Research article

Learning about learning: a conundrum and a possible resolution

Author
  • Ronald Barnett

Abstract

What is it to learn in the modern world? We can identify four learning epochs through which our understanding of learning has passed: a metaphysical view; an empirical view; an experiential view; and, currently, a learning-amid-contestation view. In this last and current view, learning has its place in a world in which, the more one learns, the more one is aware of counter positions and perspectives. Here is a conundrum for learning here becomes a kind of un-learning. This learning calls for the development among students of certain kinds of dispositions and qualities. These dispositions and qualities provide resources that enable students to venture forwards to enquire in a world in which every position and every perspective is subject to contestation. Learning here becomes the formation of a radical-butactive-doubt. Such a view of learning for the twenty-first century points to a poverty in the notion of 'learning outcomes', if learning is incessant but self-doubting enquiry. This learning has no outcome except the continuing formation – largely a self-formation – of the student's being. This view of learning opens the way for possibilities in curricula and pedagogy, possibilities that both unsettle students but which also help them to develop the inner resources to go on learning in a difficult world.

Keywords: LEARNING, LEARNING EPOCHS, BEING, BECOMING, DISPOSITIONS, QUALITIES, PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING

How to Cite:

Barnett, R., (2011) “Learning about learning: a conundrum and a possible resolution”, London Review of Education 9(1), 5–13. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/14748460.2011.550430

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Published on
01 Mar 2011
Peer Reviewed
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