Pedagogical meanings emerging in practice (Part 1)
Language and Literacies Education, Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba QLD
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PP: 001 - 004
The principle goal of education is to create men [and women] who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done -- men who are creative, inventive and discoverers. Jean Piaget (cited in Malek 2007, p.iv)
This is the first part of two issues of the International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning in 2008 both of which relate in a variety of ways to the theme of meanings emerging in practice. This theme was the major focus of the Third International Conference on Pedagogies and Learning in Brisbane, Australia in 2007 and several articles were post-conference submissions. In this issue, Part one, there are nine anonymously peer reviewed articles. As a cluster they consider pedagogical issues and impacts on both learners and teachers, and indeed relate to a range of meanings emerging in practice. These meanings involve the impact of the learning journey for learners, pedagogical approaches to enable learners to make sense of their experiences, the potential of the pedagogical journey to change attitudes and values, acknowledgment of learners' life experiences and events that may impact on their learning, as well as pedagogies related to students' acquisition of and learning in English as a foreign/second language. For teachers there is recognition of the need to acquire new ways of thinking about knowledge and accompanying values. Within this the importance of creativity and transdisciplinarity are emphasised. In recognising the important role of pre-service teacher education today, in it's ability to prepare teachers who are able to in turn engage all students in learning, collectively these works reflect the globalisation of education and new contexts for learning with an accent on transformative pedagogical approaches (Mezirow & Associates 2000).
In his first article Bernadette Walker-Gibbs examines the new challenges that stem from the move towards the concept of the 'creative knowledge economy' and focus on the creative industries, and implications for tertiary educators and researchers. In advocating a way forward through the application of Giri's (2002) model for transdisciplinarity this article foreshadows the need for new ways of thinking to come to grips with the commodification of knowledge as opposed to its traditional academic value, and in turn the need for new paradigms for researching and developing understanding.
Article two, by Cheryl Mallen and Frank Crowther reports the results of the application of the Change Infusion Model (CIM) in the exploration of pedagogical change involving teachers/lecturers in the university sector in Canada. These educators' experiences and perceptions of change were documented through the application of LaBoskey's Dimensions of Reflection (1993), which involved a written and collaborative discourse method. A lens of paradox was used to engage participants in making meaning from the contradictions and inconsistencies in their experience of a pedagogical change process. Four paradoxes were identified as confronting participants' in their professional lives thus highlighting the challenges emerging from the demands of pedagogical change for practitioners in contemporary times.
In article three, Soenke Biermann seeks to begin a conversation about developing transformative pedagogies that addresses the growing inability of education systems to engage many students in learning, and particularly those from disadvantage groups. In emphasising the need to critically reflect upon existing pedagogical approaches this work focuses on exploring the common principles that underpin Indigenous pedagogies and environmental education. Their ability to be transformative is argued through their use in re-evaluating existing models of teaching and learning and assistance in re-conceptualising alternative pedagogies and their underlying epistemologies. In the identification of this common ground and the need to nurture it in the future this stimulating discussion raises awareness of many critical considerations and also draws attention to relevant initiatives of ethno-ecological education (Doucette, Ransom & Kowalewski 2006) and environmental outreach and exchange programs (McCoppin 2003).
The fourth article by Jennifer Elsden-Clifton is an account of her implementation of a third year course for pre-service teachers where they create, produce and publish a narrative text for students in the upper years of primary school. By moving these preservice teachers into a teaching collective involving individualised, self-directed learning the accompanying challenge shows the potential for transformative learning through the creation of discomfort. The tension caused by the element of discomfort combined with the learning support is investigated through the analysis of on-line discussions and journals. One gains valuable insights through the author's personal account and pre-service teachers' comments about the potential of this pedagogy to transform the participants' learning.
The fifth article by Carmen Mills also focuses on pedagogy for preparing pre-service teachers to cater for diversity from the perspective of improving learning outcomes for underachieving students. In advocating for a more cohesive approach and one that does not reinforce stereotypical perceptions of self and others it introduces a pedagogical approach that is designed to be more transformative. Excerpts of participants' assessment tasks are analysed to explore changes in participants' dispositions towards diversity. The difficulty of changing attitudes and beliefs is strongly acknowledged and it is concluded that one stand alone course for preparing pre-service teachers to cater for student diversity is insufficient. Though valuable in raising awareness of issues of diversity and social justice, it is argued that these issues should be at the core of pre-service teacher education programs.
Henriette van Rensburg and Kaye Cleary take a different slant in their focus on tertiary students (article six) by investigating the impact of postgraduate students' need to negotiate workplace commitments while balancing off-campus study with family and personal responsibilities. Through their examination of a participant-orientated study, they discover emergent meanings and professional dilemmas that illuminate these students' patterns of enrolment, the underlying reasons and student retention issues. The three themes of students' jobs, university administration processes, and personal or life dilemmas are identified as having major impacts on these students' lives and decision making. Their findings provide valuable feedback to institutions, tertiary educators with respect to their pedagogical approaches as ell as learners alike to enhance adult, working learners' engagement in tertiary studies.
Focusing on undergraduate students developing their English skills in Iran, Mohammad Aliakbari and Abolfazl Hayatzadeh's article seven examines their language learning strategies (LLS) in the context of the contemporary emphasis on independent and self-directed learning. They focus particularly on investigating the variation and frequency of language learning strategies (LLS) used by these students of English as a foreign language and also explore whether LLS-use varies according to gender. Important for second language pedagogy is the finding that students had the highest frequency of use of metacognitive strategies followed by memory strategies. This result reflected the pedagogical approach involved in the students' prior study skills program.
The very timely article eight, by Ting Wang and Linda Li, also draws attention to pedagogy in relation to students who have English as a second or foreign language but with a focus on postgraduate, non-English speaking doctoral students. In their exploration of the challenges these students face and the pedagogical needs involved as a result of the demands of writing a thesis in Australia, they raise awareness of key factors that impact on their ability to succeed. Importantly, they highlight that this context depends on effective cross-cultural communication that requires cultural and linguistic knowledge on both parts. It identifies the need for supervisors to understand international research students' unique pedagogical needs and develop intercultural sensitivity in their pedagogical practice in postgraduate research supervision.
The issue of teaching interculturally is also the focus of article nine by Ann Dashwood, Jill Lawrence, Alice Brown and Lorelle Burton in their description of one university's journey to consider the notion and application of transnational pedagogy. Though in the early stages of a project, at the time of this interim, genealogical research, the study maps a journey that involved university wide consultation and collaboration. The purpose was to develop a transnational framework of principles and strategies for teaching and learning which could be used at later date to develop a strategy to evaluative the implementation of transnational pedagogy.