YRJÖ ENGESTRÖM HELD THE "JOHN DEWEY LECTURES" IN RENNES, FRANCE
From November 19 to November 22, Yrjö Engeström held the invited "John Dewey Lectures" at University of Western Brittany in Rennes, France. The topic of the lecture series was "Concept Formation in there Wild as Educational Challenge: An Activity-Theoretical Research Program". The abstracts of the four lectures are below.
BUILDING A THEORETICAL CONCEPT THROUGH EMBODIED ACTION
The first lecture begins with an introduction to the idea of and relevant approaches to concept formation in the wild (Engeström & Sannino, 2012) as a challenge to education. Concept formation has traditionally been seen as a process in which students acquire well-defined scientific concepts determined by the curriculum. However, in the lives of both children and adults, concept formation is today increasingly a challenge of making sense of ill-defined phenomena, such as ‘global warming’ or ‘financial crisis’. Concept formation is therefore becoming an open-ended creative endeavor characterized by uncertainty, debate and continuous change. If this type of concept formation is ignored in schools, they risk becoming increasingly alienating and artificial environments for the concerns of students, parents and teachers.
To illuminate and analyze such processes of concept formation in the wild, the lecture then presents in detail a case of forming a new theoretical concept of ‘sustainable mobility’ in the home care of the elderly in the city of Helsinki in Finland (Engeström, Nummijoki & Sannino, 2012). The case demonstrates the process of ascending from the abstract to the concrete with the help of a ‘germ cell’ of the new concept. It also shows how physical bodily action and theoretical concept formation are intertwined and dependent on one another.
AGENTIVE FUTURE-MAKING IN MUNDANE INTERACTIONS: CRITICAL ENCOUNTERS AS SITES OF CONCEPT FORMATION
The second lecture analyzes collaborative concept formation as agentive future-making. ‘The idea of ‘critical encounter’, based on Vygotsky’s principle of double stimulation, is introduced and modeled as generic site of future-oriented concept formation. Related to Gutierrez’s notion of ‘third space’, a critical encounter is an event in which two or more relevant actors come together to deal with a problem that represents a potentially shared object and conflict of motives. In such a critical encounter, there is both complementarity and tension between the actors. To resolve the problem, the actors typically use mediating artifacts and draw on available source domains to take volitional action and to conceptualize the situation. Critical encounter is a potentially powerful lens for examining and reshaping educational practices.
To examine the potential of the notion of critical encounter, the lecture applies it to an analysis of 26 videotaped home care encounters in which the nurse and the patient face the challenge of implementing a new toolkit practice of supporting the client’s physical mobility. The analysis identifies actions of transformative agency and rudimentary future-oriented concept formation in the encounters.
CONSTRUCTING COMMON GROUND: MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING ACROSS CULTURAL DIVIDES
The third lecture analyzes the possibility of gaining mutual understanding between culturally different groups of people, a foundational challenge to education in a globalized world. Cognitive models of intersubjective understanding, such as Herbert Clark’s theory of ‘common ground’, emphasize the mental and discursive aspects of mutual understanding. The lecture argues that this is not enough; focus needs to be shifted to the role and potential of shared material objects as sources of intersubjective understanding. ‘Common ground’ needs to be reconceptualized in terms of real objects between the subjects.
The lecture analyzes the formation of materially based common ground between two groups of builders of wooden boats, one located at the Bay of Bengal in India, the other one in Helsinki, Finland. The two groups have radically different educational and cultural backgrounds, they use very different tools and their boats are built for different purposes. The builders were asked to look at photos of the other boat building site and comment on them. Our analysis shows that they began to build mutual understanding by focusing on their shared object, the wooden boat. Common ground emerges as the generalized material object between the two groups, constructed by means of identifying salient differences, dimensions of difference, questions, comments on relationships, and comments on historical conditions.
FORMATIVE INTERVENTIONS FOR COLLECTIVE CONCEPT FORMATION
The fourth lecture analyzes the potentials of conducting formative interventions in collective activity systems to enhance the formation of future-oriented and practically effective theoretical concepts. The methodology of formative interventions in introduced as a way to support and rigorously analyze change efforts aimed at collective concept formation (Engeström, 2011). The lecture builds on data from Change Laboratory interventions in three schools, one in Finland (Engeström, Engeström & Suntio, 2002), another one in Botswana (Virkkunen & al., 2012), and the third one in Russia. The three cases represent bottom-up local efforts at school change in different cultural contexts.
