Yrjo Engstrom and Etienne Wenger Opening Theories

There is a opening discussion between Yrjo Engstrom and Etienne Wenger.

Yrjo speaks about Apprenticeship Learning, Traditional School Learning, Problem and Project-Based Learning, and Expansive Learning. Whether the learning is oriented toward existing or new activity or existing or new knowledge determines which of the four sorts of learning is used to try to explain learning. This theory of Expansive Learning is not intended to explain all forms of learning. It is seemingly a linear process, though Yrjo stressed that being linear is:

  1. Questioning existing practice
  2. Analysis
  3. Model of a new solution
  4. Examining and testing the model
  5. Implementing
  6. Reflecting on the process
  7. Consolidating and generalizing the new practice.

This seems nice and clean, and follows to an extent the way I develop training in general. Surprisingly, I am not sure if there is anything particularly new here, or if this is really the best way to highlight a difference with Wenger’s work (which I thought was part of the reason for this opening session). I know that some of Yrjo’s other work presents what I think to be more of a significant contribution.

Etienne Wenger is such a dynamic speaker, and his examples from practice make a lot of sense, given how social practice and identity drive knowledge and competence. I think his message, which he was delivering without notes, was quite powerful. I really liked his discussion about social systems and knowledgeability. He talked about the need to ask what story one wants to tell about a system. This is the question toward which one should ask depending on the story one wants to tell. He speaks of knowledgeability and a networked view of the world–who else needs these connections and how ways of seeing social structure demonstrate the linkage between activity, network, and community of practice.

The fishbowl discussion, around a small table, is now taking place. Yrjo talked about how important boundary crossing between various theories is, and how these various theories will be used or needed to explain some situation. Wenger then discussed how he does not speak about communities of practice (CoP) as being collaborative–collaboration is not a part of CoPs.

They are continuing to discuss their various perspectives, but I do not see how this is developing as a discussion between two thinkers who may be seen as having alternate perspectives on some issues. Pity that some of the questions are not as strong as they could be, given these two tremendous thinkers and speakers have so much to offer to the participants by which to engage in thinking.

Ahh, now there is some great discussion, though far too close to the end!