Re: Vigotsky, Rogoff, Kelly
Tue, 23 May 1995 22:35:00 +0000

Recent mailings on this theme, especially Susanne Huffman's article of 23rd
May, prompt me to add my two-penno'rth, drawing on the field of
Organisational Development (O.D.) which, at first glance an irrelevancy,
has I believe a key concept to offer the present debate. The idea that
there is a similarity between the learning situation or "learning community
in the classroom" to quote Novak (1990), and the O.D. intervention, is one
to which I've drawn attention recently (Jankowicz 1995; in press).

O.D. sets out to train employees in a relatively unusual way. Mindful of
the difficulties involved in transferring training from the classroom to
the workplace, and drawing on behavioural research on & practice in
training and personal development of the 60s onwards (e.g. anything from
Encounter, Gestalt, to fairly conventional classroom training techniques
such as structured exercises and the like: a _vast_ literature on how to
train mature adults), the basic assumption has been that trainees will not
learn except by meaningful doing, and the approach which best gets them
meaningfully doing is threefold:
a) use as curriculum material some concrete practical problem with which
they are faced in the workplace, asking _them_ to define the
subject-matter: (something which really bothers them, which prevents them
from achieving targets which matter to them, rather than, particularly,
those defined by their supervisors)
b) engage them in researching the reasons for the problem, acting as
gatherers of data for which they can, as a result, feel a sense of personal
ownership, and providing more conventional training inputs as might be
c) the role of the trainer being to arrange a) and b) but, much more
importantly, to negotiate sufficient support from senior management so that
the employee group's report will be taken seriously and acted upon.

This approach works at shop-floor level, but also with managers: see any
O.D. textbook (e.g. French & Bell (1989) which cites the original appraoch
developed by Beckhard (1967), on whom I've drawn for this 3-step
definition) in the former case, and Revans' (1983) "Action Learning"
approach in the latter. (The interesting thing about Action Learning is
that the learning situation is created by getting a group of managers to
swap jobs in each others' companies for periods of up to 6 months, meeting
periodically in a "learning set" with the trainer to
learn-through-reflection: a _very_ Schoenian notion, and a very practical
way of confronting issues of Kellian sociality!)

Forgive me if this is familiar to some colleagues: it's pretty standard
material among occupational psychologists; but what excites me about this
debate is the possibility that clinical and educational psychologists are
being moved to explore issues concerning which the occupationals already
have well-developed concepts to offer.

However, I've gone on about this at some length, not simply to identify
conceptual similarities, but to offer an implication which I haven't
particularly seen emphasised in the educationals' explorations of this
theme (unless one counts the sociologists of education like Bourdieu 1971,
but that strand of thinking hasn't been mentioned in recent mailings).

----->>>> !!!

And that's point c). It seems to me that the O.D. people have much to offer
precisely because they have grappled with the _political_ issue of how to
confront the social and organisational environment of the learner group so
that the learners can have the _freedom to implement_ their learning, not
simply to learn effectively in the first place.

How best to arrange things so that their learning, personal growth, and
contribution are taken _seriously_, dammit, rather than remaining a
classroom exercise to which their supervisors pay lip service but don't
truly take on board. How to avoid, ladies and gentlemen, conceptual pissing
in the wind by well-meaning but naive educational theorists.

Don't want this to develop into an electronic sermon (but as you can see, I
care deeply about organisational twofacedness!) So I'll conclude with the
suggestion that the most useful concepts leading to the state of affairs
described by c) which O.D. has to offer the trainer/teacher/educator are as
-- entry in an expert role as a way the trainer has of preparing
supervisors to take employees seriously, followed by the rapid dropping of
expert role in favour of negotiation over power (see Eden & Sims, 1979
-- organisational diagnosis as the (well-developed) body of technique used
by the trainer to identify the scope of issues which, if tackled by the
trainee group, supervisors will take seriously
-- the negotiation process itself, as a means of clarifying who is client
to whom within the organisational intervention.

Phew! What a lot there is here, of potential value to PCP-ers interested in
the creation of learning communities!

Enuff for the moment; delighted to go into this at greater length if you're
going to Barcelona, and via private e-mail with anyone who isn't.

Kindest regards,

Devi Jankowicz

Beckhard R. (1967) "Optimising team-building efforts" _Journal of
Contemporary Business_ 1, 23-32.
Bourdieu, P. "Systems of education and systems of thought" in Young M.F.D.
(ed.) _Knowledge and Control: New Directions for the Sociology of Education_
London: Collier Macmillan.
Eden C. & Sims D. "On the nature of problems in consulting practice"
_International Journal of Management Science_ 7, 2, 119-127.
French W. & Bell C. (1989) _Organizational Development_ Englewood Cliffs:
Hunt D.E. (1987) _Beginning with Ourselves: in Practice, Theory, and Human
Affairs_ Cambridge, MA: Brookline Books.
Jankowicz A.D. (in press) "The construction and construing of teaching
microcultures in eastern Europe" in Kalekin-Fishman D. & Walker B. (eds.)
_The Construction of Group Realities: Culture and Society in the Light of
Personal Construct Psychology_ New Yor: Krieger
Jankowicz A.D. (1995) "Negotiating shared meanings of the management
process: a discourse in two voices" _Journal of Constructivist Psychology_
8, 117-128
Novak J.M. (1990) "Advancing constructive education" in Neimeyer G.J. &
Neimeyer R.A. (eds.) _Advances in Personal Construct Psychology_ London:
JAI Press.
Revans R. (1983) _The ABC of Action Learning_ Bromley, UK:

"If theories are to apply to practice, they must come from practice"
Hunt (1987)
Very Kellian! (I believe that Hunt knew and was influenced by Kelly,
before settling down in ?Toronto? to do his own thing. Jack Adams-
Webber will probably know more about him.)