[xmca] the problem with expert vs novice

From: Jay Lemke <jaylemke who-is-at umich.edu>
Date: Sat Jun 30 2007 - 17:56:20 PDT

With my time limited, and the subject headers for some of these
discussion getting rather unwieldy (maybe it's only my own system,
but I've got many of them in a loop of Possible Spam identifiers!)
... a quick note.

What bothers me about some ways of using the expert/novice antithesis
is that they do seek to conceal, by naturalizing, the power dimension
hidden here at several levels. That novices should defer to experts'
views of what is to be learned, how things are to be done, etc. That
experts are the ones to decide who is an expert and who is a novice,
and by how much they differ from one another, and how each should
relate to the other, esp. in power, decisions, etc.

Now if we re-frame this as teacher/student, I think we would all be
much more worried, and Paolo Freire's critique here is well known and
seems to me also well validated in practice. It seems to me that
calling the relation 'expert/novice' pushes the naturalization so far
as to inhibit necessary critique.

Moreover, expert/novice is part of a larger discourse which is
essentially a discourse of reproduction. Even in its more benign
versions (e.g. Lave, less so Wenger). Much less it's, to my view,
less benign ones (e.g. Herb Simon and the 70s-80s cognitivist views
on expertise and problem-solving), which were very much the product
of management models.

Let learners seek out the expertise they find of value, make use of
those they deem to be expert, and diverge from what they are taught
when and as they find productive. Let experts not seek to clone
themselves by misrepresenting reproduction as education.


Jay Lemke
University of Michigan
School of Education
610 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Tel. 734-763-9276
Email. JayLemke@UMich.edu
Website. <http://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke%A0>www.umich.edu/~jaylemke
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Received on Sat Jun 30 17:59 PDT 2007

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