Está en la página 1de 10

Dianne Allen Understanding Adult Education Assignment

p.1

A Discussion Paper - Scaffolding for Adult Learners Working with Learning to Change
Discuss in more depth one of the issues addressed in this subject. You need to design a question around which you will focus your discussion. This may be based on one of the questions in the reader or it may be a question that has particular relevance to you, your work or your interests as an adult educator. What is the best strategy for professional advancement and career satisfaction for someone working in learning and development in contemporary Australia? What kind of skills are likely to be most marketable? A Discussion Paper - Scaffolding for Adult Learners Working with Learning to Change .................................1 Introductory Remarks......................................................................................................................................2 What is the Current Situation (Context) for 'someone working in learning and development in contemporary Australia'? ................................................................................................................................2 What kinds of skills are likely to be most marketable? ..................................................................................3 What might be the best strategies to .. ?:.........................................................................................................4 How does a person learn to read context, and to read context for change, and to read change for change of context and its implications?...................................................................................................................4 How does a person help another learn to read context, and to read context for change, and to read change for change of context and its implications? .................................................................................................5 But ...('Tis a Puzzlement) .......................................................................................................................5 How then might we scaffold this kind of learning?.....................................................................................7 Summary and Implications for Postgraduate Studies in Adult Education.......................................................8 Bibliography..................................................................................................................................................10

Dianne Allen, 2003

Dianne Allen Understanding Adult Education Assignment

p.2

Introductory Remarks
A current objective in my practice in adult education is to consider how I improve my practice. Recently, participants in one of my learning activity facilitations provided feedback that the learning activity was not well-scaffolded. In reflecting on that critique, and other indications that lack of appropriate scaffolding may be a particular failing of my practice, I have been trying to think about what is involved in, and implied by scaffolding, for adult learners, and especially for adult learners working with learning to change. The material compiled for the study unit Understanding Adult Education and Training is designed to introduce students of adult education to issues of their practice in adult education and training. Consequently, that material touches on some aspects of change and learning in the milieu of change. In this discussion paper I frame my preliminary explorations of scaffolding for adult learners working with learning to change in the context of what might be 'the best strategy for professional advancement and career satisfaction for someone to be working in learning and development in contemporary Australia.' I do this because those currently working with learning and development are working with learning to change. I also choose to explore this concern in this context, because one of the key aspects of learning to work with change involves learning to recognise the role of context in such learning. In undertaking preliminary explorations I firstly consider what might be involved in formulating 'the best strategy for professional advancement and career satisfaction for someone to be working in learning and development in contemporary Australia.' I find that the answer involves the learning necessary to be able to engage, effectively, with change. Then I ask myself what might be a way to scaffold that kind of learning. In this preliminary exploration there are indications that work done with change management and with action learning offers some clues to appropriate scaffolding in this instance.

What is the Current Situation (Context) for 'someone working in learning and development in contemporary Australia'?
For someone to be working in learning and development in contemporary Australia there is a need to be able to engage with, and manage, adjustments to change (see (Johnson 2001), (Chappell 2000), (Australian Association of Adult and Community Education (AAACE) 1992), (UNESCO 1997), (Alheit and Dausien 2002), (Payne 2001), (Burstall 2000)). Such change is coming from a number of sources. Australia is part of the industrialised world, though a small player amongst nation states. As such it is impacted by the rapid rate of change in technology, and changes stimulated by change in technology. At the individual level, within a certain socio-economic range, Australians are known for their rapid uptake of technological improvements, some of which flows into the workplace. On the technological front, and moving into the economic realm, Australia is now impacted by global changes in a way that it has been protected from for a significant period of its nationhood by government policy - both the restrictive migration policy and the restrictive trade policy. Australia is now trying to compete in a world market economy. This has resulted in significant changes in the last 20 or more years, to almost all work places, and to the nature of work. There

Dianne Allen Understanding Adult Education Assignment

p.3

have been consequent changes for the learning associated with the capacity to undertake this change in work and the work of change ((UNESCO 1997), (Alheit and Dausien 2002), (Payne 2001), (Johnson 2001), (Chappell 2000)). The catch cries are: 'working smarter'; as well as 'structural', including 'enterprise', efficiency. For a person 'working in learning and development in Australia', the changes that they need to be able to recognise and respond to are occurring at a person level and within the organisational framework of such work. They are experiencing it themselves, for themselves, as well as needing to be able to help others manage different kinds of changes, but within the same dimensions - at the personal and the organisational level.

