Saturday, September 14, 2013

Who is in control of knowledge

I watch these videos at the beginning of the Leaning Styles course and perhaps see them in a different perspective now. What still remains is a lack of understanding in of the theorists on the deeper dynamics of poverty / trauma in a Adult Learner’s life and how that impacts learning methods. In addition human culture is mentioned in passing However a clear understanding on how each culture views learning as different and how personal experience impacts learning is simply brushed over. Adult Children of Alcoholics or abuse adults have many issues that impact Adult Learning theory and methods. Yes Cunningham is right in that we have to deconstruct social injustice however we need to replace it with empowerment of individual by deconstructing negative values and reconstructing with positive and productive ones.
Knowledge is a fact wrapped in a community of context. Knowledge is quantitative (factual) and qualitative wrapped in culture and experience. A peach is a quantitative fact if I like to eat a peach is a qualitative context. Context is what makes a fact or object relevant to someone personal experience. Someone may love peaches but not eat anything a Jew offered to them. Context is complex and difficult to test. Although both Cunningham and Mezirow (1997) mention social impact they provide little of any detail of culture value systems. Yet the adult educators or urban social workers are forced to deal with the individual values from a life of abuse.
Case in point: in my surveys of Community Learning Centers both here and Africa. Require that the student feel “Safe” both physically and emotionally. Once this takes place learning can begin. Safety is an entitlement concept of the college student. Therefore it is not on radar screen of a college level research project or Adult Learning methods. To a young urban girl in the hood, high grades will be a source of ridicule pain not success, it is not safe to smart. Her value system are the reverse of a college student in Kolb’s (1975) research.
On Power
In Mezirow, J Video He states a key issue on the purpose of Adult Learning and its twin sister Public Media. That. “We are trapped by our frameworks of reality. We can control this, we can change this.” On the issue of power and knowledge the big question is exactly who is “we,” on who is to be in control? If we are working the Adult Learning fields of government, corporations, military and corporate compliance then it is the institution that is the “we” in control with learning for compliance/process sake. On the other hand if we are delivering Adult Learning to the public sector, community outreach, literacy, urban or foreign development then the “We” in control is the empowered the individual with greater resources to facts, decision making, values and social empowerment.
Yet, if we are in K-12 or Higher Ed we are stuck in between authoritarian control through testing and individual empowerment through great cognitive decision making and character development. With Internet digital democracy of public learning the “we” is global communities of interest. Digital democracy being perhaps the dream of Dewey (1916) and Friere (1993)
In the case of media we also have disinformation as power in the case of Fox news who’s listeners full believe it is “fair and objective” when the rest of the world news services clear see it as NRC propaganda. Context is very relative.
So the question of power is who cuts your paycheck and who do you conform to. Perhaps we should have a dialog about the abuse of Knowledge out of context is an abuse or power.
Close, R. (2013). Global Education Magazine. Issue 5 Page 44 to 55 from http://www.globaleducationmagazine.com/global-education-magazine-5/
Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. New York: The MacMillan Company.
FREIRE, P. (1993) Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York, Continuum).

Kolb, D. A. & Fry, R. (1975). Toward an applied theory of experiential learning. In C. Cooper (Ed.) Theories of Group Process, London: John Wiley.

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