In each intervention, the participating teachers created a new concept and model for the zone of proximal development of their school. The lecture analyzes the contradictions, expressions of transformative agency, and epistemic learning actions involved in the formation of the new concept in these three cases.
Engeström, Y. (2011). From design experiments to formative interventions. Theory & Psychology, 21, 598-268.
Engeström, Y., Engeström, R. & Suntio, A. (2002). Can a school community learn to master its own future? An activity-theoretical study of expansive learning among middle school teachers. In G. Wells & G. Claxton (Eds,), Learning for life in the 21st century. Oxford: Blackwell (p. 211-224).
Engeström, Y., Nummijoki, J. & Sannino, A. (2012). Embodied germ cell at work: Building an expansive concept of physical mobility in home care. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 19(3), 287-309.
Engeström, Y. & Sannino, A. (2012). Concept formation in the wild. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 19(3), 201-206.
Virkkunen, J., Newnhamn, D. S., Nleya, P. & Engeström, R. (2012). Breaking the vicious circle of categorizing. Learning, Culture, and Interaction 1(3-4), 183-192.
TENTH ANNUAL HISTORICAL MATERIALISM CONFERENCE IN LONDON, 7.-10.11.2013
PhD Student Heli Kaatrakoski participated in the Historical Materialism Conference in London in November 2013. Among many excellent sessions the most interesting for her was "Activity Theory: from Lev Vygotsky to Evald Ilyenkov", chaired by Adam Hanieh. The presentations were: Alex Levant and "The subject of activity theory: A CHAT with Ilyenkov", Vesa Oittinen and "Vygotsky and Ilyenkov on Spinoza's Significance for and Analysis of Mind", Peter Jones and "Vygotsky - Marxism and Pavlov's reflexology", and Brech de Smet and "Labor Struggles in Sadat City: Workplaces in/of Revolution".
In addition, during the conference Heli had an informal International Friends of Ilyenkov (IFI) meeting with Corinna Lotz. The objective was to plan the coming face-to-face meeting in Helsinki and plan other future steps including the outcome of the IFI reading group.
NEW BOOK BY JAAKKO VIRKKUNEN AND DENISE NEWNHAM
Jaakko Virkkunen's and Denise Newnham's book THE CHANGE LABORATORY - A Tool for Collaborative Development of Work and Education has been published by Sense Publishers, 2013. Link to SensePublishers >>
CALL FOR SHORT PAPERS
EGOS Colloquium 2014: sub-theme 61_Activity Theory and Organizations
Dear Friends and Colleagues, We are looking forward to receiving interesting short paper proposals to the forthcoming sub-theme 61: "Activity Theory and Organizations" taking place in the 30th European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS), in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, July 3-5, 2014. Please view the description of the sub-theme 61 >>
Submission period for short papers for the 30th EGOS Colloquium 2014: Started: September 16, 2013 Ends: Monday, January 13, 2014.
Please note the Guidelines and criteria for the submission of short papers >>
Convenors of the sub-theme 61: Activity Theory and Organizations, Yrjö Engeström, Anu Kajamaa & Zlatko Bodrožić
YRJÖ ENGESTRÖM'S INTERVIEW IS AVAILABLE
The Cultural-Historical Activity Theory and its contributions to Education, Health and Communication.
Yrjö Engeström is interviewed by Monica Lemos, Marco Antonio Pereira-Querol & Ildeberto Muniz de Almeida.
- Link to the interview in written form >>
- Link to the video interview (part 1) >>
- Link to the video interview (part 2) >>
NEW BOOK EDITED BY PÄLVI RANTALA AND CRADLE'S DOCTORAL STUDENT SATU-MARI JANSSON
TAITEESTA TOISEEN. Taidelähtöisten menetelmien vaikutuksia. (Book's title in Finnish.)
INVITATION TO KOHAUS-SEMINAR
Learn more about network collaboration
Viewpoints for research and development of network concepts
Date and Time: 21 Nov 2013, at 9 am–2.30 pm
Target audience: Researchers and developers of HR, work and work life
Location: Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Topeliuksenkatu 30, Helsinki, auditorium
Video connection in FIOH Oulu (Aapistie 1), Kuopio (Neulaniementie 4),
Lappeenranta (Laserkatu 6), Tampere (Uimalankatu 1) and Turku(Lemminkäisenkatu 14-18 B)
Language: English and Finnish
What kind of know-how does network collaboration require?