What kinds of skills are likely to be most marketable?

How does a person engage with, and manage, change? One answer, indeed the fundamental answer in human culture, is: by learning. Learning is the adaptive process by which humans engage with their environment. Learning is the inbuilt flexibility to adapt to an environment and any change in that environment (attributed to Kolb in (Foley 1995), and also (Bateson 1972)). Learning is in fact itself change, and part of change. So learning to change involves learning to learn, and is a second-order process (Bateson 1972), (Argyris and Schon 1996). A person 'working in learning and development (in contemporary Australia)' is then working with second-order processes, and expected to do so with greater facility and flexibility than in the past.

As I understand second-order processes, the skills required to deal with second-order processes tend to be generic skills, but operating at a deeper level. Bateson indicates that in learning, and learning to change, one of the areas of information the learner needs to attend to, more intentionally, is context (Bateson 1966; Bateson 1972). Context provides the cues that indicate to the attentive person that a different response, change, is needed now. The effectively attentive person is the one who has learned that attention has to be given to these contextual cues, as well as recognising which of these contextual cues are significant in calling out a different response in order to be effective. So, to equip a person to engage as a professional in the area of learning and development in contemporary Australia, involves equipping them to recognise that context is of the essence (Johnson 2001). Further, they need to recognise that responsiveness to differences in context is the key to the efficacy that leads to a sense of satisfaction (or agency as Argyris calls it (Argyris 1993)) that in turn is likely to lead to professional advancement (ignoring the Peter principle for the moment!). To

(What kinds of skills are needed? Will those skills be marketable? If those skills are subtle, they will probably not be marketable, since it will involve the buyers comprehending the need for such skills. The buyers need such skills, but if the worker/s in L&D in Australia hasn't recognised them and/or hasn't been able to help others recognise them, and the need for them, they won't have been able to alert the buyers to the fact that there is a need for them, and so there may not be a market One of the market responses is to recognise and buy performance, without worrying overly much about understanding or being able to enunciate its sources. So, a competent business manager will know that a certain kind of change is needed, and will be able to identify a worker who is currently delivering on that change. The competent business manager doesn't need to be able to enunciate what is needed, but they do know it when they see it. Similarly, the competent worker in learning and development who is able to deliver that change need not be able to enunciate what it is that is needed. In this case learning and development, to respond to change, happens - as a matter of 'art' rather than 'science'.)

Dianne Allen Understanding Adult Education Assignment

p.4

attend, adequately, to context, in a way that yields conscious knowledge that can be seen to inform decisionmaking, in my view, involves literacy/proficiency with the process of inquiry.

What might be the best strategies to .. ?: How does a person learn to read context, and to read context for change, and to read change for change of context and its implications?
Using my own life experience, and reflecting on it, and working with the logic of it, tells me that a person learns how to read context and effective activity in that context, by: experiencing various contexts, taking actions in each context and reflecting on that experience and activity in each different kind of context reflecting at a level that is 'critical' - ie looking for the differences that are significant, and being able to challenge taken for granted assumptions (Kressel 1997), (Toulmin, Rieke et al. 1984), (Mezirow 1991), (Brookfield 1995; Brookfield 1996) working at the kind of task that is the reflection-on-action that becomes the designing of a creative adaptation (Schon 1983)

It also helps to have an educational experience that raises the issue of context and variety of context, in order to discern in what way variations in context call out the necessity for change in response. Such an educational experience will include tapping information of the experience of others with a variety of contexts, and sharing how they are reflecting on that experience to show how they are reading context to inform their effective actioning. Having learned that it is context that provides the cues to direct appropriate action, and change of cues that suggests change of action, the next capacity that needs to be developed is the capacity to read the context and its cues and the significant changes in cues that suggest change in action is required.

