Shaffer on Pedagogical Praxis: The Professions as Models for Postindustrial Education

Pedagogical Praxis: The Professions as Models for Postindustrial Education. (Via David Williamson Shaffer.) It may be hard to take much away from some of these quotes without the context of the full paper… thus the length of some of the quotes… and, of course, thus the link here. :)

At any rate, this too used Dewey’s work as a foundation and built into the 21st century. I’ve captured a few quotes I hope to draw on for my own work. And guess what? Yup, these quotes are categorized based on the section of my own paper they might appear in. They appear with minimal annotation, and they appear sans any formating – I’ve dragged and dropped from my outliner.


- [ ] “Dewey’s work, written in an industrial era, cannot be applied
directly to educational practice in an age increasingly marked by
social and economic transformations of new technology… What
would it mean if we took this program seriously today? What new
relationships among learning, technology, and citizenship emerge
if we ground educational practice in the postindustrial
technologies of communication and information? What would such a
program look like, and what would its implications be?” (Shaffer,
2004, p. 1401)
- [ ] “It is easy to forget after almost a century that Dewey’s lab
school in Chicago was precisely this: a laboratory for experiment
in education and democracy. A critical research problem today is
to develop such laboratories in an information age, when the
school is no longer the only (or necessarily even the primary)
focus of education and when the boundaries of cognitive, social,
and moral development are more complex and porous than even 30
years ago. To develop such a laboratory, pedagogical praxis turns
to the broad learning contexts of young people, centered on
environments designed for formal education but not restricted to
schools as currently structured. Rather, the focus is on learning
and the conditions and processes that facilitate learning in
technology-rich contexts writ large.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 1402)


- [ ] “new technologies make it easier for students to learn about the
world by participating in meaningful activity.” (Shaffer, 2004,
p. 1403)
- [ ] ” new technologies support Dewey’s vision of bringing the ‘‘life
of the child’’ into an environment for learning (Dewey, 1915, p.
30)” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 1404)
- [ ] “pedagogical praxis seeks to create environments that are thickly
authentic. Resnick and I (Shaffer & Resnick, 1999) argued that
authenticity is an alignment between activities and some
combination of (a) goals that matter to the community outside of
the classroom, (b) goals that are personally meaningful to the
student, (c) ways of thinking within an established domain, and
(d) the means of assessment. Thickly authentic learning
environments create all of these alignments simultaneouslyFfor
example, in the case of pedagogical praxis, when personally
meaningful projects are produced and assessed according to the
epistemological and procedural norms of an external community of
practice.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 1406)

- [ ] Transfer (Shaffer, 2004, p. 1411)

Socially Negotiated

- [ ] “computers and other information technologies can make it easier
for students to become active participants in meaningful projects
and practices in the life of their community and suggests that
professional practices such as architecture, mediation, and
journalism can provide constructive models for helping students
learn from such experiences. In this vision, new technology
reinvigorates Dewey’s (1915) idea of linking school with
society.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 1401)
- [ ] “using the ways in which professionals are trained as a model for
learning environments” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 1404)
- [ ] “Because professional learning practices have evolved into
coherent systems over time, pedagogical praxis suggests that
professions such as accounting, architecture, mediation,
engineering, journalism, law, and medicine can provide
particularly powerful models for developing technology-based
learning environments in which young people can learn important
skills, habits, and associations (Shaffer, 1998, 2002).”
(Shaffer, 2004, p. 1405)
- [ ] “enacting professional learning practices helped these students
think about ethical dilemmas using the epistemological framework
of professional negotiation and dispute resolution. In this case,
learning through simulated negotiation supported both a change in
perspective taking and the devel-
opment of conceptual understanding.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 1414)
- [ ] “(a) pedagogical praxis can be used to design effective programs
for students from a range of cultural and socioeconomic
backgrounds; (b) environments based on professional learning
practices can support learning in a range of domains (including
mathematics, biology, ethics, communication arts, and civics),
leading to significant changes in attitudes and mores as well as
the refinement of cognitive skills; and (c) learning practices
from a range of professions (including architecture, me-
diation, and journalism) can inform the development of learning
environments for middle and high school students… teachers,
curriculum developers, and other practitioners might borrow from
this work in developing new and innovative curricula to expand
the range of pedagogies used in traditional classrooms, which has
in fact happened in several instances.” (Shaffeer, 2004, p. 1416)
Game designers could heed this advice too. :)
- [ ] “by participating in professional learning practices, students
can internalize and transfer these epistemological norms to new
situations… Thoughtful enactment of a practice necessarily
involves making decisions about ways of knowing, ways of deciding
what is worth knowing, and ways of adding to a collective body of
knowledge and understanding. In learning to participate in a
practice, students internalize these ways of thinking, which they
are able to apply in other venues. ” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 1417)


- [ ] “Learning environments such as those described here, based on
professional learning practices and deliberately constituted
outside the traditional structure of schooling, suggest a way to
move beyond current curricula based on the ways of knowing of
mathematics, science, history, and language arts. Pedagogical
praxis asks us to imagine a system in which students learn to
work (and thus to think) as doctors, lawyers, architects,
engineers, journalists, and other knowledge workersFnot to train
them for these pursuits in the traditional sense of vocational
education but rather because learning to work in such professions
provides students with an opportunity to learn about the world in
a variety of ways that are fundamentally grounded in meaningful
activity and well aligned with the core skills, habits, and
understandings of a postindustrial society… pedagogical praxis
may be one way to return to Dewey’s intellectual program… in
another era of dramatic social and economic transformation
brought about by new technology.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 1418)


Shaffer, D. W. (2004). Pedagogical praxis: The professions as models for post-industrial education. Teachers College Record, 106(7), 1401-1421.

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