Review – Situated Learning

Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation, Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger. Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Learning is a social activity, not a pouring of knowledge from one person to another. The thesis of this book is that when people want to learn something new, they need to be legitimate peripheral participants. Their efforts need to be accepted as valid (not make-work); they can’t do the central part; they need to participate in an environment where they can learn from others. This is all tied to the notion of there being a community of practice in which they can participate and grow. They back their analysis up with several case studies of more and less successful apprenticeship. I think the concepts they’re advocating are important; read this book if you want deeper background. (Reviewed Feb., ’04)