From the particularities of practice to the generalisation of theory.

Show simple item record Bhyat, Faizul 2012-02-28T09:59:53Z 2012-02-28T09:59:53Z 2012-02-28
dc.description.abstract This thesis has situated the Government’s new integration of education and training policy within post-apartheid South Africa’s wider socio-economic and political context. It has shown, how in its relation to education, post-Fordism required a highly skilled labour force that was able to employ the new technologies and add value to goods and services. This, it was argued, would enable South African goods to compete more effectively in the global market. There is a strong stress related to the notion of ‘continuous innovation’ with it’s implication of skilled workers constantly adapting existing technology through incremental innovative steps. The study has among others, drawn on South African academic Kraak’s (1994) segmented labour market thesis (which has decisively influenced both ANC and Cosatu’s educational policy process) to argue that this notion of ‘continuous innovation’ was highly dependent on the presence of two knowledge forms in society and work – an abundance of formal (scientific and technological) knowledge and skilled worker ‘know-how’ or tacit knowledge. The implication was that, in sharp contrast to jobspecific or a narrow Taylorist oriented enskilling process reminiscent of South Africa’s past industrial training system, the new skill needs in late industrial societies now required the worker to understand the deeper conceptual underpinnings of his product/process nexus of work. This was to be instituted through South Africa’s new learnership programme. These developments came under strong attack from a left critical discourse that had taken issue with the policies neo-liberal underpinnings of subjugating education to the dictates of capital. However, such an integrated system had a particular significance for South African trade unionists. It offered an alternative to the divisions that were such a dominant feature of racial capitalism by providing for the possibility of occupational mobility through training that had been systematically denied to black workers under apartheid education. The new possibilities of linking tacit, or working knowledge to scientific knowledge, or theory to practice, through the integration of education and training would thus provide the capacity to bridge the social stratification divide related to race, class and gender which was historically PDF Creator - PDF4Free v3.0 SCHOOL OF EDUCATION : UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND iv entrenched and prevalent in the racial economy, and maintained and mediated through high and low status knowledge forms. The process of policy implementation, however, is proving to be exceedingly difficult in South Africa. The problem reportedly lies in the epistemological difficulty of integrating working knowledge with the more formal disciplinary knowledge domains. This affects both its redressive aims of achieving quality education and training, occupational mobility for workers, and enskilling for the new technological needs of late industrial society. This argument was derived from the Bernsteinian theoretical distinction between two discursive knowledge forms, characterised as horizontal and vertical discourse. It is stressed that formal and informal, working and scientific forms of knowledge are structured differently, and therefore are associated with different learning processes or modes of learning. Describing the two knowledge domains as ‘epistemologically’ and ‘sociologically’ distinct however, tended to present them as mutually exclusive, which further polarised the mental/manual divide. At issue, was its implication for the division between high and low-status knowledge forms. This thesis through its argument effects a synthesis between working and scientific knowledge by positioning the technologies that form an integral part of the workers tacit working knowledge as a modality of vertical discourse characterised by a horizontal knowledge structure and tacitly transmitted. Repositioned in this manner, the different modes of learning are brought into collaboration with each other. This also bridges the stark polarisation between contextualised and de-contextualised knowledge forms. A second problem that needed serious consideration was the difficulty that candidates encountered in terms of understanding formal scientific syntax. These resembled wider general trends, where, in relation to these formal discourses, historically disadvantaged students struggle to master the ‘curricular version of its rigorous language’. As previously mentioned, verbal proficiency is an entrance requirement for occupational mobility. In this way it constitutes symbolic capital, and confers symbolic power. Thus, the problem in understanding the difficult syntax of these formal scientific discourses has been identified by concerned educationalists as an exclusionary mechanism needing radical reform. PDF Creator - PDF4Free v3.0 SCHOOL OF EDUCATION : UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND v The thesis drew on participatory action research as its methodological approach to address this challenge. This was strongly informed by neo-Vygotskian insights, that stressed that language acquisition – and especially formal conceptually underpinned language acquisition – was extremely context bound, and could consciously be pushed to more complex levels through the aid of a tutor. This takes place within the ‘zone of proximal development’ – the necessary interplay between inductive, experiential learning of the subject which gives rise to word sense, and the deductive generalising instruction of the teacher and the curriculum which helps expand understanding of generalised and abstract word meaning. The methodological slant of the thesis draws on ‘action research’ because of its abiding concern with social issues of justice, and in this way resonates well with the concerns raised in the political economy of knowledge debate within which the aims and objectives of this thesis are also grounded. The stress on the dialectical relationship between theory and practice, as advocated in participatory action research compliments further the study’s theoretical underpinnings which supports the generalisation of theory from the particularities of practice. Through a dialectical process from practice to theory and back to practice again, we believe we were able to make incremental shifts in terms of the zone of proximal development of our students. This led me to re-assert the role of the educator as a crucial participant in the process of transformative learning. It was especially important within the context of the new outcomes-based education with its stress on a learner-centred approach. This thesis draws on its empirical findings to raise some important problems related to the conceptual coherence of South Africa’s new integration of education and training policy. It shows through argument that the integration of education and training stressed through this policy was not rooted in socio-cognitive theory, and argues that a more conceptually coherent alternative should root itself in new emerging socio-cognitive theories on learning. This stresses the importance of reconceptualising the learning process within a socio-cognitive approach, as opposed to a fundamentally ‘mentalist, or ‘biological’, view of the learning process. I believe that the nature and findings of this research could contribute both theoretically and conceptually towards a wider evolving social theory of learning. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.title From the particularities of practice to the generalisation of theory. en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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