How do we come to internalise practices?
How does one internalise practices into one’s repertoire?
- Someone gives someone else the order to make particular movements with his arm, or to assume particular bodily positions (gymnastics instructor and pupil). And here is a variation of this language-game: the pupil gives himself the orders and then carries them out.
Vygotsky's (1978). It goes as follows: 'Every function in the child's cultural development appears twice: first on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people..., and then inside people... All higher [mental] functions originate as actual relations between human individuals' (p.57)
Children come to internalize social speech for their own ends: 'Instead of appealing to the adult [for help], children appeal to themselves; language thus takes on an intrapersonal function in addition to its interpersonal use... The history of the process of the internalization of social speech is also the history of the socialization of children's practical intellect' (Vygotsky, 1978, p.27).
PI 243: A human being can encourage himself, give himself orders, obey, blame and punish himself; he can ask himself a question and answer it. We could even imagine human beings who spoke only in monologue; who accompanied their activities by talking to themselves.
Z 100: Let us imagine someone doing work that involves comparison, trial, choice. Say he is constructing an appliance out of various bits of stuff with a given set of tools. Every now and then there is the problem “Should I use this bit?” -- The bit is rejected, another is tried. Bits are tentatively put together, then dismantled; he looks for one that fits etc, etc.. I can now imagine that this while procedure is filmed. The worker perhaps also produces sound-effects like “hm” or “ha!” As it were sounds of hesitation, sudden finding, decision, satisfaction, dissatisfaction. But does not utter a single word. Those sound-effects may be included in the film. I have the film shewn me, and now I invent a soliloquy for the worker, things that fit his manner of work, its rhythm, his play of expression, his gestures and spontaneous noises; they correspond to all this. So I sometimes make him say “No, that bit is too long, perhaps another’s fit better.” -- Or “What am I to do now?” -- “Got it!” -- Or “That’s not bad” etc.
If the worker can talk - would it be a falsification of what actually goes on if he were to describe that precisely and were to say e.g. “Then I thought: no, that won’t do, I must try it another way”: and so on -- although he had neither spoken during the work nor imagined these words?
I want to say : May he not later give his wordless thoughts in words? And in such a fashion that we, who might see the work in progress, could accept this account? -- And all the more, if we had often watched the man working, not just once?
Z 101: Of course, we cannot separate his ‘thinking’ from his activity. For the thinking is not an accompaniment of the work, any more than of thoughtful speech.
Z 104: If he has made some combination in play or by accident and he now uses it as a method of doing this and that, we shall say he thinks. -- In considering he would mentally review ways and means. But to do this he must already have some in stock. Thinking gives him the possibility of perfecting his methods. Or rather: He ‘thinks’ when, in a definite kind of way, he perfects a method he has.
“But here again these actual social interactions can also take the Vygotskyan form of internalised deliberations that do not apparently involve others -- our deliberations seem to be entirely personal and self-determined - yet which obviously derive from previous conversations with others, in which their voices and perspectives are represented in one’s own internal deliberations. Often this dynamic is what we call ‘conscience.’” -- (Burbles and Smeyers, 2010, pg 180)
“The pupil must want to go on alone in taking language to the world, and that what is said must be worth saying, have a point (warning, informing, amusing, promising, questioning, chastising, counting, insisting, beseeching, specifying the location of pain, and so on), then is there some question left as to whether the pupil has to find warning, informing, amusing, promising, counting, beseeching, chastising, and so on themselves worth doing? If it is part of teaching to undertake to validate these measures of interest, then it would be quite as if teaching must, as it were, undertake to show a reason for speaking at all.” (Cavell, 2005, pg 115)
Which practices do we become part of? (back to top)
“If we want to engage people with some narratives that we consider more important than others (say, moral or aesthetic ones), a possible foothold could be found in the informal practices children find themselves involved in.” -- (Smeyers and Burbles, 2010, pg 196 - 197)
“In other words, it is easier to be a ‘tacit teacher’ within an ongoing community of practice, where one is not the only influence drawing learners into reflective participation; conversely, it is harder to be a ‘tacit teacher’ when a cacophony of other influences distract and compete with one’s own influence.” -- (Burbles, 2010, pg 212)
“Forms of life consist of a plurality of language games, ‘a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing.’ (PI, 66) ... It resembles a medley-like mixture or garland of practices somehow supporting or complementing each other.” (Kober, 1996, pg. 418)
“The artist and the scientist, the motorcycle repairman and the journalist, the lawyer and the chef, all bring tacit knowledge to their activities. Teaching across all discipline entail some tacit teaching, because all of these activities involve real-time problem solving adaptation, balancing conflicting demands, flexibility and guesswork.” -- (Burbles, 2010, pg 212)
“Finally, there are those narratives that can give rise to a more critical/reflective relation to a practice (which we want to call “education about a practice” and not just “education into a practice”), and how these can revitalise practices and promote a more liberating relation to them.” -- (Smeyers and Burbles, 2010, pg 197)
Rogoff (1995) explains this through the following stages.
- apprenticeship – “provides a model in a plane of community activity, involving active individuals participating with others in culturally organised activity that has as part of its purpose the development of mature participation in the activity by less experienced participants.”
- guided participation – “refers to the processes and systems of involvement between people as they communicate and coordinate efforts while participating in culturally valued activity. This includes not only the face-to-face interaction but also the side-by-side joint participation that is frequent in everyday life.”
- participatory appropriation – “with guided participation as the interpersonal process through which people are involved in sociocultural activity, participatory appropriation is the personal process by which, through engagement in an activity, individuals change and handle a situation in ways prepared by their own participation in the previous situation.”
“This is the process of becoming, rather than acquisition.” In other words, participatory appropriation occurs when one comes to value the guided participation and is confident and able to incorporate that practice into his or her personal repertoire. There is an emphasis on the need for mastery of practices and the embodiment/recognition of skills within practices, rather than the piecemeal participation in disjointed activity.
References (back to top)
- Burbles, N. (2010). Tacit Teaching. In M. Peters, N. Burbles, and P. Smeyers (Eds), Showing and doing: Wittgenstein as a pedagogical philosopher. (pp. 199 - 214). London: Paradigm Publishers.
- Burbles, N. and Smeyers, P. (2010). The practice of ethics and moral education. In M. Peters, N. Burbles, and P. Smeyers (Eds), Showing and doing: Wittgenstein as a pedagogical philosopher. (pp. 169 - 182). London: Paradigm Publishers.
- Cavell, S. (2005). Philosophy the day after tomorrow. In S. Cavell, Philosophy the day after tomorrow. (pp. 111 - 131). Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
- Kober, M. (1996). Certainties of a world-picture: the epistemological investigations of On Certainty In H. Sluga, H. and D. Stern (Eds.), The Cambridge companion to Wittgenstein. (pp. 411 - 441) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Rogoff, B. (1995). “Observing sociocultural activity on three planes: Participatory appropriation, guided participation, and apprenticeship. In J.V. Wertsch, P. Del Rio, and A.Alvarez (Eds.), Sociocultural studies of mind (pp.139-164). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Smeyers, P. and Burbles, N. (2010). Education as initiation into practices. In M. Peters, N. Burbles, and P. Smeyers (Eds), Showing and doing: Wittgenstein as a pedagogical philosopher. (pp. 183 - 198). London: Paradigm Publishers.
- Vygotsky, L. (1978) Mind in society: the development of higher psychological processes. M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, and E. Souberman (Eds.) Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Wittgenstein, L. (2001). Philosophical Investigations. 3rd Edition. Translated by G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
- _____________ (1967) Zettel. Edited by G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright. Berkeley: University of California Press.