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Learning and instiutions

November 4th, 2010 by Graham Attwell
Interesting blog post by Mark Johnson. The problem I see with Mark’s arguement is that he seems to think institutions exist outside social, political and cultural forces in society – “playing a role not just in the support of fashionable means of production, but in the peaceful development and emergence of new means of production.”
I would argue rather that it is the forces of production which drive institutions. And I don’t think you can separate pedagogy from learning in the way Mark does – although I agree learning is a social activity, rather than an individual pschological transaction.
clipped from

Whatever has happened psychologically is only available for inspection through what Wittgenstein calls ‘skilled performances’ – linguistic and technical. But such performances are necessarily social performances, and so the institutional context that nurtures and supports their development is as important as the individual minds that appear to produce them.

Maybe our adherence to ‘learning’ lies in the traditional definition of ‘learning’, where a person of ‘great learning’ was someone able to communicate in a wide range of registers, with reference to a wide range of reading, and whose analytical linguistic performances bear testimony to this preparation and consequent high social standing.

For all our talk of the technology impacting on the relatively short lives of learners, their economic effectiveness, their ‘purchasing power’, etc… how often do we talk of technology impacting on the much longer lives of institutions and the social life that embraces them?
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