This 'reading' is a matter of undertaking inquiry, of being open to the need to be attentive to the particular, and not to be captured by the routine. And since this inquiry is happening in the midst of change, it is a process of continuous, in-practice inquiry that is needed. This reading by inquiry for human activity includes developing a sense of history - the use of reflecting on experience in its chronological context as one of the steps of identifying relationships between factors. This reading by inquiry is also part of the development of one's sense of agency - having some mechanism for predicting relationships like cause-and-effect, especially for design causality, and having enough confidence, in that reading, to act on it. The quality of the learning is then assessed by the way in which it develops actionable knowledge. The assessment process involves taking that intentional action, and is part of the ongoing process of continuing to learn about the context, and changes in that context, especially changes wrought by taking action.

Dianne Allen Understanding Adult Education Assignment

p.5

One of the strategies for professional advancement and career satisfaction will be putting oneself in the way of such learning, for oneself.

How does a person help another learn to read context, and to read context for change, and to read change for change of context and its implications?
How does one person help another to learn to learn, to learn to read context, to inquire in a way that leads to meaningful change? If one is to do it intentionally, the first step is to know the nature of what it is that we are trying to help. In this instance then, the second step is to establish a context in which the person being helped can have the same sort of experience, as an educative experience. (Experiencing variety of context and taking action in different contexts and reflecting on that experience and being open to hear about how others are dealing with context difference including change.) The third step is to encourage them to engage with the kind of inquiry about context and responsive action that keeps them open to the need for change, and how to undertake effective change in the circumstances.

Another of the strategies for professional advancement and career satisfaction will be putting oneself in the way of learning how to help others learn to engage with and manage change, and testing that learning by doing it, oneself.

But ...('Tis a Puzzlement) 2


For learning to learn, and learning to inquire, as with other learning of generic skills, there are a number of problems. The learning of generic skills begins early, at the moment of birth (if not before), and occurs by a variety of mechanisms, including imitation and trial-and-error. The generic skills (of language and communication on which other cognitive activities are based) are more than cognitive, and involve the engagement of the whole person. Also, Gardner (p.xxii-xxiii) indicates that current 'constraints' research suggests that early models of progressive, developmental, stages in cognitive learning is not as straightforward as might be supposed (Gardner 1993), suggesting that some of our strategies relying on constructivist process and assumptions may need review.

Further, while learning is the essence of adaptation, teaching can be considered to be the quintessence of conservation. Whether we are talking about the teaching involved in acculturation, or socialisation, or schooling, the process of inculcating learned understandings in the next generation of learners is in fact handing down second hand clothes, or more accurately, second hand structures - meaning structures. It is the yin of the yang. The paradox of these two activities and the tension between them, in the paradox, is often overlooked.

The associative reference to Rodgers & Hammerstein's "The King and I" (1951) is intentional. I find Rodgers and Hammerstein's material, especially Hammerstein's lyrics, deal with many aspects of the need for transformative learning - learning to change, in change

Dianne Allen Understanding Adult Education Assignment

p.6

Also, teaching can, if conducted in a certain way, hide the need for inquiry. Teaching involves one party knowing, or having a certain quality of knowledge, for instance a structuring of explanation, or a structuring of how to identify what information to attend to (data selection). Some teaching is designed to then impart (reproducibly, replicably) that quality of knowledge to another. In doing so, both structure and selection represent second-order views of the environment, of phenomena and experiences of interactions from/with the environment of the learner including the learner/ learning teacher. The closer those structures represent reality, the more difficult it will be for the learner to discern non-compliant detail, and so challenge the inadequacies of the structure, and learn the necessity of critical thinking, and the kind of independent thinking for oneself that is the touchstone of inquiry. The saving grace of the environment, life and development, is that no teacher can know everything about everything, and the innate curiosity that leads to exploratory behaviour (Lillard 1996) can take a learner into an area that for the teacher is unknown. Then the learner needs to learn how to inquire, and find out for themselves.

