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Learning from the margins

- analyzing learning, marginalization and directions of change.

Info about event


Monday 4 June 2012, at 09:00 - Wednesday 6 June 2012, at 16:30


Tuborgvej 164, 2400 Copenhagen, NV, Denmark


Department of Education, Aarhus University

Course provider: Department of Education, University of Aarhus.

Date: Summer 2012, two parts of three days. Four months between the two parts, where the students prepare papers for discussion in the second part. First part in June 4-6, second part October 3-5.

Deadline for applications:

Venue: Department of Education Aarhus University. Tuborgvej 164, 2400 Copenhagen, NV, Denmark

ECTS-point: 6

Course language: English

Limit: 18 participants

Professor Jean Lave is the founder of Situated learning theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Jean is also known for her important theoretical contribution within social practice theory. In Denmark and internationally her theories are used and have been challenging mainstream thoughts. Jeans early and latest work shows how she uses her own learning trajectory to highlight important challenges within theoretical development. These challenges are in the center of this course. Jean Laves latest book (2011) is about Apprenticeship in Critical ethnographic Practice.

Dr. Linda Graham is a senior researcher at the Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, Macquarie University, Australia. Her doctoral research investigated the relationship between educational policies, pedagogical practice and the increase in diagnosis of behaviour disorder, her research in inclusive education is informed by sociological and philosophical perspectives (continental and political philosophy). Her work is informed by the desire to better understand processes of inclusion and exclusion that lead to the marginalisation and pathologisation of children and young people.

Graham’s conceptual and empirical work has been to foster understandings of the role played by various discourses and practices of schooling in the description, identification and classification of children who are difficult to teach. Graham has articulated implications for educational theory, policy and practice, as well as regularly contributing towards social policy development and public debate. Her latest book (2010) is about (De)Constructing ADHD: Critical guidance for teachers and teacher educators.

Associate Professor Line Lerche Mørck, has been researching marginalized young adults and their everyday life, learning and transcending marginalisation. In her book Boundary Communities she develops a social practice theory of how you support learning and transcending marginalisation through overlapping communities which is constituted across ethnic and social differences. At present she is further developing the theory of expansive learning in boundary communities into areas of Danish productions schools, as well as inclusive education and doing collective memory work with mothers to diagnosed children.

Professor Klaus Nielsen has been critically researching the boundaries of legitimate learning situations. His research interests are learning in practice, which are displayed in his dissertation “Musical Apprenticeship – Learning as the Academy of Music as Socially Situated”, marginalization and the politics of learning. He has, furthermore, edited a special issue of Journal of Nordic Educational Research about “Apprenticeship – Learning as social practice” together with Steinar Kvale.

Associate Professor Dorte Kousholt has been researching dilemmas and social conflicts in the everyday lives of children and families. In various research projects she has followed children across different life context (e.g. across day care institution and home), and in different life situations (e.g. in general and special educational settings, as well as in residential institutions for children and parents considered in need for special help). Her ambition is to critically investigate and transcend the divides we set between ‘normal’ and ‘special’ with regard to children and family life.

The aim of this course is to discuss the relationship between learning, marginalization and change as part of social practice. In many respects, the social practice of schooling has been at the centre of our thinking about education, learning and social change. Lave’s work about situated learning offers an invitation to rethink our comprehensions of what counts as central and what counts as marginal when we address issues of learning. In the centre of conventional theories of learning stand notions of individuality, cognition, symbolic and theoretical manipulations, curriculums, and education. In the margins stand the body, everyday life, collective dimensions of learning and change, conflicts and contradictions in social practice and questions of marginalization.

