Volume:6, Issue: 3

Dec. 15, 2014

Articles by #getArticle.ind_name#
Language and the contextualization of education in Africa
Mchombo, Sam [about]
A prevalent view about education in Africa is that it is, in many respects, “decontextualized.” Theories of education concur that learning marks a progressive shift from the known to the unknown. In this acquisition of knowledge gained through the processing of environmental input or external conditions cultural practices constitute a relevant parameter. However, formal schooling in Africa has, traditionally, been conducted with near total exclusion of the African culture and African systems of knowledge. Nasir (2012) notes that learning crucially involves “shifts in ways of understanding, thinking about concepts, and solving problems and closely related shifts in ways of doing or participating in activities” (Nasir, 2012: 17). Elaborating on that she highlights some of the current perspectives on learning that view it as “involving not simply transmission from the teacher to the learner (as a behaviorist perspective would view learning), but as involving cognitive processes of problem-solving, transfer, reflection, prior knowledge, and the development of expertise ” (ibid.). These cognitive processes do not develop outside of social or cultural context whose relevance to learning has been central to research in education. Recent scholarship in education has also highlighted how, in addition to involving cognitive processing, learning is “deeply intertwined with social processes and ways of participating in learning activities. This work has highlighted the fact that learning always involves an interplay between individual cognition and a socially and culturally organized learning setting, where learning is, in part, indexed by changing relations between people and increasingly sophisticated use of available tools for problem-solving” (ibid.)

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