For the learning needed to be able to engage with change, the difficulty is that we have learned to attend to context and its cues by mechanisms that do not always include the open and the propositional. The context can amount to the hidden agendas of each of the multiple social contexts we encounter, and we can learn to adjust to them by imitation, by trial-and-error, without explicit expression of what is going on. Some inquiry approaches prove to be far from adequate to the task of exploring what needs to be explored in these cases, to unearth the implicit, to challenge some of the unspoken and uncritically accepted assumptions that frame the understanding of context and its cues and effectiveness in that context.

Further, one of the lessons that need to be learned in order to engage with change is almost counter-cultural. It is that context does matter, that the particulars are important. The present dominant tradition of generalised universality that constitutes the objective, physical-world laws and predictability on the macro-scale, teaches us to neglect the particular, or to control it in/by our inquiry techniques. The 'success' of that inquiry route, in managing the physical-world, has been transferred, inappropriately, to the world of human affairs.

Also, we have learned that the process of attending to the particular takes time and effort. When we are engaged with a peer with different particular experience, we recognise that what we learn, by spending the necessary time to know the particular to be able to learn something from it, may mean we end up dealing with something that is not relevant to our particulars. We can then learn to not waste time by going down that track. This distances us, yet again, from recognising the value and gaining the necessary learning of working with the particulars, especially of learning how to discern the significant in the differences in the particular. We can only learn to how to discern the significant by experiencing the waste of time on the insignificant 3 .
This is part of the role of repetition, in learning, as understood by the phenomenographic analyses of learning Marton, F. and S. Booth (1997). Learning to Experience. Learning to Experience. Mahway, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: 137-165, Bowden, J. and F. Marton (1998). What does it take to learn? The university of learning: beyond quality and competence in Higher Education. J. Bowden and F. Marton. London, Kogan Page: 23-45, Marton, F. and K. Trigwell (2000). Variatio est mater studorium. Higher Education Research and Development 19(3): 381-395.
3

Dianne Allen Understanding Adult Education Assignment

p.7

The current emphasis on the first-order change involved in procedural quality improvement exercises, and the relatively immediate gains generated from such process also tends to postpone the need for second-order learning, as well as upping the ante for the time required to undertake the second order learning. The firstorder learning, by comparison, is easier and quicker, and yields some results sooner.

How then might we scaffold this kind of learning?


How then might we scaffold this kind of learning without exacerbating any of these problems? What is the particular kind of scaffolding required in this context? Scott gives us some clues from his work on managing change when he notes that effective change involves experiencing, and consciously living with, paradox 4 (Scott 2000). Such a view resonates with the Bateson understanding about learning to change/ learning to learn, and other explorers of creativity like (Koestler 1966), (DeBono 1991) and (Stevens 2003) and addresses some of the reservations I have expressed above. Scaffolding in this situation will need to include having some stability while experiencing change, having an internal and an external focus, having clear direction while being flexible, and so on. Further, it seems to me that the process of action learning (Pedler 1997) is one such form of scaffolding that I know of that meets some of these criteria. It does this by providing for: Working with the particulars Focusing on actionable knowledge, in the particular circumstances, and helping the individual enunciate how they understand those particulars to be operating Mobilising the particulars, and particular knowledge of peers, so that they are available for the problem solving process Framing the experience as learning, and as learning to take an action, and in this way opening up the experience to the process of effective inquiry, providing the participants are assisted to handle the paradox of 'teaching' - that it is self-directed learning, and self-assessed learning, that the experience of others is helpful, by raising alternatives, by helping focus on significant particulars