How do networks affect professionals' well-being?
How can concept changes be supported by research and development?
Come and listen to the findings of the Kohaus study and discuss R&D network collaboration issues! You can also hear about the experiences of the UK and France (Prof. Anne Edwards, the Oxford University and Marianne Cerf, Research Director, INRA).
The seminar is free of charge.
Program and registration no later than 18th November.
For more information regarding the subject and the Kohaus study click here: Kohaus (in Finnish).
We welcome you to join us!
DR SUSAN DAVIS AND PROFESSOR RODOLFO VILELA VISITED CRADLE AFTER THE HELSINKI SUMMER SCHOOL ON ACTIVITY THEORY AND FORMATIVE INTERVENTIONS
Dr Susan Davis is a Senior Lecturer from the School of Education and the Arts from CQ Univerisity Australia. After the summer school she stayed in CRADLE as a visiting scholar to work specifically on exploring the cycle of expansive learning for deliberately creative intervention. She met with CRADLE scholars to discuss data and concepts arising from school-based drama and digital technology projects. At present she is experimenting with reinterpreting a model called 'Rolling Role' - one developed by legendary drama teacher Dorothy Heathcote. Sue has also been collaborating with CRADLE PhD candidate Satu-Mari Korhonen on exploring the application of CHAT and Developmental Work Research to applied theatre contexts. They are collaborating with other scholars on editing a book entitled "Dramatic Interactions in Education".
Professor Rodolfo Vilela, School of Public Health, Sao Paulo University, stayed on as a post-doctoral visitor in CRADLE after the summer school until the 25th of September. He networked with CRADLE scholars to collaborate further on with his project Work accident: From socio technical analysis towards social construction of changes. His aim is further to apply Activity Theory and Change Laboratory Intervention methodology in accident analysis and prevention in Brazil. He collaborates with CRADLE affiliated researchers Laura Seppänen from Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and Dr Marco Querol from Universidade Federal do Parana, in order to plan and organize a workshop which takes place in November, 6-8 in Brazil.
ECER (EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH) - 2013
Annalisa Sannino chaired the symposium Concept Formation of Learners' Agency as Challenges to Educational Research in the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) that took place from the 9th to the 13th of September 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey.
The symposium included the following papers:
Double Stimulation, Concept Formation and Agency in the Experiment of the “Meaningless Situation” by Annalisa Sannino and Anne Laittinen
Critical Encounters as Sites of Concept Formation and Agentive Action: A Study of Home Care Visits by Yrjö Engeström, Jaana Nummijoki and Anu Kajamaa
Supporting Transformative Agency and Concept Formation of Horticultural Producers Moving towards Collective Pest
Management by Irene Vänninen and Marco Pereira Querol
Non-Literate Indian Boat-Builders: Vernacular Engineering and the Rigor of Reality by Swapna Mukhopadhyay
Discussant: Bernard Schneuwly from Université de Genève, Switzerland
At the same conference one other researcher from CRADLE, Monica Lemos, presented the following paper in the session Innovating and Re-Signifying in Teacher Education:
Mediating Artifacts in the Creative Chain: Agency innovating educational management.
For more information access: http://www.eera-ecer.de/ecer-programmes/print/conference/8/chair/57584/
VISITING SCHOLARS MARIA TORRES-GUZMAN AND ISABEL CUEVAS IN CRADLE FROM 27.9 TO 1.10
Torres-Guzman is a professor in the Teachers College, Columbia University and Cuevas a researcher in the Department of Psychology and Education, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.
THE FOURTH HELSINKI SUMMER SCHOOL COURSE ON ACTIVITY THEORY AND FORMATIVE INTERVENTIONS - AUGUST 2013
The fourth Helsinki Summer School on Activity Theory and Formative Interventions course was organized by the CRADLE at the Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki 6-22 August 2013. The course was led by Annalisa Sannino and coordinated by Monica Lemos. The course was attended by 30 participants coming from 16 countries.
