The world is changing faster than ever before. Recent advances in technology are constantly making old knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) obsolete while also creating new KSAs and increasing the demand for jobs that have never existed before. These advances place tremendous pressure on people to learn, adapt, and innovate in order to keep up with these changes. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) has been widely and effectively applied in various settings in the last four decades. This theory posits that learning is a proactive process, coming from the holistic integration of all learning modes in the human being: experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting. Learners must own and drive this process, because ownership of their own experiential learning process empowers learners to do far more than an external person—whether a parent, a teacher, or a friend—can accomplish. More than just a way to learn, experiential learning is a way of being and living that permeates all aspects of a person’s life. Given the demands of the fast-changing world we live in, what do individuals need to do to make sure they stay ahead of the change curve, remain fit with the changing environment, survive, and thrive? At the individual level, a number of important competencies need to be developed, including learning identity and learning flexibility. At the system level, learning and education as a whole must be treated differently. Education should be an abductive process in which learners are taught to ask different types of questions and then connect new knowledge with their own personal experiences. The outcome of education, likewise, should be adaptive and developmental. Instead of promoting global learning outcomes that every student needs to achieve, educators need to hold each student individually responsible for incrementally knowing more than he or she previously knew, and teach students not only how to answer questions but also how to ask good questions to extract knowledge from future unknown circumstances. Helping students foster a learning identity and become lifelong learners are among the most important tasks of educators in today’s fast-changing world.
Adult learning is described as learning undertaken by adults in natural educational settings as opposed to the experimental settings often undertaken in psychological research on learning. As such, the theory and research on adult learning referred to in this article primarily draws on applied educational research reported in adult education journals. Much of this research is informed by psychological and social research and theory, and this is acknowledged in each of six adult learning themes outlined in this article. These themes are self-directed learning, experience and learning, learning styles, the development of identity in the adult years, intellectual and cognitive development, and transformative learning. While these themes focus on adult learning in a general sense, our understanding of adult learning also needs to be seen in relation to the context in question; contexts such as health, the third age, indigenous knowledge, literacy and numeracy, the environment, disability, community education, gender equity, race, and migrant and refugee education. The literature on adult learning offers very few prescriptive bridges linking research, theory, and practice. This is partly because there are competing theories posing different questions and offering opposing interpretations of research findings, but it is also because the purpose and function of education and learning is a contested field. In these circumstances the best approach for practitioners is to interrogate and improve their practice through engaging with research findings, competing models, and competing theories. In this way they are aware of the variables at play and can formulate practices that are consistent with their educational aims and purposes. The link between research, theory and practice is conceptual rather than prescriptive, with practitioners interrogating and improving their practice by engaging with the issues and the competing claims of theory and research.
Learning and becoming are understood as emergent from participation in practices at the intersection of formal and informal science education. What learners value, engage in, and transform is understood as entangled with who they have been, think they are, and yet aim to become, calling for an intersectional lens to any analysis of learning and identity in science. Who one is and can become in science, given recognition by others as a science person, is political and a product of intersecting patterns of racism and sexism, to name two key dimensions, which are not additive but instead form a symbiotic relationship. Intersectionality foregrounds the structural, political, and representational of an oppressive system at work and is a lens essential to an equity- and social justice–driven conceptualization of science education at the intersection of formal and informal educational venues. Critical transdisciplinarity facilitates the unpacking of what science is and what kind of science a science person engages in, and it can move studies beyond paralyzing ideologies and meritocracies that undermine full participation in science by youth of color, for instance. Engagement with intersectionality, critical transdisciplinarity, and the political can make rightful presence a shared goal to work toward among science educators and researchers, a much-needed commitment in the informal science education field. Community-based educational spaces (CBES) challenge deficit discourses of youth and, instead, aim to build on youths’ funds of knowledge and identities through empowering practices. Identity work is approached through a grounding in practice theory, which calls for a focus on the figuring of worlds, lives, and identities. Becoming somebody in science is presented as a creative act by youth, who challenge what science is and who can become somebody in science. Actions by youth can make evident desirable identities that result in the “thickening” of their affinities with science, a process also charged by emotions. That is, intersectionality can be experienced as emotionally taxing, while agency and transformation by youth may result in positive emotions. A mobile view of learning and identity in science, captured by the notion of wayfinding, calls to attention hybridity, intersectionality, and critical transdisciplinarity. That grounding can move the study of learning and becoming in science beyond a binary vision of formal and informal science education while also making it political. A deeper commitment and engagement with social justice work in studies of learning and identity in CBES, a process well captured by the notion of rightful presence, could become a common goal to work toward in the vast field of science education, both formal and informal.
Karen Ida Dannesboe and Bjørg Kjær
Denmark has a long tradition of public provision of early childhood education and care (ECEC) as part of what is known internationally as the Nordic welfare model. Both traditions and transformations within Danish ECEC are parallel to the establishment and development of this model. The emergence of child-centered pedagogy, so characteristic for Danish ECEC, is part of specific historical processes. Since the 1960s, the ECEC sector has undergone significant expansion and in 2020, most children in Denmark between the ages of 1 and 6 attend an ECEC institution. This expansion has positioned ECEC as a core universal welfare service, including a special focus on preventing injustice and inequality and on taking care of the vulnerable and disadvantaged. Early 21st-century international discourses on learning and early intervention have influenced political reforms and initiatives addressing ECEC institutions and the work of “pedagogues” (the Danish term for ECEC practitioners with a bachelor’s degree in social pedagogy). Since the 1990s, there has been growing political interest in regulating the content of ECEC, resulting in various policies and reforms that have changed the nature of Danish ECEC by introducing new learning agendas. This has been accompanied by an increased focus on the importance of the early years of childhood for outcomes later in life and on the role of parents in this regard. These tendencies are embedded in political initiatives and discourses and shape the conditions for ECEC, perceptions of children and childhood, the legitimacy of the pedagogical profession, the meaning of and emphasis on young children’s learning, the importance of inclusion, and the changing role of parents. These changes in social reforms and pedagogical initiatives interact with national historical processes and international tendencies and agendas at different levels.
Lucas Monzani and Rolf Van Dick
Positive leadership is a major domain of positive organizational scholarship. The adjective “positive” applies to any leader behavioral pattern (style) that creates the conditions by which organizational members can self-actualize, grow, and flourish at work. Some examples of style are authentic, transformational, servant, ethical, leader–member exchange, identity leadership, and the leader character model. Despite the myriad constructive outcomes that relate to said positive leadership styles, positive leadership it is not without its critics. The three main criticisms are that (a) the field is fragmented and might suffer from conceptual redundancy, (b) extant research focuses on the individual level of analysis and neglects reciprocal and cross-level effects, and (c) positive leadership is naïve and not useful for managing organizations. Our multilevel model of positive leadership in organizations proposes that leaders rely on internalization and integration to incorporate meaningful life experiences and functional social norms into their core self. Further, through self-awareness and introspection, leaders discover and exercise their latent character strengths. In turn, positive leaders influence followers through exemplary role modeling and in turn followers validate leaders by adopting their attributes and self-determined behaviors. At the team level of analysis, positive team leaders elevate workgroups into teams by four mechanisms that shape a shared “sense of we,” and workgroup members legitimize positive leaders by granting them a leader role identity and assuming follower role identities. Finally, at the organizational level, organizational leaders can shape a virtuous culture by anchoring it on universal virtues and through corporate social responsibility actions improve their context. Alternatively, organizations can shape a virtuous culture through organizational learning.