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Moving Between Discourses: From Learning-As-Acquisition to Learning-As-Participation Documents

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Moving Between Discourses: From Learning-As-Acquisition to Learning-As-Participation 

written by Anna Sfard

In this paper I address the question of how to talk about learning so as to be able to cope with at least some of the longstanding quandaries and to arrive at new insights. After a very brief historical review, I concentrate on two basic metaphors for learning in which current educational research seems to be grounded: the metaphors of learning-as-acquisition and of learning-as-participation. After stating the importance of both of these approaches and arguing that researches should be adjusting their leading metaphors to the questions they ask, I present my own choice: a brand of participationist discourse which is grounded in the vision of thinking as a form of communication and of physics and mathematics as types of discourses. The usefulness of the proposed way of talking about learning is then illustrated with the help of empirical materials taken from my recent study on a 7th grade class just introduced to negative numbers.

Published November 11, 2009
Last Modified March 11, 2010

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