Influences on transformative learning
The constructivist perspective draws attention to the fact that the subject is an active part in the construction of meanings about the reality that surrounds him. Instead of a passive view of the individual who ‘receives’ the interpretation of reality from others, the constructivist perspective emphasizes the participatory role of the individual in the construction of these same interpretations. In this way, the construction of reality is a constant activity that is marked by novelty and change and not by conditions already defined at the outset. Check out for detail here www.eleapsoftware.com
According to this theory, there is an innate predisposition on the part of the individual to make sense of the world around him. Thus, conception determines perception, because the individual knows reality by acting on it. Knowledge is not a mere copy of reality, being first and foremost a social artifact, as it constitutes the need for individuals to make sense of the reality that surrounds them. This perspective highlights the competence of the individual in the construction of meanings, being a paradigm that accentuates the subject’s capacity for autonomy.
This perspective has its origins at the beginning of the 20th century, emerging as a response to the impact of industrialization on society, and particularly to the need for creation and specialization of manpower. In this context, the progressive movement understands that progress has to be based on the interconnection between education and democracy. Two authors stand out above all from this current: John Dewey and Eduard Lindeman. According to these authors, education should promote continuous growth and development throughout life, thus contributing to the construction of a democratic community. Education must therefore emphasize the active role of the individual in the learning process.
However, the biggest influence on transformative learning is the importance of reflection. Reflection is closely linked to the analysis of individual experience, as it is from this that the individual identifies the meaning and common interpretations of the social context that surrounds him, allowing strategies to be taken with a view to transforming individual and collective behavior. Education must, therefore, start from the reflection on the subject’s experience. However, for the progressive current, individual and society are intimately interconnected: thus, reflection leads the individual to realize the importance of the influences of a historical and cultural nature that mark him. This analysis of past experience therefore contributes to social action and transformation and to the construction of a democratic society.
Habermas’s Critical Theory
In the preface to the work, Transformative learning Dimensions of Adult Learning , Mezirow (1991) presents the different influences on his conceptualization of transformative learning, clearly denoting the influence of Jurgën Habermas’ critical theory, particularly on the constitutive interests of knowledge, as well as on the ideal conditions for rational discourse. According to Habermas (1971) knowledge results from different types of interests: technical , practical , and emancipatory .
The technical interest focuses on the resolution of cause-effect relationships, being a form of knowledge in which the individual relates to the environment/ context that surrounds it. In this type of interest, knowledge is constructed in reference to the outside world, and there is an objective reality that can be identified through the scientific method. This perspective is rooted in Enlightenment and Positivism, where science is seen as holding the answers to understanding the globality of the world, thus eliminating all interpretations based on assumption, myth, or belief.
Habermas’ critique of this type of technical-instrumental rationality is related to this attempt to constitute itself as an explanation par excellence of reality, seeking that all knowledge fits into that same type of rationality. “The natural sciences have lost part of their function of supporting an image of the world in favor of producing technically applicable knowledge.” (Habermas, 1987, p. 6). In this same sense, Schön’s criticism (1983, 1997) fits the limits of technical rationality, a perspective that has been very accentuated, particularly in research on teacher training. Therefore, Habermas associates this type of interest with domination, a situation that must be questioned, as will be described later, by the emancipatory interest.
If the technical dimension of knowledge is characterized by objective action, practical interest is characterized by subjective action, where the individual relates to others .. The practical interest of knowledge is marked by the search for consensus among different individuals. “If the validity of technical rules and strategies depends on empirically correct analytical analysis, the validity of social norms is founded only on the inter-subjectivity of the mutual understanding of intentions and based on the general recognition of obligations.” (Habermas, 1971, p. 92).
Inter-subjectivity guarantees that this knowledge is not entirely subjective and arbitrary, as it is the result of a consensus between different people, requiring subjects to interact and share a set of meanings. It is in this sense that Habermas attributes an essential role to rational dialogue in validating meanings. In spite of the fact that in this type of knowledge people understand each other mutually, this understanding can, however,
It is through the emancipatory interest that the subject frees himself from contextual, institutional and egocentric forces: this knowledge is identified with self-knowledge or self-reflection. This type of knowledge is related to the power, because it is through emancipatory knowledge that the individual emancipates himself from the various types of domination that limit control over his life, acquiring his self-determination through self-reflection.
