Lately in several presentations I have (again) made the point, that we should see and think learning as a “knowledge creation”. I have also defined that:
“Learning is a socio-cultural process with an intention to produce artefacts.”
One selection of slides with audio is online in LeMill (see slide: 9).
People have asked me what do I mean with the “artefact”. The word artefact naturally comes from the Latin words: ars and factum. Ars means skill or method, and factum means deed or achievement.
Wikitionary give the following definition (third meaning) for the word artefact:
“Something viewed as a product of human conception or agency rather than an inherent element.”
When we learn we produce new artefacts. They are new artefacts for us. They are products of human conception, which we did not have before starting to learn.
When rethinking the idea of knowledge creation and intention to produce artefacts I have thought how does it fit to Jurgen Habermas’ theory of knowledge interests? He has present three forms of knowledge interests. These are:
1) Technological interest is related to work in modern societies. In the technological interest the aim is to produce technical knowledge to manipulate nature. The technological interest is closely related to the philosophical approach of positivism.
2) Practical interest is related to the language. The interest is to transfer the earlier generations’ knowledge for the new generation. The aim is to understand tradition. The practical interest is closely related to the philosophical approach of hermeneutics.
3) Emancipatory or liberating interest is related to power. The interest is to liberate people from social oppression and forms of domination caused by tradition and social structures. The emancipatory interest is related to the critical social theory.
The third interest is able to operate only through the first and the second interests which are producing objects (tools, documents, books, etc), but the emancipatory interest is guiding us when we choose what kind of technological knowledge and practical knowledge we will produce. (Reference)
Back to the issue of learning: Let’s agree that learning is a socio-cultural process of producing artefacts. Let’s also agree that artefacts are conceptualizations and representations of knowledge.
Now we may ask:
- What kind of artefacts people should produce while learning?
- Should learning focus only to (1) manipulation of nature and (2) transfer of tradition from one generation to another?
What do you think?