Traditional academics believe the best learning takes place within a mind deep in contemplation.

New ideas about learning, however, are challenging this.


According to this week’s reading of Lankshear and Knobel’s book New Literacies (chapter 7):

Knowledge in the modern era is no longer considered a private possession. It is considered a social activity. Depth of learning is no longer assessed through achieving a profound understanding, but rather by the affordances that one’s knowledge can create. In other words, the concept of deep learning infers that we surpass surface knowledge only when we can apply our knowledge at the point of learning or transform it for innovation.


Through this interpretation, application and innovation implies – CONTEXT. According to Gee (2007. p. 172) it is necessary to move beyond ‘learning about’ and, instead, focus on ‘learning to be’. In other words, deep learning requires that learners be ‘willing and able to take on a new identity in the world, to see the world and act on it in new ways’.This might lead some to ask… must knowledge be actionable to be valuable?According to John Dewey, ‘productive inquiry’ is the process of seeking knowledge in order to carry out a particular task. In this regard, and according to the reading, learning is used to “create artifacts that are useful and useable for end users.” Further it states, “Right from the start, the work to be done [would be] negotiated between the school and the end users.” (p.222).

This calls into question, who should be providing the context for learned information? The learner? The teaching institution? The community?

On one hand, Lanshear  offers many beautiful ideas in this reading, like this:

Pull models are ultimately designed to accelerate capability building by participants, helping them to learn as well as innovate, by pursuing trajectories of learning that
are tailored to their specific needs. (p.228)

At the same time it appears to be a sophisticated piece of sophistry when it states things such as:

…there is no such thing as a private language. Rather, language – and hence mind, and hence ‘I’, and hence ‘knowledge’ – is public: in the ways that Gee (1992) speaks of
‘the social mind’. With Freire (1974/2007: 124), it shares the view that ‘it is the “we think” which establishes the “I think” and not the contrary’.  (p.218)

This idealized ‘calibration of tone’ flies in the face of what it means to encourage an honest discourse. If one is learning and producing artifacts of learning for:

the intended recipients [who are] also seen as sources of expertise on
matters of quality, usefulness, standards, relevance, etc., that an artifact
would have to honour in order for it to be acceptable (p.222)

would this change the frame of reference for learning information? Social learning has many valuable aspects. However, if not taught along side critical thinking skills, it could also serve as a convenient tool for group-think. If social acceptance becomes part of the learning process, it could easily stifle dissenting views.

If this post you are reading here was written for broad acceptance, could it dare be so deeply critical of the ideas from this book it is meant to summarize?

That is for you to decide.