Literature Review and Introduction
The journal is penned by an art teacher, working with elementary school children aged 7 to 10 where she encouraged children to work on history, art history and community life for purposeful art making, more specifically on a project based activity on Olympic games.
Brown, Collins and Duguid suggest that most teaching practices face limitations when they assume concepts to be naturally abstracted from the situations in which it is learned. They are also looked upon as supplements to the concepts. Lave (1997) challenge the idea of separating the subject from its process and application. According to Duguid (1989), Learning = activity * context * culture. If not, education defeats its purpose of application of knowledge.
Situated leaning means to place knowledge and application to a context, a place and time, influenced by the environment. The concept of situated learning is embedded in constructivism (Stein, 1998). It conceives of learning as a sociocultural phenomenon rather than a decontextualized body of abstract knowledge. Situated learning differs from the other kinds of experiential learning in it being grounded in everyday practices, acquired situationally and deeply embedded in the socio cultural context.
Lave and Wenger (1991) note that, “the generality of any form of knowledge lies in the power to renegotiate the meaning of the past and future in constructing the meaning of present circumstances” (p.34).
The author went ahead to design a project to give children an opportunity to learn through activities rooted in their social and physical environment and calling it a socio-constructivist situated approach to learning. They define planning as an essential starting point but do not specify the goals for them. Instead they discuss about the various goal possibilities as a result of the various planning and decisions. Thus the hypothesis was flexible and adaptive to the needs and interests in the present context of time and place, for the children. The children were picked from a peer culture, scouts, where their friendship developed outside an educational concept.
Once a week art classes took shape on the concept of Olympic games. The concept was chosen based on the children’s activities, interactions and conversations. Observations of children, the identification of peer culture lead to insights of their interests, everyday questions, concerns, likes and dislikes. The children researched on the array of themes, posters, history, articles, and mascot on the Olympics. With a set of questions the children narrowed down on the mascot that further led to more questions on the subject. Post the research, they were asked to design a mascot for the Olympics to be held in their own country.
Ecological theorists like McCabe and Balzano (1986) and socio-historical theorists like Lave (1988) all focus their attention to knowledge being implemented in activities embedded in socially constructed domains, ecological approaches or physical environments. The author suggests that the role of the teacher here is to facilitate social interaction, purposeful discussions, constructive conflicts and environmental stimuli for triggering children.
As Denzin (1977) points out the socio-cultural world has patterns of interaction and communication that link individuals to the experience. Thus a very important aspect of the social environment is communication. In this experiment communication formed a network of sending and receiving ideas through negotiations, visual expressions and debates.
A number of American communities have made serious efforts to recreate successful educational approaches from other communities (Cadwell, 1997). The author concludes with the benefits of the situated learning in a classroom that initiated student interaction, communication, triggering negotiating capabilities, and contextualizing the problem prior to finding solutions along with the importance of teacher intervention.