07 May 2007

On 'the Language we are Speaking'

Hi Folks,
Knowing where people are coming from is useful in actually decoding the meaning of the words conveyed. 'The language we are speaking' is a kind of metaphor for how our minds work. The great potential of parallel cognitive processing in one mind , and then collectively in a networked group of individuals can rarely be transmitted through the narrow bandwidth of speech or other media like writing or even video (more on video soon). That some distributed knowledge cognitive processes in others are outside of being received and acquired by an individual mind, would raise the question whether some internal cognitive processes are outside those received - which puts limits to Vygotsky's theory that all internal knowledge processes are acquired from others.

This puts the psychological distance into distance education in Moore's 1993 Theory of Transactional Distance.

Especially across cultures where minds are formed by local cultures, even cognitive conceptions of being a teacher vary remarkably and are worth noting. In Japan, the conception of a teacher is as a ‘knower’ and leader, and the idea of the teacher still learning is not institutionally accepted, as Zeichner et al. (1987, p.38) cautions –
"[Only] a few professionals think of teaching as a continual process of development, ... The conventional view, probably the view of the majority of teachers and administrators, is that any fully-licensed teacher should be expected to be a 'completed' teacher, fully capable of meeting all the obligations and demands of a classroom." Teachers in Japan are socially and culturally bound by rules that likely differ ffrom culture to culture. Even mentioning being on a course as a 'student' learning is not recommended in Japan even in this blog.
Late nights and long hours at the weekend probably mean that teachers who do study outside of teaching-time are more than exhausted. Teaching is one of the occupations in which the individual can expect to experience 'burn out' three or four times during their teaching career, so coping strategies especially in Japan are essential. A recent study by the way published in March 2007 found in Japan that (while an individual teacher can expect to suffer 'burn out' the most frequently) of various occupations, the occupation with the highest population frequency of 'burn-out' was ( you guessed it ?! ) being a fire-fighter.

Getting back to the Theory of Transactional Distance, I believe certain aspects of how the theory deals with autonomy need revisiting since it describes increasing autonomy as desirable, while Adult Education Theory sees adults as bringing with them so much prior knowledge and culture which is a type of baggage that at times reduced autonomy is needed to accomplish the learning task in a team manner.

Though this may be complex . . . I hope readers can see where I am coming from and can see the differences in 'the language we are speaking' .
All Best Wishes

Zeichner, K.M., Tabachnick, B.R., & Densmore, K. (1987). Individual, institutional, and cultural influences on the development of teachers' craft knowledge, (pp. 21-59). In J. Calderhead (Ed.), Exploring teachers' thinking. Lewes : Falmer Press.

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