Critical reflection thus assumes a central role in the construction of emancipatory knowledge. Critical-emancipatory interest involves the ability to be critical in relation to oneself and in relation to the surrounding socio-cultural reality, through the process of personal questioning and questioning the world. These various forces (ideologies, prejudices, psychological distortions, etc.) limit the subject’s rational control over his own life, perpetuating relationships of dependence. Through emancipatory knowledge, the individual is able to better understand himself, others and the environment that surrounds him.
For Habermas learning theory, rational discourse assumes a central role in the validation of meanings, Mezirow sharing this same conception. For the reason, the evidence and arguments that support certain ideas are analyzed: in this way, the strength of a certain idea is no longer related to authority, tradition, or imposition. “The meaning of terms, and the understanding of the meaning of those same terms, cannot be separated from the inherent relationship of language to the validation of those statements. itself is true.” (Habermas, 1984, p. 276). Participating in rational dialogue requires mutual recognition, and tacit consensus, of fundamental norms, values and rules.
Paulo Freire’s literacy work with the illiterate populations of Latin America had a profound impact on diverse adult education experiences in different parts of the globe. Particularly in Portugal, the popular initiative movements born and developed in the period after the 25th of April were based on Paulo Freire’s concept and experiences of popular education (Melo and Benavente, 1978). Freire (1970) verifies that people, in the literacy process, learn better if the words are loaded with political meaning and are in close relationship with the situation of oppression in which these same people live. In this sense, the objective of critical reflection is to make people “deeply aware of the sociocultural reality that shapes their lives,
For Freire, the process of becoming aware of the structures of oppression, which involve the individual, is called conscientization. From his experience with the populations of the Third World, Freire considers that the process of conscientization is characterized by four stages:
1) intransitive conscience, where people are only concerned with satisfying their most elementary needs, not being able to discern another type of concerns beyond the biological ones;
2) semi-intransitive consciousness, where there is a culture of silence and repression and life is understood through notions such as fatality, or destiny, and where the oppressed internalize the values and conceptions of those who oppress them;
3) semi-transitive consciousness, where people begin to be able to question their lives and realize that sociocultural reality is determined by the human being;
4) awareness, where individuals are able to engage in a dialogical process of questioning and validating social norms, cultural codes, and ideologies. One can see the proximity between some of the characteristics of transformative learning and the awareness process. However, according to Freire, this process cannot be limited to raising awareness: it leads to awareness of the need for collective action to intervene against structures of injustice. where individuals are able to engage in a dialogical process of questioning and validating social norms, cultural codes, and ideologies. One can see the proximity between some of the characteristics of transformative learning and the awareness process.
However, according to Freire, this process cannot be limited to raising awareness: it leads to awareness of the need for collective action to intervene against structures of injustice. where individuals are able to engage in a dialogical process of questioning and validating social norms, cultural codes, and ideologies. One can see the proximity between some of the characteristics of transformative learning and the awareness process. However, according to Freire, this process cannot be limited to raising awareness: it leads to awareness of the need for collective action to intervene against structures of injustice.
Based on the legacy of the progressive current, the perspective of critical reflection observes that it is necessary for the subject to realize the sociocultural reality that surrounds him. If it is true that the person is marked and shaped by the sociocultural context, however, he has the main responsibility to “relate new ideas and experiences with existing knowledge as well as share this new knowledge in order to justify and validate it”. them.” (Garrison, 1992, p. 146). Critical reflection means the ability of the individual to be able to realize his assumptions, being available to analyze other alternative perspectives of interpretation of reality.
Critical learning reflection is not necessarily more exhaustive than non-critical reflection; reflection becomes critical when a person becomes aware of the hegemonic presuppositions that guide and limit their action (Brookfield, 1995; Mezirow, 1991). Critical reflection must, therefore, be based on the subject’s experience, as it is not only through this experience that the individual uncritically acquired various presuppositions (Brookfield, 1998), but it is through this same experience that the person is confronted with disorienting dilemmas that lead you to critically reflect (Brookfield, 1995; Cranton, 1996). There is a close relationship between this perspective and transformative learning, with critical reflection being a key dimension in the transformative learning process.