoxes. Socrates, in Plato’s dialogue Meno, tries to shed light on the fundamental question of how it is possible at all to learn something we don’t know what is. Fast forward to Kant’s transcendental philosophy with its forms of experiences, Dewey’s pragmatism, Piaget’s cognitive schemas, and of course Vygotsky’s view on the social aspects, all can be a stimulus for developing an understand of how knowledge come to life. We have been overflown with an ocean of epistemological challenges and arrays. To dwell into the depth of these questions and issues, provide a substantial ground for lifelong reflection and stimulation.
My experiences distilled
One of the most interesting results of my work experience so far, is a growing knowledge on how different education as a concept looks from different angles.
What has been an interesting result of my working experience so far, is that the field of education has been illuminated to me from different angels and perspectives. From the viewpoint of a teacher, education as such present it self in specific ways, with its focus on (amongst other things) the one-to-one activity that lays the ground for individual learning. From the perspective of a researcher it seems to be other things at play, for instance views on how this one-to-one interaction promotes learning in a more systematic way, and how changes in this interaction can be picked up and analyzed in a theoretically consistent way. From a position in the regional educational government still other aspects come in focus. Here, the legal aspects of schooling is salient, and compliance from the side of the school owner is essential to pursue. As a representative of a public school owner again new questions comes into view, where both economic, organizational and public interests must tied together. This change of focus, of course, is due to different roles and different tasks that has to be handled on the different levels and in different parts of the educational sector, but still it must be regarded as central that the field of education must work together towards the aim of making our children and adolescents as prepared as possible for a future world. This cooperation between the different levels and different roles does not – in my experience – come about by itself, there is some translations that has to be done in order for the informasjon and views to be “taken up” outside the context where it has been produced. From an elevated view, it seems clear that much of what is conducted and taken care of explicitly in different parts of the sector is tightly connected. From a ground view this does not seem clear at all. Different levels bring different world views. Both the organizational, the pedagogical and the legal aspects has to be taken into consideration when more profound educational questions is being discussed, and my experience has taught me what some of the everyday questions look like in the different part of the educational system.
The Norwegian researcher Jan Merok Paulsen refers to Karl Weick and describes the educational system as loosely coupled. I have found this to be a relevant description. To be blunt: There is a fair amount of authority on every level and in every part of the system, and to some extent that is how it must be. Every level and every part must be given a sufficient degree of freedom to determine how the assigned tasks should be carried out. And still, every part of the system must contribute and move in the overall same direction. However, it seems that loosely coupled educational systems has challenges to overcome, in order to pursue the common problems and challenges collectively. Lately, the concept of knowledge brokering has emerged as interesting in this respect. Although knowledge brokering has focused mainly on the relationship between research and practice first and foremost in the field of medicine, I believe this concept has the power also to illuminate the relationship between different types of professional practices in the educational sector. Both on the national, regional and local level, both “horizontally” and “vertically”, I think we need to gain more common ground for knowledge sharing. Chances are that the educational system has to be loosely coupled, but if so, we need to relate to that system I ways different from how we relate to a mechanical-industrial system. When it comes to compliance, to knowledge development and to autonomy there are specific social rules applying to the educational field. I believe we have knowledge to take giant leaps ahead, we only need to make that knowledge work for us.