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Mucking in and mucking out: vocational learning in animal care

Salisbury, Jane and Jephcote, Martin John 2010. Mucking in and mucking out: vocational learning in animal care. Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (1) , pp. 71-81. 10.1016/j.tate.2009.09.018

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The paper draws upon empirical material from a two year qualitative research project. The paper briefly outlines the key research questions, research design and data collection strategies. The following sections draw on observational, interview and journal data from the learning sites and the teachers and students who work and learn in them are used to show how college-based learning (CBL) is also work-based learning (WBL). We argue that to differentiate between CBL and WBL in this particular case is unhelpful and three separate contexts are identified to show where learning typically occurs for students of animalcare. The discussion draws upon Lave and Wenger's ‘communities of practice’ and Fuller and Unwin's notion of ‘expansive learning environments’ to illustrate the ways in which full time students of animalcare undertake valuable real work (albeit mostly unwaged) on farms, in stables and in reptile houses. Characteristics of communities of practice, namely, recognition of distributed expertise, inclusive language and interactions, ways of communicating about animals and nurturing teacher–student and student–student relations are identified. We differentiate situated learning for vocational students and more fully acknowledge the work-based learning which actually occurs in college. The consensual, inclusive language identified in the two departments is briefly explored with examples of anthropomorphism used to illustrate the indexical way staff and students talk about animals. ‘Communities of practice’ is a useful metaphor for thinking about the particular learning cultures of the animalcare departments. Both departments are characterised by an ethic of care and staff go to great lengths to ‘look after the whole student’. What unites the students and their teachers is a real passion for animals. This is a prerequisite for winning a place on an AnimalCare course.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education
S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
Uncontrolled Keywords: Communities of practice; Expansive learning environments; Vocational education and training; Ethnography
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0742-051X
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:46

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