Learning and practice: agency and identities
Learning and practice: agency and identities

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In this course you have considered a sociocultural approach to understanding and analysing learning. You have examined how this challenges what is traditionally considered learning in formal situations and what are identified as achievements. You have been briefly introduced to the way that social, historical and cultural influences shape practice and what is made available to learn. In bringing together and pondering the learning occurring in the social/leisure and workplace spaces a sociocultural perspective invites ways of rethinking how, for example, we understand distinctions between home and school, everyday and specialist activity, playground and classroom and other distinctions that are often made across contexts. Importantly, this view argues for learning as a negotiation of meaning as people engage in social activity. In this view then, mind has to be reconceptualised as agentive. Understanding learning as identity formation, and identities as 'forms of competence', is central to how you interpret observations and participants' accounts in a sociocultural approach. In examining settings from a sociocultural perspective, agency is not assumed; rather, what is examined is how agency is mediated and whether this is empowering and extends agency or is disempowering and constrains it.

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