Learning out of school and the concept of authority

Felicity Wikeley, Kate Bullock, Yolande Muschamp, Tess Ridge

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    This paper is developed from a wider study of the learning that takes place in out-of-school activities. Here we focus on the educational relationships between adults and young people that happen in what are often perceived as leisure pursuits. Educational relationships tend to be hierarchical in nature (Edwards, 2001) and are fashioned by community and institutional cultures (Osborn et al., 2003) but it is the interactions, both implicit and explicit, between individuals that form the basis of our interest. It is acknowledged that the likelihood of learning is enhanced if it takes place within a ‘community of practice’ (Lave & Wenger, 1998) but Roth and Lee (2006) argue that classrooms can never be constructed as genuine learning communities as they lack a collective intent or purpose and free choice in terms of engagement and contribution. By exploring with young people, the learning that happens in their out-of-school activities we identified how these activities matched Roth and Lee’s criteria in ways that schools cannot. The voluntary nature of not only their own engagement, but also that of the adults, was important to the young people. A more flexible perception of expertise was created as the young people became skilled members of the group and were able to contribute their greater knowledge and understanding of the activity to new members. In many of the activities the young people saw the adults as co-learners. In this paper we use the concept of authority (Wilson and Cowell, 1990; Steutel and Spieker, 2006) to understand and explain the skills young people gain from their engagement in out-of-school activities and suggest how such understanding can be used to better advantage in the classroom
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    Event12th Biennial Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction - Budapest, Hungary
    Duration: 28 Aug 20071 Sept 2007


    Conference12th Biennial Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction
    Abbreviated titleEARLI 2007
    OtherDeveloping Potentials for Learning
    Internet address


    • Educational relationships
    • Leisure activities
    • Learning


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