Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Is there any illegitimate peripheral participation?

This book was a challenge for me for several reasons:

1. The writing seemed to go in circles, as soon as I had a handle on what Lave & Wenger were expressing, they would contradict the focus and say what they really meant. However, I did appreciate their efforts toward building an historical context for their terminology.

2. Why is it necessary to include the qualifier "Legitimate" to their theory of peripheral participation? I was continually looking for what might be considered illegitimate peripheral participation, and I didn't find anything. If they do discuss this, would someone please advise?

3. Throughout the book, they repeatedly state that apprenticeships should not be viewed as the only--or even the best--source for analyzing learning through peripheral participation, yet the only examples they offer are of apprenticeships! As with the term "legitimate" I was distracted by a nagging expectation that they would offer a non-apprenticeship example.

I hate to say it, but I really don't see what is new about this work except the terminology.

3 Comments:

Blogger gt said...

My understanding of “legitimate” peripheral participation is that the activities engaged in are “real” rather than merely exercises constructed to teach. It seems that the tailor apprentices were engaged in legitimate peripheral participation; whereas, the butcher apprentices, when learning unnecessarily how to sharpen knives or cut never-used commercial cuts of meat are engaged in illegitimate peripheral participation.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Annie,
I thought "legitimate" meant authentic and valid in the sense that you are learning and becoming part of a community of practice even in the beginning you just run errands. Aren't they saying that all the activities in which the particpant interacts builds toward going from newcomer to oldtimer?

I was totally distracted by the term LPP but in way I liked it because it seems like society only legitimizes "school" learning.

9:39 AM  
Blogger IB said...

The way I understood legitimate is that it means that the novice is allowed access to all resources and interactions that enable him to become a full participant in the community of practice. Illegitimate in this sense means that the novice is denied access to these resources (as gt explained with the butcher apprentices example).

I also think that Lave and Wenger write about apprentices only and I have problems in a) applying their concept to other learning situations and b) seeing the differences between their ideas and previous theories. (Sorry, I think this is the third time I write this :) but by now I am quite confused.

10:12 AM  

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