EARLI (European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction) CONFERENCE- 2013
Doctoral students Hongda Lin, Monica Lemos, Maria Safronova, Yuri Lapshin and Martin Kramer participated in the 15th Biennial EARLI Conference in Munich, Germany from 26 to 31 of August . Martin Kramer and Monica Lemos organized the symposium Activity- theoretical studies of educational change, Maria Safronova was the chairperson and Professor Susanne Weber from LMU Munich, Germany was the discussant.
Martin Kramer presented the paper titled Needs and activity – on the concepts of needs in Self Determination Theory and Activity Theory; Maria Safronova and Yuri Lapshin presented the paper Collective Agency Formation for Changing Teacher Interaction in School; Monica Lemos presented the paper titled Concept Formation of Educational Management; and Hongda Lin presented the paper Exploring the potential of an interventional tool for school improvement.
Doctoral student Giuseppe Ritella organized the symposium Dialogical approaches for analyzing group collaboration chaired by Sanne Akkerman and discussed by Rupert Wegerif. In this symposium Ritva Engeström presented the paper titled A challenge to the conceptualization of “shared objects” in innovation-oriented partnership andGiuseppe Ritella, Beatrice Ligorio & Ileana Pietanza presented the paper The process of sensemaking in group collaboration across multiple conversations, among other two paper presentations.
Doctoral student Antti Rajala co-organized two symposia and presented an individual paper. The first symposium - organized together with doctoral student Jaakko Hilppö - was titled Researching Extended Spaces of Learning in Formal Education: A Nordic Perspective. The second symposium - organized together with Dr. Jenny Arnold (Australia) was titled Understanding and Promoting the Agency of Children in Classrooms and in Everyday Life. As part of the second symposium, he presented a coauthored paper titled: The manifestation of relational agency in social interactions in extended spaces of learning. The individual paper presentation - coauthored with Annalisa Sannino - was titled: Disruptive dynamics of students’ interpretation of a learning task: an activity-theoretical analysis.
For more information access: http://www.earli2013.org
Impedovo, M.; Ritella, G.; Ligorio, M. B. (2013) Developing Codebooks as a New Tool to Analyze Students' ePortfolios. International Journal of ePortfolio, 2013, Volume 3, Number 2, 161-176.
Virkkunen, J. and Newnham, D. (2013) The Change Laboratory. A Tool for Collaborative Development of Work and Education. SensePublishers.
Lemos, M., Pereira-Querol, M., Almeida, I. (2013) The Historical-Cultural Activity Theory and its contributions to Education, Health and Communication: interview with Yrjö Engeström, Interface - Comunicação, Saúde, Educação.
Toiviainen H., Kerosuo H. (2013) Development Curriculum for Knowledge-Based Organizations: Lessons from a Learning Network, International Journal of Knowledge-Based Organizations.
Pereira-Querol M., Seppänen L., Virkkunen J. (2013) Exploring the developmental possibilities of environmental activities: On-farm biogas production, Environmental Science and Policy.
Vetoshkina L.P., Goryunova L. N. (2013) The main ideas of activity-theoretical concept of expansive learning and development of Y. Engeström. Cultural-historical psychology, 13-20. [Rus]
Rainio, A. P., & Marjanovic-Shane, A.(2013). From ambivalence to agency: Becoming an author, an actor and a hero in a drama workshop, Learning, Culture and Social Interaction.
Engeström, Y. & Sannino, A. (2013). Volition et agentivité transformatrice: Perspective théorique de l'activité [Volition and transformative agency: An activity-theoretical perspective]. Revue Internationale du CRIRES: Innover dans la Tradition de Vygotsky, 1(1), 4-19 (in French).
This article is published in a new journal devoted to cultural-historical research, Revue Internationale du CRIRES: Innover dans la Tradition de Vygotsky. The journal is accessible at: http://ojs.crires.ulaval.ca/index.php/ric
Teräs, M. 2013 Kulttuurinen esteettömyys [Cultural accessibility]. Teoksessa M. Laitinen (toim.) Miksi joka paikkaan pitää päästä? (95-112). Helsinki: Kansanvalistusseura.
Teräs, M. & Kilpi-Jakonen, E. 2013. Maahanmuuttajien lapset ja koulutus.[Children of immigrants and education] Teoksessa T. Martikainen, P. Saukkonen ja M. Säävälä (toim.), Muuttajat: Kansainvälinen muuttoliike ja suomalainen yhteiskunta (184-202). Helsinki: Gaudeamus.