The PhD. course will question the division between what we think is marginal and what is at the centre of learning theories, and theories and teaching practices of learning disabilities (e.g. related to ADHD). As a point of departure, this course will not take the division between margins and the centre (new disabilities and changes in boundaries to normality) as being a natural epistemological division but rather it will approached as a political (in the broad sense of the word) division deeply embedded in the way we think and do research about learning, development, marginalization, diagnoses (such as ADHD) and social change. The course will invite the participants to work with their own empirical analysis of learning (from the margin), change and development in practice as well as reflecting (their own) learning positions within the research community. The teachers of the course will outline how they use different social practice theory to analyze learning from the margins in practice. This includes discussions of how we as researchers become positioned and the kinds of contributions we develop when we question mainstream positions in educational research. We believe that these kinds of reflections can help Ph.D.-students becoming more reflected about their position and contributions in relation to mainstream as well as becoming more reflected to theoretical and practical alternatives to mainstream thinking.

The teachers of the PhD. course will present their own theoretical and empirical works where they will highlight how they have being struggling with analysis of learning (from the margins) within their empirical fields of everyday life, including apprenticeship, social work communities, work place learning, education and family. Together we will discuss issues of what counts as being marginal and what counts as being central when it comes to theories of learning, and how we can develop theory and practice from various boundary positions building up boundary communities which move beyond these divisions. The PhD. course will evolve around Jean Laves early and later works about these issues, Linda Grahams critical contributions to field of behavioural disorders and introduce recent Danish research contributions to these fields. The PhD. students participating in this course will be invited to discuss how these issues influence their work.

The PhD course will be divided into two parts: 3 days: June 4-6, 2012, and 3 days: October 3-5, 2012. The first part will address social practice theory of marginalization and learning, philosophical roots, as well as introduction to empirical analysis of learning from the margin. The second part focus on binaries in academia, researcher trajectories and researchers struggle to develop alternatives to traditions of theories of learning, dominating learning practice and diagnostics vs. normality discourse.

In the 4 month between the two parts, the Ph.D.-students have time to write 3-5 pages text, they discuss them as part of mutual feedback processes. The course form is 1) teacher presentation, 2) analytic workshops and feedback in plenum, 3) Writing and group-work sessions.

First part, June 4-6: (day 1-3):  9 AM to 4 PM

04.06.12: Day 1: Philosophical roots of Social Praxis theory and practice research.

9.00-9.30: Welcome and introduction to the course and the theme of the day.

9.30- 10.00: Jean Lave: Social Praxis theory: Philosophical roots, theoretical inspirations and challenges. (Lave, 2008).


10.30-11.00: Line L. Mørck discusses these philosophical roots of social practice theory in relation to practice research and in relation to understandings of practice development. (Bernstein, 1971, Mørck 2011, Khawaja & Mørck, 2009).

11.00-11.30. Klaus discusses philosophical roots and binaries within learning theories (Kvale, Nielsen, Lave & Packer).

11.30-12.15: question and discussion in plenum.

12.15-1.00: Lunch

1.00-3.00: Student writing, group work session: 30 minutes of writing time, reflecting on themes from presentations: philosophical roots in their theoretical approach in relation to their own projects/analysis. 1½ hour group work, discussing each others work and perspectives.

3.00-4.00: Plenum discussion of questions and these from the groups.

05.06.12: Day 2: Learning from the margin. Analytical frameworks, binaries and beyond.

9.00-9.15: Introduction to the theme of the day.

9.15- 10.00: Line L. Mørck: A social practice theoretical framework of marginalisation and learning which partly transcend marginalisation. (Mørck, 2006: chapter 1, Mørck, 2010, Kristensen & Mørck, 2011, Wenger, 1998).


10.15-10.45: Klaus Nielsen: Learning theory and marginalisation related to gender within the bakery (Nielsen, 2008).

10.45-11.30. Jean Lave: Commenting on Klaus and Lines ‘Learning from the margin’. Highlighting theoretical challenges and binaries at stake, comparing it to the tailor apprenticeship in Liberia (Lave, 2011).

11.30-12.15: question and discussion in plenum.

