11/5: What's the Point?
11/12: Knowledge in Practice
11/19: Who's the enemy
11/26: Ways of theorizing
What Theory Matters
Info 290a (Sec 4) Fall 2013
This short seminar will explore how differences in theoretical perspectives reveal themselves. It will address questions such as what does it mean to “have a theoretical perspective”? How do you come to recognize different theoretical stances as we read and consider the work of others? What are the implications of those differences for scholarly work and social engagement with the world? We will take up these and related questions by looking closely at how a group of scholars/researchers asked to address a common issue approached the challenge from different perspectives. For this we will explore Understanding Practice: Perspectives on Activity and Context. (With the growth of alternative online forums challenging the status of and need for the university, exploring assumptions about learning seems particularly salient in all our lives.) The challenge for the seminar is to detect the theoretical stances and assumptions that permeate these projects. We will do this by reading and in some cases rereading chapters of the book and discussing them in juxtaposition with one another. We will attempt as we go along not only to question the assumptions of the authors, but also of ourselves. Besides becoming more acute readers of academic work by the end of the seminar, students will have (we hope) a hands-on grasp of the craft of social theorizing, and an introduction to contrasting theories of learning, knowledge, context and practice.
[All readings, unless otherwise noted, come from this volume.]
October 29: Introduction
November 5: What's the point?
November 12: Knowledge in practice
November 19: Who's the enemy?
November 26: In theory and in practice
[This is available through the course bspace site. If you do not have access, please get in touch with Paul.]
December 3: Conclusion
Present your findings to the class.