I still need to see the full quote to remind me of all that this might entail: p.187 "The change management approach which has been found to best account for the complexity .. involves not taking an either/or position but combining apparently paradoxical tactics. These include the adoption of: top-down and bottom-up strategies an internal and external focus pan-institutional developments and uniquely local ones clear direction and flexibility stability and change enhancement and innovation learning program changes and milieu enhancements attention to learning program change and associated administrative/support system change an emphasis on implementation support as well as development support attention to resistors and enthusiasts"

Dianne Allen Understanding Adult Education Assignment

p.8

Summary and Implications for Postgraduate Studies in Adult Education


I have indicated that to be able to operate as an effective professional in learning and development in today's milieu, requires the capacity to learn to deal with change. Further, effective professional capacity in learning to deal with change involves having a demonstrable capacity to learn to change for oneself, as well as knowing what is involved, and knowing that in a way that includes knowing how to help another to do it. In addition, I have indicated that learning to change requires an effective inquiry process, one that can operate at the level required to develop second-order learning. The inquiry will be focusing on the cues in context that signify critical elements of the change that needs to be adapted to, and identifying what learning is required to make that adaptation. In the case of assisting others to learn these generic processes, such assistance requires an approach to scaffolding which needs to be aware of the capacity of scaffolding to be counter-productive in this instance.

The scaffolding needed to help adults learn to change, a necessary skill in today's world, involves generating contexts that encourage the adult to exercise an inquiry process that helps them identify cues in context that suggest difference, and change, for themselves. They also need a process that allows them to tap the resources of variation available from others' reflective experience. Finally, they need an environment where experimenting and playing with different actions is a part of the ongoing attention to change-of-context, incontext. Such an environment will include the liberty and encouragement to be innovative and adventurous, and especially to be able to engage in the learning available from 'mistakes' - the information available from different actions that do not work. Some of this can be available in a formal learning context. It will be more powerful if it is also/rather available in the context of one's normal work and life. Making that available is part of the learner's responsibility, accomplished by acting as if it is available, something which is sometimes counter-cultural, or paradoxical.

Looking at the UTS' masters studies for adult education indicates that most of these components that can be available in a formal course (and not all can), for a range of learners (from a variety of contexts, at a variety of stages of adult development), are available. I wonder: Is there more that could be done in terms of helping the adult identify their readiness for some of the learning of generic processes at the deeper level? Can there be more focus on: the development of self-awareness, and self-awareness about one's own practice the development of an understanding of the nature of the shift from learning in the dependent, structured mode that is one of the learning paradigms, to learning that is self-directed, self-assessed, demonstrating more reliance on inquiry, and encouraging more innovativeness in action

Dianne Allen Understanding Adult Education Assignment

p.9

the development of awareness of ongoing change, and the need to remain in contact with change in self and change in context, and the possibility of the interrelation and interactivity of change between the internals of self and the externals of environment?

I find myself coming back to a position where I was when undertaking studies in Dispute Resolution in 1998 (Allen 1998). Can there be an elective unit for doing more focused work on case study of one's own practice? And can it be scaffolded in away that allows some mechanism for doing it in the company of others' engaging in case study work on their own practice? One way would be to have an elective unit structured as an action learning set process. Another way would be to develop a more formal and in-depth case study approach to one's own practice as a 'majoring' focus of studies. I call this second approach 'reflective research of practice'. I can conceive that this second approach could be of the order of 24+ credit points, and be a progressive event over the life of the whole degree. The first round of descriptive and reflective work of the personal case study would be done in the early part of the degree. The second level of engagement would involve recording the interaction of practitioner thinking about the practice in the light of peer experience of the literature and of other forms of peer experience expression (eg action learning set). The third round of activity with the case study of practice would involve explicating a design of change in action in order to improve practice in some intentional way, and then enact it. The final report on the personal case study, including reflecting on, and self-assessing the whole process, would be the final unit of the degree. Material developed in response to course assessment requirements along the way in other electives could also be encouraged to contribute to that final report, by way of appendices. I can see that such a process could be delivered by 'tweaking' 013332, 013348, 013349, and the Independent Projects 013356 and 013357, especially if it were identified as case study of own practice. It would need some 'supervisory' process to help support the integration over the extended time. It would also need to be supported by occasional workshops with reporting progress with the case study work and findings to date, to and amongst peers.

