Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

The Role of Interpretative Communities in Remembering and Learning

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

The Role of Interpretative Communities in Remembering and Learning

Article excerpt

Abstract

Students' memories and learning strategies are situated in their social relationships, political orientations, cultural meanings, worldviews, and historical experiences. This study uses qualitative research methods to investigate how Canadian students remember and learn about the War on Terror. It deals with the narratives of ninety-nine students studying in an urban university of Ontario. I find that apart from textual resources, remembering and learning involve a collectivity of significant 'others' or what I call interpretative communities. These communities play an influential role in the consumption and negotiation of knowledge inside and outside the classrooms thus an understanding of their role may help teachers to enhance their instructional strategies.

Key words: Canada; remembering; interpretative communities; narratives; learning.

Resume

Les souvenirs des etudiants et leurs strategies d'apprentissage se situent dans leurs relations sociales, leurs orientations politiques, leurs significations culturelles, leur vision du monde, et leurs experiences anterieures. Cette etude utilise des methodes de recherche qualitatives pour etudier comment les eleves canadiens se souviennent et apprennent a propos de la guerre contre le terrorisme. Elle traite les recits de 99 etudiants qui etudient dans une universite urbaine de l'Ontario. Je trouve qu'en dehors des des sources textuelles, se souvenir et apprendre impliquent un ensemble d'<> significatifs, ou ce que j'appelle des communautes interpretatives. Ces communautes jouent un role influent dans l'utilisation et la negociation des connaissances a l'interieur et l'exterieur de la salle de classe ; ainsi, une comprehension de leur role peut aider les enseignants a ameliorer leurs strategies d'enseignement.

Mots cles : Canada, se souvenir, communautes interpretatives, recits, apprentissage.

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   Dealing with the biases of media, it has become hard to inform my
   own paradigm on the issue of the War on Terror. However, with the
   help of class discussions in my high school, I was able to form an
   educated opinion that through the process of invasion the United
   States has achieved ulterior motives. The great need of oil is the
   underlying issue in this War on Terror and l firmly believe that
   the U.S government under George Bush has been a greedy association.
   Therefore, the knowledge I gained through television and
   peer-to-peer classroom discussion has impacted on my opinion.

This statement is taken from a narrative written by a first year university student, which is a part of a research project that investigates how Canadian students remember and learn about the War on Terror. This participant's memories are not ready-made reflections of the events of the war, but eclectic and selective reconstructions based on subsequent actions and perceptions (Lowenthal, 1985), or what he calls "my own paradigm on the issue of the War on Terror." He symbolizes and classifies the world around him through a complicated process of negotiation, and selectively reconstructs a narrative of the war based on his perception. This perception is the result of an intersection between his agency, information available through digital sources and an influential community inside his classroom "peers". In several respects, this quote represents other 98 narratives included in the study and provides evidence that the processes of remembering and learning appear to be distributed among the participants as active agents, technologies of memory and a collectivity of significant 'others' or what I call "interpretative communities."

These communities play an influential role in shaping these students' narratives of the war in particular ways. This article focuses on the role of different interpretative communities whose worldviews, historical experiences, and frameworks of interpretation influence students' memories and learning strategies and implications of their role for both teaching and learning. …

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