Professor Wolff-Michael Roth
Lansdowne Professor Applied Cognitive Science University of Victoria, Canada
Wolff-Michael Roth is conducting research on how people across the life span know and learn mathematics and science. He has contributed to numerous fields of research: learning science in learning communities, cultural-historical activity theory, social studies of science, gesture studies, qualitative research methods, embodied cognition, situated cognition, and the role of language in learning science and mathematics.
The invisible subject in the educational sciences
The crisis of education frequently is framed in terms of research method, where quantitative research is accused of making the subject invisible through quantification, whereas qualitative research is credited for the emphasis on subjectivity and the discursive construction of reality. Such formulations fail to take into account a long-standing critique that interpretive (constructivist) research, too, is placing its bets on a ratiocinating individual that makes invisible the real, living subject who is coping with an inherently open life. In this presentation, an argument is made for a concrete educational science concerned with the person in the fullness of her life, who is not only (agential) subject but also subject and subjected to the condition she contributes to producing. This subject never is in complete control over its condition, cannot ever know precisely what is currently happening, and at best witnesses rather than grasps or constructs what is going on. This viewpoint requires a rethinking of the subject in/of the educational sciences (i.e., topics and persons). Such a project of rethinking the subject involves shifting the minimum units of analysis: from (inter-) action to transaction, from an experience [Erfahrung] to inchoate lived-experiencing [perezhivanie, Erleben], from entities and processes to dramatic events.