File spoon-archives/bourdieu.archive/bourdieu_2000/bourdieu.0004, message 17

Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 10:52:42 -0500
Subject: Re: Habitus and learning styles...

>>Is cultural capital a result of a persons' habitus?  Is a learning style
>>better thought of as cultural capital?

>Learning style, as cultural capital. Well, perhaps. Dont know, in an off
>hand way.

I definitely think that learning styles no matter how you cut them are
aligned with (possibly cultural and) symbolic capital.  For instance, look
at Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences.  These are:
logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinetic, linguistic, interpersonal,
intrapersonal, musical.  Now it seems to me that these can be ranked
according to their symbolic weight in a particular field.  Of course, you
don't possess one kind of intelligence to the exclusion of others, but some
are tended more and valued more in a field than others.  In engineering,
logical-mathematical and possibly spatial would certainly be valued more
than the others.  And something like intrapersonal (self-awareness) might
be overtly disdained.  

Or we can look at the popular Myers-Briggs personality instrument.  Women
have typically been more likely to score toward the feeling rather than
thinking  side of that particular scale (making decisions subjectively,
based on sympathy and more immediate view rather than making decisions
objectively, through analysis from an outside perspective).  I think it is
a learned learning style, first of all, and aligns pretty nicely with the
masculine domination thesis.  Also, clearly a thinking style is more
valuable than a feeling style in many academic disciplines.  I mean, look
at the triumph of the scientific method in social science, for instance!

I would carry it a step further.  If a teacher learns how to teach to a
variety of learning styles and feels comfortable doing so and then does it,
I think in many cases that teacher gives up capital and therefore power.
Some (old white guys) can afford to do so, others (everyone else) can't
afford not to.  

I get the same evaluations as the old white guy who lectures fiercely "my
way or the highway!" and my pedagogical approach is definitely more
constructivist and relaxed like Kent's.  The questions on the student
evaluation forms don't necessarily encourage this way of teaching, either.
For instance: "Does the instructor seem well-informed about the subject?"
Well, since I tell students if I don't know answers and also encourage
students who may know more about something than I do to speak up, I could
get a lower score on this question than the instructor who simply lectures
and insists on his transcendental rightness.

I'd be interested in further analysis.  In "Academic Discourse" the authors
(including PB) demonstrate a closed self-reinforcing system in which
instructor and student are trapped like flies in a web.  Typical of what he
is trying to demonstrate all over.  I think perhaps the look of the system
has changed a bit - more teaching styles are being used at least in my
field - but we are still trapped. I have to think more about it.


>My teaching style, as a univ. teacher, can be seen as a form of cultural
>capital, in some circumstances. ("Kent, you sure teach in a relaxed
>fashion".) It all depends on what you (as a writer) want to express, when
>you start talking about me as a teacher. What is the purpose of your
>thinking? Please tell us more. Help us elaborate on this.
>Kent Lofgren
>Dept. of Education
>Umea University
>S-901 87 Umea
Deborah Kilgore
Assistant Professor
Educational Leadership & Policy Studies
Iowa State University
N 232 Lagomarcino Hall
Ames, IA  50011-3195
office) 515-294-9121 email)


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