12.15-1.00: Lunch

1.00-3.00: Student writing, group work session: 30 minutes of writing time, reflecting on themes from presentations: Theoretical approach to learning and marginalisation, including binaries to work beyond in relation to their own projects. 1½ time of group work, discussing each others work and perspectives.

3.00-4.00: Plenum discussion of questions from the groups.

Dinner at 6 PM

Day 3: Empirical analysis of ’learning from the margin’ – across contexts.

9.00-9.15: Introduction to the theme of the day.

9.15-9.45: Line L. Mørck: Social street workers learning from the margin. (Mørck, 2011)

9.45-10.15. Learning in the bakery (Nielsen).

- break

10.30-11.45: Jean Lave commenting the empirical analysis of Line and Klaus, compared to analysis of learning among the Liberian taylor apprentices. (Lave, 2011)

11.15-12.15: question and discussion in plenum.

12.15-1.00: Lunch

1.00-3.00: Student writing, group work session: 30 minutes of writing time, reflecting on analysis of own empirical practice. 1½ hour of group work, discussing each others work and perspectives.

3.00-4.00: Plenum discussion of questions from the groups.

Part II: Three days, October 3-5 (day 4-6):  9 AM to 4 PM

Day 4: Researcher learning-trajectories, directions of change.

9.00-9.15: Introduction to the theme of the day.

9.15-9.45: Line L. Mørck: own researcher trajectory, directions of change and development related to communities of practice within research as well as social work practice (Mørck, 2011, Mørck et al, 2011).

9.45-10.15: Dorte Kousholt: Own research trajectory: Family work – normality and beyond  (Kousholt, 2012)

10.30-11.00: Linda Graham: Own researcher trajectory and changes

11.15-12: question and discussion in plenum.

12.00-1.00: Lunch

1.00-3.00: Student writing, group work session. 30 minutes of writing time, reflecting their own communities of practice; what is centre what is margins, how they work on challenging the mainstream. Reflecting directions for change. 1½ hour group work, discussing each others work and perspectives.

3.00-4.00: Plenum discussion of questions from the groups.

Day 5: Feedback session and transcending learning within fields of diagnosis

9.00-9.15: Introducing the day way of presenting and discussion

9.15-10: Linda Graham on: Teaching ADHD? – learning from a marginal position as ADHD.

10.00-10.30: Dorte Kousholt: Slope of Exclusion – when belonging to children’s communities is at stake


12.00-1.00: lunch

1.00-2.00: Linda Grahams: Feedback on selected issues from papers


2.00-3.00: Line Lerche Mørck: Feedback on central issues selected from papers

3.00-4.00: Plenum question and comments

Day 6. Analytical feedback on papers – furthering theoretical and empirical analysis:

9.00-9.15: Introducing the day way of presenting and discussion.

9.15- 10.15: Klaus: Feedback on central issues selected from papers

10.30-11.30: Dorte Kousholt: Feedback on central issues selected from papers


11.45-12.15: Plenum question and comments

12.15-1.15: Lunch

1.15-3.15: Student writing, group work session. 30 minutes of rewriting their texts of analysis. 2 hour group work, discussing each others analysis, and preparing questions for Linda, Line, Dorte and Klaus.


3.30-4.15 Questions and common discussions with Linda, Line, Dorte and Klaus

4.15-4.30: Evaluation

Preparation demands:
Students should have read the texts that will be provided as references prior to course start. Latest 1 month before the start of the course, the students send in 1 page, including their research questions, applied theories, and how long time they have left of their PHD. We use these to constitute students working groups. Preparations for the March session: All students write 3-5 pages of analysis. Line Lerche Mørck, Linda Graham, Klaus Nielsen and Dorte Kousholt will read 4-5 papers each, and give feedback and discuss issues from the student papers on day 5-6.


Bernstein, R. J. (1971). Praxis and action. Contemporary Philosophies of human activity. Ix-xv, 1-83.

Dreier, O. (2008). Psychotherapy in Everyday Life. Cambridge University Press. Chapter 1-2: p.1-38.

