Manual Postmodernism and Education: Different Voices, Different Worlds

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  1. In Defence of the Modernist Project in Education
  2. Postmodernism as a framework for improving Education through Design | Andres Tellez -
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In Defence of the Modernist Project in Education

Adult Education as Theory, Practice and Research. Boundaries of Adult Learning. Situated Ethics in Educational Research. Adult Education and the Postmodern Challenge. Rethinking Contexts for Learning and Teaching. Rhetoric and Educational Discourse.

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Postmodernism as a framework for improving Education through Design | Andres Tellez -

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Andres Tellez Postmodernism now participants have knowledge to share and an own voice to express their experiences, and researchers start to play as facilitators instead of owners of the truth Stringer, ; Crotty, ; Patton, ; Martusewicz, Awareness of power structures As I stated in previous sections, power structures are present in language as well as in knowledge production.

For this reason, researchers should be aware of those common but dangerous reified structures in order to work for the interests of society in general, and not for the interests of dominant groups. Language is a powerful device of oppression, so researchers, from the Postmodernist point of view, should critically deconstruct their concepts, methods, actions and assumptions, to diminish the inference of those power structures in their work.

Research as a power mediator As researchers become aware of the structures of power underneath their contexts of study, and as research in Postmodernism aims for change, the natural consequence for research is to play a role of mediator between the dominant and the marginalized groups in a particular social context.

The purpose is not to change group that exercises power, but to balance an imbalanced situation, trying to give voice, power, and representation to all groups. Research for change Finally, it can be said that Postmodernism is strongly committed in the promotion of a real social change. West , in Stringer suggest that academic work should be aimed towards social justice, by encouraging democracy, critical thinking and social action, and by providing opportunities for people to be part in the activities and the decisions that affect their lives.

Andres Tellez Postmodernism 3.

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In order to see the connections between both, I review in detail each one of the previously presented assumptions and how they manifest in the following study. Design Beyond Participation Authors: Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Nicola J. Bidwell, Edwin Blake Source: The design team involved in the development of that information system consisted in about twenty members of the Herero tribe and eight designers based in different locations.

One of the designers was also a member of the tribe, who had a well-established relationship with the other members of his community. To perform this study, researchers applied the following strategies: As a result of their study, researchers designed a technological information system to support the knowledge that the Herero tribe produced over generations, in order to preserve it and to facilitate its transmission —oral, until that moment— which had been affected by the migration of rural population to urban areas and the arrival of the modern era to Africa.

Postmodernist ontological assumptions in context As I have previously stated, the concept of language is central in the Postmodernist conception of reality. The authors recognize the mediator role that languages plays in the process of knowing and understanding the world by showing how both Western and African rural communities embed their values in their systems of communication even though the former do it in writing systems and the latter in oral traditions.

In addition, the authors adhere to the Postmodernist vision of language as a hegemonic device that can be used to prolong the power structures that underlay a social group for the benefit of those who exercise power. Andres Tellez Postmodernism face-to-face communication. Imposing systems that neglect core features of information transmission can undermine the literacies people apply in participation This Postmodernist conception of language is accompanied by the notion of multiple realities: As I previously asserted, this multiplicity of realities is favored and celebrated by Postmodernism —which considers it a manifestation against authoritarianism and dogmatism— and is shared by the authors who embrace pluralism to establish a process of Extended Participatory Design with the Herero tribe, through the understanding of participation from different perspectives.

The openness to multiplicity of realities is, for the authors, crucial for Design: To extend the concept of participation in Participatory Design, researchers looked at it from a different point of view by using the African rural communities concept of humanity: The adoption of this African philosophy shows another particular trait of Postmodernism: Andres Tellez Postmodernism perspective assumes a commitment to mutual learning.

This commitment with mutual learning, and the resignification process that suffered the concept of participation, show another trait of Postmodernism that is present in this study: For Postmodernists meaning is built through the interaction among subjects, and between subjects and their contexts. By embracing Ubuntu, by building together the concept of participation, by extending the methods of Participatory Design, and by publishing their results and reflections, researchers avoided this oppressive tendency in their study and in their relationship with the Herero tribe.

This is recognized by Postmodernists as an emancipatory practice, because the perspectives of the different social groups that are involved in this context are valued and transmitted, preserving the knowledge of historically marginalized communities and changing the balance of power in this situation. Even the authors recognize their emancipatory action when asserting: It introduces dimensions that Western discourses do not often associate with community Postmodernist methodological assumptions in context The way authors conducted their study and interacted with the African rural communities, subverted the classical roles that researchers and participants play in a traditional investigation process framed by other theoretical perspectives such as positivism or constructivism.

This is a particular trait of Postmodernism which advocates for a more horizontal relationship between researchers and participants, where the voices of both have the same value and where their roles are changed. This mutual influence in the research process and its outcomes is possible because the community is actively engaged in this study which addresses a real need of the Herero tribe.

Instead of tackling an abstract, decontextualized, or hypothetical research question, the authors went after the solution of a social issue for African indigenous communities: This interest to solve a real-world problem and to aim research towards a social change is also one of the concerns of Postmodernism, which criticizes traditional investigation for having encapsulated knowledge in academia.

Also, Postmodernism demands to pay full attention to the power structures underlying language and other human structures that are commonly taken for granted. In this study, researchers show a high level of awareness of those reified structures, which they try to avoid, to manage, or to compensate with their actions and with the way they report their findings and reflections. They even recognize how some of their actions could create power relations, but they were adopted a self-critical stance in that particular situation: Doing so, they and their published study work as mediators between these two different cultures and traditions.

The exploration of this field has led researchers, designers and educator to formulate, implement and evaluate formal and informal learning environments based on Design methods, concepts, and mindsets. This practice has shown relative success as educational strategy, but its evaluation has fell short in providing enough empirical evidence in order to convince educational administrators about its effectiveness, which has hindered its massive adoption by the educational system.

Being this one of the most important challenges that Design-based Learning faces, its evaluation probably would benefit more from a positivist approach than from a Postmodernist approach. However, the formulation and implementation of Design-based educational strategies certainly would benefit from this perspective, which is not far at all from its practices. In fact, when analyzing Design-based Learning DBL from a Postmodernist point of view, several connections between both emerge, especially in the way DBL celebrates diversity, openness and pluralism, and in the way it fosters collaboration and empathy.

Though, DBL is not especially well suited to be used as an emancipatory strategy nor to be used as an approach to uncover or denounce power imbalances. These connections between DBL and Postmodernism, as well as the potential of both working together, are presented in the following pages. Andres Tellez Postmodernism 4. This openness could be extended as well to the broad spectrum of human ways to think and to express their thoughts and feelings.

That is, an openness to different systems of knowledge and communication as the ones used by the Herero tribe and exposed in the analyzed article. The encounter of this openness with Design-based Learning results in a premise that has been strongly defended by this educational strategy: This premise reflects one of the hardest battles that DBL has been fighting with the educational system and with more traditional approaches to education that privilege written communication over other forms of expression.


DBL employs the creation of artifacts two- dimensional, tridimensional, tangible and virtual as a method to foster meaningful and situated learning, and recognize the skills, knowledges and dispositions that can be acquired and developed through the process of designing those artifacts.