Thursday, 24 July 2014

Discussion from the first seminar

Here is the slide presentation made by Ria Vosloo. She gave a comprehensive summary of the work of Karl Maton and others on knowledge, and the implications for epistemological access.

Presentation on the work of Karl Maton, epistemological access and social justice from Brenda Leibowitz

Those who attended the seminar were convinced that issues of knowledge and access to knowledge are key to a research project on social justice in higher education. This framework was said to be a useful 'toolkit' for analyzing curriculum and even classroom practice. There were some questions, however, about whether this line of thinking is sufficient to pave the way for students to gain 'access' to knowledge. Are constructs such as legitimation code theory able to pave the way for lecturers to successfully induct students into powerful knowledges and academic practices? This is especially the case when some writers in the same fold as Maton, for example Wheelahan, are rather critical of more experiential approaches to teaching and learning.  (see Lisa Wheelahan, 2012, Why Knowledge Matters in Curriculum: A social realist argument. Routledge.)

What do others think? 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

First SOTL@UJ Seminar: Maton - The link to epistemological access

The SOTL at UJ - Towards a Socially Just Pedagogy has its first seminar on Thursday 17 July at 11.00 am in tutorial room 4, UJ Library. Ria Vosloo is going to talk about how the work of Maton on the Legitimation Code Theory is useful for discussions on "epistemological access", the term popularized by Wally Morrow to refer to students' access to knowledge and thus academic success, as opposed to mere physical access to higher education institutions (Morrow, W (2007) Bounds of Democracy: learning to teach in South Africa. Cape Town: HSRC Press). The abstract follows below.

Abstract for Ria's presentation

Maton – The link to epistemological accessWhen trying to understand knowledge and knowledge practices, it is not enough to only consider knowing. Knowledge is both social and real. A social realist view on knowledge includes both the relations to knowledge and the relations within knowledge.  Carl Maton (2014, p. 11) states this quite elegantly that “knowledge practices are both emergent from and irreducible to their contexts of production –the forms taken by knowledge practices in turn shape those events”. 
Maton’s Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) provides a conceptual toolkit and framework to analyse and describe knowledge and knowledge practices. LCT draws on the work of Basil Bernstein and Pierre Bourdieu.  It is important to realise that LCT has been developed over many years, and that arguments presented in previous work may have been refined or extended in later work. This building of knowledge has occurred through what Maton (2010) refers to the as coalitions of the mind where the sharing of information in a specific epistemic community influences the building of new knowledge and knowledge practices. In turn, the sharing of the specific knowledge created by Maton also influenced the building of new knowledge by other members of the epistemic community.
 Understanding what knowledge is created, pedagogised, taught and learned has implications for social justice. When considering a socially just pedagogy there are two aspects of Maton’s (2014) work that immediately comes to mind. The first is that understanding and describing the knowledge and knowledge practices is an important part of considering epistemological access. This is then linked to the second aspects: that of recontextualising the knowledge through selection, arrangement and transformation to become pedagogic discourse.   

Maton, K. (2010). Canons and progress in the arts and humanities: Knowers and gazes. Social realism, knowledge and the sociology of education: Coalitions of the mind, 154-178.

Maton, K. (2014). Knowledge & knowers: towards a realist sociology of education. Routledge.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Presentation on teaching and learning at South African universities - a social justice approach

Brenda Leibowitz presentation at UNISA on higher education and social justice from Brenda Leibowitz

A presentation made at the University of South Africa on social justice is one example of the kinds of issues and theoretical standpoints we wish to explore during the SOTL@UJ - towards a socially just pedagogy project.

One of the purposes of this project is to facilitate open debate about what social justice in relation to teaching and learning may mean. Any suggestions would be welcome. In addition to short comments, you can send longer contributions to Brenda Leibowitz ( or Phuleng Motshoane