This chapter offers an explanation of the processes of learning that arises through individuals engaging in writing and for professional development purposes. It proposes that this learning arises through mimetic processes (i.e. observing, imitation, practice and monitoring) that are central to the thinking and acting that comprise the act of writing. These mimetic processes are foundational to human cognition, meaning-making and engagement in and outcomes of participation in goal-directed activities, such as writing. The account provided here is aligned with how these processes are or can be directed to worthwhile and purposeful goals, such as professional development. In all, mimetic learning is founded on both inter-and intra-psychological processes. That is, how individuals engage with the world beyond them (i.e. inter-psychologically) and also their cognitive, sensory and neural processes (i.e. intra-psychologically) when enacting goal-directed activities. Central here are foundational human processes associated with cognition and how humans engage in processes of construing what they experience and constructing knowledge from them. Such foundations are helpful for considering how learning arises through engaging in writing activities, and as such its contributions to individuals’ professional development.
This introductory chapter discusses the development of considerations about learning through work and perspectives of workplace learning that are currently emerging through research internationally. A key purpose here is to map recent developments in thinking about learning through and for work. When one also considers individuals’ needs to be learners as workers as they seek to secure continuity and development within their working life and social world, such perspectives help to inform how we might best organise, shape and appraise the character and processes of learning through and for work. This concern is never more important than when such learning is conceptualised simultaneously as processes of both social reproduction and transformation and of individual development and change. The chapter provides a bridge between existing contributions to our understanding about learning through work and the contributions offered in the following chapters. In doing so, it seeks to identify the strengths and the limitations of existing perspectives through theoretical and empirical work by focussing on the interdependent relations between the individual and social world in the processes of learning through and for work. Thus, it also foreshadows the analytic categories: (i) learning about self and agency; and (ii) learning about work tasks, that shape the structure of the book. In advancing these two bases as being particularly salient for elaborating understandings about learning for working life, the chapter first outlines the scope of the emerging interest in learning through work, as well as some of the purposes for and conceptions of learning through work. Next, procedural and conceptual developments that shape and reshape considerations of workplace learning are discussed. The chapter concludes by offering some parameters for workplace learning as a duality between what the workplace affords learners in terms of opportunities and support, and how individuals engage with these affordances as they learn through their experiences.
Recent studies of learning through work have included how professional identities are formed through participation in work. However, we need a more elaborated understanding of how professional identities are negotiated at times of rapid change in working practices. This chapter examines the personal strategies that vocational teachers adopt, and the professional identity negotiations that occur, in response to requirements to change professional practices. We report on a study in which open-ended narrative interviews were conducted with sixteen Finnish vocational teachers. From the teachers’ accounts, we identified distinct personal strategies that were adopted to engage with change. The strategies were labelled as follows: (i) professional development, (ii) passive accommodation, (iii) active participation, (iv) a balancing act, and (v) withdrawal. The strategies were aligned to the teachers’ individual concerns, and were bound up with the personal resources available in negotiating with the changing character of the work. An account of these strategies offers a new way of understanding how identities are negotiated through an active, personally-shaped process. The study also illuminates how to promote individuals’ management of the self and of learning at work.
In their edited volume
Writing for Professional Development, Giulia Ortoleva, Mireille Bétrancourt and Stephen Billett provide a range of contributions in which empirical research, instructional models and educational practice are used to explore and illuminate how the task and process of writing can be used as tools for professional development.
Throughout the volume, two main perspectives are considered: learning to write professionally and writing to learn the profession, both for initial occupational preparation and ongoing development within them. The contributions consider a range of fields of professional practice, across sectors of education, starting from the premises that the role of writing as evolved in all occupational domains, becoming a key activity in most workplaces.
Contributors are: Cecile M. Badenhorst, Elena Boldrini, Esther Breuer, Inês Cardoso, Alberto Cattaneo, Peter Czigler, Jessica Dehler, Pauline Glover, Terri Grant, Jean-Luc Gurtner, Jacqueline Hesson, Ashgar Iran-Nejad, Rhonda Joy, Ann Kelly, Merja Kurunsaari, Xumei Li, Laetitia Mauroux, Heather McLeod, Elisa Motta, Astrid Neumann, Julian Newman, Sigrid Newman, Sharon Penney, Luísa Alvares Pereira, Sarah Pickett, Iris Susana Pires Pereira, Anna Perréard Vité, Arja Piirainen, Elisa Redondi, Sabine Vanhulle, Ray Smith, Kirk P. H. Sullivan, Linda Sweet, Païvi Tynjälä, Dorothy Vaandering, Rebecca Woodard, and Gabrielle Young.
There is a growing interest in understanding learning in and through work and its relationship to what is required to be learnt for effective and productive working lives. This book offers a range of emergent perspectives based on current research on learning through and for work. The common focus among these perspectives is to understand how individuals engage in and learn through their work. This includes how they learn about, manage and respond to change in their work and develop approaches and responses to learning in, through and for their working lives. The key contribution of this book is to provide insights to support learning throughout working life in order to sustain individuals’ capacities for effective, productive and enduring working lives.
Comprising 15 chapters the book offers perspectives from Finland, Germany, New Zealand and Australia and across a range of occupations and places of work. Individually and collectively these chapters make important contributions to learning about the self and agency at work and about learning work tasks.
The origins of this text were a desire to bring together the work of a group of recently completed and current doctoral candidates at Jyväskylä, Regensburg and Griffith universities. This goal has been achieved here as supported by collegiate activities among the editors, contributors and their colleagues.