The whole idea of being a “participant,” of being an involved actor as distinct from being an “external observer” standing over against or apart from what one is learning about or researching into, is crucial in everything that follows below. It leads us to a focus on actual practices and activities in an everyday context, rather than on theories and talk in classrooms, seminar rooms, and conference halls. As academics, the world of practice, however, is not very familiar to us. We must re-teach ourselves to think in relational rather than atomistic-corpuscular (Newtonian) terms. A whole new way of being in the world is involved. Instead of taking the thoughts or theories of individuals as an original source of new activities in our lives, it involves a focus on the primacy of our living, spontaneously responsive reactions to the others and othernesses around us. Such a change in stance – from an uninvolved, outsider’s view of a scene to an insider’s sense of their position, their relational-involvement, within a situation – changes how we think and talk about many notions of importance to us in our discussions of the meaning of learning. For instance: thinking becomes inner dialogue (rather than calculation); understanding becomes a relationally- responsive bodily activity (rather than a representational-referential one in our minds); knowledge becomes a matter of ‘knowing one’s way about’, as in knowing what to do next (rather than the accurate picturing of a state of affairs); while communication becomes more a matter of pointing out aspects of one’s surroundings (rather than the giving of decontextualized information).
Research Professor on society, culture, art, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, neuroscience, autopoiesis, self-organization, complexity, systems, networks, rhizomes, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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