Dispositions and the new culture of learning

In the afore-mentioned book, A New Culture of Learning, by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown, the authors also explore the concept of ‘dispositions’.

“Under the old model of learning, there was some question about whether dispositions could be taught or perhaps nurtured. They have been likened to learning styles that could be more or less receptive to certain pedagogical techniques.
We think of dispositions as something quite different. In our view, dispositions are connected to indwelling more than anything else. They indicate how a student will make connections at the tacit level. They don’t tell us what someone is likely to learn, but they do suggest the kinds of questions she might ask and how she might approach answering them – in other words, how she is likely to learn. A disposition is not something that someone is explicitly taught.” (p.86)

Dispositions alone don’t tell us how to construct particular learning environments. They do, however, indicate the potential for diversity of learning styles within an exiting educational environment. In most forms of schooling, therefore, dispositions are problematic. Each classroom must be able to adjust to multiple ways of answering a single question, and teachers must have a thorough understanding of a countless number of dispositions – an unreasonable expectation for even the most dedicated educator.
But by reversing the question and the answer, as inquiry does, something that started as a liability – the radical differences [-p.89] among students and their dispositions – becomes an advantage. When the idea is to ask questions, diversity is a good thing. Moreover, students are both willing and capable of learning from one another in deep and profound ways. They turn diversity into strength and build their own networked communities based on interest and shared passion and perspective. In essence, they create and participate in their own collective.
The new culture of learning nurtures collective indwelling. Until now, we have lacked the ability, resources, and connections to make this kind of learning scalable and powerful. With access to the nearly endless supply of collectives today, however, learning that is driven by passion and play is poised to significantly alter and extend our ability to think, innovate, and discover in ways that have not previously been possible. Most of all, it may allow us to ask questions that have never before been imaginable.” (pp.88-89)

Ref: Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (2011) A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky. : CreateSpace?


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in early years education, Metaphors and Narratives around children and learners, Standardised Testing, Teaching excellence, Understanding Education and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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