Correspondence Discourses

Focus

Correspondence between objective fact and subjective understanding

Principal Metaphors

The specific metaphors of Correspondence Discourses vary from one theory to the next. However, broadly speaking, they tend to cluster around the following:
  • Knowledge is … external, objective truth
  • Knowing is … internal, subjective understanding
  • Learner is … a mental entity in a physical body
  • Learning is … internalizing
  • Teaching is … transmitting

Originated

Ancient (entrenched in the language)

Synopsis

Correspondence Discourses are perspectives on learning that assume a radical separation of mental (or internal, or brain-based) and physical (or external, or body-based) – otherwise known as:
  • Mind–Body Problem (Body–Mind Problem; Cartesian Dualism) – confusions, incongruities, and paradoxes that arise from the assumption that the mind and body are separate phenomena
This assumption of a separation sets up the need for a correspondence between what’s happening in the real, objective world and what’s happening in one’s inner, subjective world. Most Correspondence Discourses are developed around object-based metaphors (e.g., knowledge seen as a thing, a commodity, bits of information, a fluid, and/or a product/outcome). Consequently, learning is commonly interpreted as a discontinuous, accumulative process, of learning one thing and then the next. Typically, Correspondence Discourses rely on linear/direct imagery, rigid binaries/dichotomies/dualisms, and Newtonian mechanics (contrast with Coherence Discourses). Indeed, some associated discourses rely explicitly on Newtonian mechanical notions, including:
  • Logical Atomism (Bertrand Russell, 1920s; Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1920s) – the view that knowledge is the totality of discrete and non-reducible (i.e., atomistic) facts
Further, many Correspondence Discourses are developed around classification systems, taxonomies, and typologies that are based on multiple distinctions, and virtually all rely on the following processes:
  • Reification (Concretism; Hypostatization) – the conceptual shift involved when an abstract phenomenon (e.g., event, thought, concept, value, belief) comes to be treated as a physical object – that is, a form that one might infer is stable and knower-independent, and something that can be acquired, shaped, manipulated, measured, relayed, etc.
  • Literalization (Dead Metaphor) (Richard Rorty, 1980s) – the rendering literal of a figurative device, in a way that makes it difficult to be conscious of or to recover the original figurative meaning.
To illustrate, perhaps the most common instances of Reification and Literalization in discussions of learning are the notions:
  • Learning Objectives – specifications for learning that are typically used to frame lessons and select teaching approaches. As evident in this description, Learning Objectives are most often framed by the Acquisition Metaphor – that is, they are stated in terms of “getting some thing.” Common types of Learning Objectives include:
    • Behavioral Objectives – a term used by proponents of Behaviorisms to signal a preference for stating Learning Objectives in terms of observable and measurable behaviors
    • Performance Objectives – a notion used by proponents of Technology-Mediated Individual Learning to refer to criteria to be met by human users in order to proceed
  • Learning Goals (Learning Outcomes) – typically considered as broader that Learning Objectives, these are usually understood as more aspirational ambitions that are most often framed by the Attainment Metaphor – that is, they are expressed in terms of “getting some where.”
  • Learning Objects (Content Objects; Digital ObjectsEducational Objects; Information Objects; Intelligent Objects; Knowledge Bits; Knowledge Objects; Learning Components; Media Objects; Reusable Curriculum Components; Reusable Information Objects; Reusable Learning Objects; Testable Reusable Units of Cognition; Training Components; Units of Learning) – prominently associated with E-Learning, these are self-contained digital packets of information that deal with clearly defined topics. Typically, Learning Objects include elements of content, context, practice, and assessment, and common forms include podcasts, e-books, videos, and electronic presentations.

Commentary

Different Correspondence Discourses have different issues, but all rely on a troublesome mental/physical dichotomy.

Subdiscourses:

  • Behavioral Objectives
  • Learning Goals (Learning Outcomes)
  • Learning Objectives
  • Learning Objects (Content Objects; Digital Objects; Educational Objects; Information Objects; Intelligent Objects; Knowledge Bits; Knowledge Objects; Learning Components; Media Objects; Reusable Curriculum Components; Reusable Information Objects; Reusable Learning Objects; Testable Reusable Units of Cognition; Training Components; Units of Learning)
  • Literalization (Dead Metaphor)
  • Logical Atomism
  • Mind–Body Problem (Body–Mind Problem; Cartesian Dualism)
  • Reification (Concretism; Hypostatization)
  • Performance Objectives

Map Location



Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2021). “Correspondence Discourses” in Discourses on Learning in Education. https://learningdiscourses.com.


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