Graham, L.J. (2010). Teaching ADHD? (chapter 1) and "Thinking Pedagogically" (chapter 11). In Linda J. Graham (Ed). (De)Constructing ADHD: Critical guidance for teachers and teacher educators. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, pp. 1-19, x-y.

Graham, L. J. (2008). "Drugs, labels and (p)ill-fitting boxes: ADHD and children who are hard to teach", in: Discourse: Studies in the cultural Politics of education, Vol. 29, No. 1, March 2008, 85-106.

Khawaja, I. & Mørck, L. (2009). Researcher Positioning. Muslim ‘otherness’ and beyond. Qualitative research in psychology. 1-33.

Kousholt, D (in press for 2012). Family problems – Exploring Dilemmas and Complexities of Organising Everyday Family Life.  In Aronsson, K., Hedegaard, M., Højholt, C., & Ulvik, O.S. (Eds.), Children, childhood, and everyday life: Children’s perspectives. IAP – Information Age Publishing Inc.

Kvale, S. (1976). The psychology of learning as ideology and technology. Behaviorism, 4, 97-116.

Lave, J. (2008): Situated learning and changing practice. In Amin, A. & Roberts, J., editors, Community, economic creativity, and organization. New York: Oxford University Press. 283-296

Lave, J. (2011). Apprenticeship in Critical ethnographic Practice. University of Chicago Press.

Lave J. & Packer, M, (2008). An Ontology of Learning. Nielsen, K., Brinkmann, S., Elmholdt, C., Tanggaard, L., Musaeus, P., Kraft, G. (red.) A Qualitative Stance, Aarhus University Press, Århus.

Mørck, L. (2011). Studying Empowerment in a Socially and Ethnically Diverse SocialWork Community in Copenhagen, Denmark. ETHOS, Vol. 39, Issue 1, pp. 115–137.

Mørck, L. L. (2010). Expansive Learning as Production of Community. in Penuel & O’Connor (ed.): Learning Research as a Human Science National Society for the Study of Education, Volume 109, Issue 1, pp. 176–191

Mørck, Birk Carlsen, Cramer Jensen, Grøndahl & Nørgaard (2011). Collective memory work with mothers to diagnosed children. Paper at QI, Illinois 2011. (Videreudviklet til dansk artikel: Mørck, Birk Carlsen, Cramer Jensen, Grøndahl & Nørgaard (2011). Etik i social praksisteoretisk kollektivt biografi-arbejde med mødre til ’børn i vanskeligheder’, Nordiske udkast, 2011, nr. 2.)

Kristensen, K. & Mørck, L. L. (2011). Overskridende læring – ADHD-problematikken som eksempel. I: Christiansen, J., Specialpædagogik - en grundbog. Hans Reitzels Forlag. P. 113-125 (artiklen er ved at blive oversat til engelsk).

Nielsen, K. (2008), Gender, learning and social practice, Vocations and Learning, vol. 3 nr. 1, p. 173-190.

Nielsen, K. (2008), Learning, Trajectories of Participation and Social Practice, Outlines : Critical Social Studies, vol. 10 nr. 1, s. 22-36.

Nielsen, K. (2006), Learning to do things with things: Apprenticeship learning in bakery as economy and social practice, i Costall, A., Dreier, O. (red.) Doing things with things, Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot, s. 209-224.

Varenne, H., & McDermott, R. (1998). Successful failure: The schoolAmerica builds. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. V-xv, 1-21.

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of practice. Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter in chapter 7: p. 164-172.

Literature for further reading:

Dreier, O. (2008). Psychotherapy in Everyday Life. Cambridge University Press.

Responsible for the course: Line Lerche Mørck. llm@dpu.dk

Application: Completed application forms should be sent to: Laila Parbst, PhD Board of Studies, Danish School of Education, 164 Tuborgvej, 2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark. E-mail: phd@dpu.dk. Use application form from www.dpu.dk/phdcourses.