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Let's Talk: A discursive approach to training professional community educators John Bamber University of Edinburgh

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Let's Talk: A discursive approach to training professional community educators John Bamber University of Edinburgh. In a process of enlightenment there can only be participants. Jurgen Habermas. The Individual Thinker. En light enment?. Intersecting Paradigms. Psychological (Entwistle) ‏

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Let's Talk: A discursive approach to trainingprofessional community educatorsJohn BamberUniversity of Edinburgh
intersecting paradigms
Intersecting Paradigms

Psychological (Entwistle)‏

Sovereign individual

Socio-cultural (Lave and Wenger)‏

Community of practice

Critical (Freire)‏

Site of resistance and social justice


Ways of Thinking and Practicing

McCune and Hounsell (2005) TLRP/ESRC

Habermas and Community Education

Communicative Action

Developing Practice Competence

Principles for Pedagogy


Approximating the Ideal: WBL2

Any Takers?

research and literature
Research and Literature

Gorard et al (2006) HEFCE

Need to address experience in HE

Haggis (2007)‏

‘activities, patterns of interaction and communication failures'

Daniels et al. (2007) ESRC

Rule bending in inter-agency work

Brockbank and McGill (2007)‏

Brookfield and Preskill (2007)‏

ways of thinking and practicing
Ways of Thinking and Practicing

CLD students

Community Learning and Development:

  • empowerment, participation, inclusion…

Contested Purpose of CLD:

  • progressive social and political change

Steering Frameworks: SCQF and CeVe

BACE Programme Aims - Critical Competence:

  • understanding, context, justify activity – why and how

Situated learning

dealing with uncertainty
Dealing with uncertainty

Learning for an unknown future cannot be accomplished by the acquisition of either knowledge or skills. There is always an epistemological gap between what is known and the exigencies of the moment as it invites responses, and this is particularly so in a changing world. ..A more positive term, to encapsulate right relationships between persons and the changing world in which they are placed, might be ‘wisdom’.

Barnett (2004: 259)‏

habermas and community education
Habermas and Community Education

Why Habermas?

Democracy and purpose of CE

Knowledge Constitutive Interests


  • objects of experience and a priori categories
  • constituting ideas – importance of reflection

Rationality more than scientific method

Discourse as the crucible of reason

communicative action
Communicative Action

Communication involves making three types of validity claims concerning:

  • the truth of what is said or presupposed
  • the rightness of the claim
  • the truthfulness of the speaker.
validity claims
Validity Claims

Validity claims are ‘universal’ in the sense that they are raised with every instance of communicative action.

Making claims is a reciprocal act.

People co-ordinate actions depending on how they evaluate the statements of other people.

Rationality ‘proper’ then is the ability to let action be guided by a common understanding of reality, the consensus established through linguistic dialogue (Eriksen and Weigard, 2004: 4).

a moment of empathy
A moment of empathy

Habermas’s discourse model, by requiring that perspective taking be general and reciprocal, builds the moment of empathy into the procedure of coming to a reasoned agreement: each must put him or herself into the place of everyone else in discussing whether a proposed norm is fair to all. And this must be done publicly; arguments played out in the individual consciousness or in the theoretician’s mind are no substitute for real discourse.

McCarthy (in Habermas, 2003a: viii-ix)

the objectifying perspective
The objectifying perspective

The distinctive feature of Habermas’s work is that processes of knowing and understanding are grounded, not in philosophically dubious notions of a transcendental ego, but rather in the patterns of ordinary language usage that we share in everyday communicative interaction.

Pusey (1987: 23)

four types of action
Four Types of Action


Rules of action, methods, techniques


Concepts, hypotheses, rationales, philosophies


Codes of conduct, principles, values, standards


Self-awareness, emotional intelligence, identity

practice competence
Practice Competence

Practice competence can be defined as the capacity to construct knowledge leading to the resolution of particular types of empirical-analytic or moral-practical problems.

NB. Provisional status of knowledge

critical competence in cld

Community consultation strategy

Policy interpretation/critique

Distinguish personal and professional

Self-control; see effect on others

Participate in team activity and goals

Express ideas in speech and writing

Critical Competence in CLD








principles for pedagogy
Principles for Pedagogy

Learning as an act of reciprocity

Developing knowledge through redeeming claims

Safeguarding participation and protecting rationality:

  • ideal speech situations

Competence as a constructive achievement:

  • developing normative structures

Not the tools – the toolmakers tools…

key influences
Key Influences

Piaget (constructivist)‏

Vygotsky (social constructivist)‏

Kohlberg (moral development)‏

norm guided to norm testing discourse
Norm guided to norm testing discourse

The cognitive structures underlining the capacity of moral judgment are to be explained neither primarily in terms of environmental influences nor in terms of inborn programs and maturation or processes. They are viewed instead as outcomes of the creative reorganisation of an existing cognitive inventory that is inadequate to the task of handling certain persistent problems.

Habermas (2003: 125)‏

challenges to the ideal
Challenges to the Ideal

From transmitting to producing knowledge

Countering negative theories:

  • Self, and learning and teaching

Privileging collective, collaborative work

Power and Positionality

Communicative virtues

Situating the curriculum

approximating the ideal wbl2
Approximating the Ideal: WBL2

Organisational Development

Case Study

Problems and Issues


Case Analysis


Investigating the Workplace


Development Strategies


Learning Review


Creative Change


useful insights
Useful Insights?

Justification the key to learning:

  • ideas, actions, behaviours

Incorporating co-operative activity

Development of practice knowledge

Ideal as standard and model

Any subject-discipline (Biglan, 1973)?