I teach an integrated instructional design course and this past year when I asked my graduate students to design a unit of study based on sociocultural theories of learning and development, one student, an asst. principal in an inner city school, designed a professional development program for undergraduates studying to teach in urban settings. (At UMKC we have a program of study for undergrads who are training to work in urban settings called the Institute of Urban Education) His program includes a series of experiences in his school with students, teachers and himself interacting with the preservice teachers. He emphasizes understanding the culture, language and social norms of the inner city as a principle method to develop common understandings in an urban classroom and discourage needless misunderstandings or antagonism.
He calls his program EPIC (Experiential Process for Inner-City Culture). His goals for his future urban teachers include 1) to view inner-city social behaviors as a culture 2) to self-assess temperament with regard to effectiveness in an inner-city environment 3) to develop a pedagogy of relevance-content/ social behaviors
He includes a video where inner city students are talking about "krumping" as an important part of their self-expression. He also includes a series of field experiences that identify accepted behaviors, expressions and communications including the concepts of proximity, salutations and non-verbal communications in the inner-city. His students respond to a self-assessment on inner city culture.
I guess what I am suggesting is that teachers are aware of the inter-intra nature of the learning experiences among individuals and groups and how misunderstandings inherent in the communicative process (overt and covert) can result in problems in a classroom if they are not understood and addressed.
Language and emotions such as feelings of respect or disrespect, acceptance or lack of acceptance, concepts of relevance or lack of relevance and other issues are important aspects of the training of teachers as they prepare to work in diverse cultural settings. Sociocultural aspects of learning are becoming more important for teachers to understand in order for them to be successful in an increasingly diverse educational system.
"his or her zone" -- should be taken to mean that we are focusing on a
particular individual (maybe not always a child -- as Vesna suggested --
we on this discussion maybe are in a ZPD about the ZPD right now :-)).
It does not mean that the zone is not distributed across the social
situation, interpersonal relations, particular activities and events.
However, we do have a difficulty in defining it -- Does the "zone"
manifest itself always as an observable interactive activity? From the
examples given by bb -- the two boys were partly in a class dealing with
whatever the class was doing and partly in a "zone" (more in
Csikszentmihalyi sense of the "flow") they created for themselves apart
from the ongoing social activity.
In addition, ZPD also implies the notion of internalization - that the
activity which is at the start done interactively with others, becomes
progressively internalized (so that the child can do more and more
"alone" to achieve the same effect) -- which means that the ZPD is
probably always comprised out of partly observable interactive activity
and partly out of imagined "private" and internalized psychological
Isn't that interesting??
Donna L. Russell, Ph.D.
Curriculum and Instructional Leadership
School of Education
University of Missouri-Kansas City
(email) firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>
(website) http://r.web.umkc.edu/russelldl/ <http://r.web.umkc.edu/russelldl>
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