Dianne Allen Understanding Adult Education Assignment

p.10

Bibliography
Alheit, P. and B. Dausien (2002). The 'double face' of lifelong learning: Two analytical perspectives on a 'silent revolution'. Studies in the Education of Adults 34(1): pp.3-19. Allen, D. (1998). Reflective Research of Practice: Applied To Third Party Interventions - Part 1, UTS MDR. Argyris, C. (1993). Knowledge for Action: A Guide to Overcoming Barriers to Organizational Change. San Francisco, Jossey Bass. Argyris, C. and D. A. Schon (1996). Organisational Learning II: Theory, Method, and Practice. Reading, Mass., Addison-Wesley. Australian Association of Adult and Community Education (AAACE), C. (1992). Adult and Community Education in Australia: Mapping the Field. Adult and Community Education in Australia Towards 2000, Striking a Balance. R. Harris and P. Willis. Adelaide, Centre for Human Resource Studies, University of South Australia & South Australian Branch of the AAACE: p.15-33. Bateson, G. (1966). Problems in Cetacean and Other mammalian Communication. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Aylesbury, Bucks., International Textbook Co. Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Aylesbury, Bucks., International Textbook Co. Bowden, J. and F. Marton (1998). What does it take to learn? The university of learning: beyond quality and competence in Higher Education. J. Bowden and F. Marton. London, Kogan Page: 23-45. Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass. Brookfield, S. (1996). Helping people learn what they do: breaking dependence on experts. Working with experience: animating learning. D. Boud and N. Miller. London, Routledge: 27-40. Burstall, J. (2000). Learning communities for social change in forums on the web. Australian Journal of Adult Learning 40(1): pp.32-52. Chappell, C. (2000). The new VET professional: Culture, roles and competence. Sydney, Research Centre for Vocational Education and Training, UTS: 9pp. DeBono, E. (1991). Conflicts: a better way to resolve them. London, Penguin. Foley, G. (1995). Introduction. Understanding Adult Education and Training. G. Foley. Sydney, Allen & Unwin: pp.xiii-xix. Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of Mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. London, HarperCollins. Johnson, R. (2001). Challenges in Human Resource Development Practitioner Preparation. Studies in Continuing Education 23(1): pp.37-51. Koestler, A. (1966). The Act of Creation. London, Pan. Kressel, K. (1997). Practice-Relevant Research in Mediation: Toward a Reflective Research Paradigm. Negotiation Journal 13(2): 143-160. Lillard, P. P. (1996). Montessori today: a comprehensive approach to education from birth to adulthood. New York, Schocken. Marton, F. and S. Booth (1997). Learning to Experience. Learning to Experience. Mahway, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: 137-165. Marton, F. and K. Trigwell (2000). Variatio est mater studorium. Higher Education Research and Development 19(3): 381-395. Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass. Payne, J. (2001). Local perspectives on globalisation and learning: A case study of the printing and packaging industry in south-west England. Studying in Continuing Education 23(2): pp.215-227. Pedler, M., Ed. (1997). Action Learning in Practice. Aldershot, Gower. Schon, D. A. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner. New York, Basic Books. Scott, G. (2000). Understanding and achieving successful change in adult education. Understanding Adult Education and Training. G. Foley. Sydney, Allen & Unwin: pp.174-190. Stevens, C. (2003). Inspire your thesis. Sydney. Toulmin, S., R. Rieke, et al. (1984). An Introduction to Reasoning. New York, Macmillan. UNESCO (1997). The Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning, CONFINTEA, Hamburg.