Reality By Design
The Rhetoric and Technology of Authenticity in Education
In the first paragraphs of this volume, the author identifies an "authenticity paradox": that the purported real-worldedness of a learning environment, technique, or task is so rhetorically potent that educators frequently call attention to it in pedagogical conversations to legitimize their undertakings, while at the same time, terms such as "real-world" and "authentic" do not require (and even resist) precise delineation.
Using the language of authenticity as a keyhole through which to view contemporary educational theory, Petraglia draws on theories of cognition, education, and knowledge to articulate the interdisciplinarity of "constructivism" and to expose the unsettling combination of constructivism's social scientific and epistemological commitments. He argues that a full-bodied embrace of constructivist theory requires that educators forgo "knowledge as we know it" and recommends a "rhetorical" approach to constructivist instruction that recognizes the cultural, social, and behavioral practices which play an enormous role in defining learners' "real worlds." Applying this critique to the field of educational technology, the author does not merely lament constructivist theory's current shortcomings, but offers a means by which these shortcomings can be engaged and, perhaps, overcome.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: Why an Interest in the Authentic? Under, Alongside, and On the Table: A Brief History of Authenticity in Education. The Cognitive Evolution. Constructivism and the Technology of Authentication. Constructivism Lost. Arguing and Educating. Negotiating the Real World: Conceptual Obstacles and Opportunities for Education. Conclusion: Slowing Down for the Rhetorical Turn.
"Petraglia has written an extraordinary book....it is uniquely important for his willingness to make implicit and troubling assumptions evident."
"I found this book refreshingly sensible....The writing is engaging and the images vivid. Readers interested in a thoughtful look at topics often presented superficially in education will find much to reread in these pages."
"In this truly interdisciplinary book, Petraglia makes a convincing case for the reasons teachers should regard themselves as rhetoricians who must invent and arrange compelling arguments, directed at an audience of students, about how and why their pedagogy and subject matter apply directly beyond the classroom."
"Like many good novels it has a twist in the tory, but unlike many good novels the twist is essential to the worth of the book....the book...is a challenging and stimulating read."
—British Educational Research, Journal
"If one is to implement genuine constructivist learning environments, the real challenge is to approach knowledge and knowing as something contingent....Reframing the traditional challenge of constructivism as a rhetorical challenge, we arrive at new and important insights. This book is illuminatingly provocative. [It] should be part of the intellectual arsenal of all those who design novel, constructivist learning environments, for those who design the technology for these learning environments, and for those who provide the philosophical, epistemological, ethical, and disciplinary foundations for such designs."
University of Haifa
"...an essential resource for understanding cutting edge developments in contemporary education. With abundant insight and acute attention to detail, Petraglia explains why rhetorical relations must replace cognitive process as the central focus of education. Nor is the case purely theoretical. Petraglia carefully links his case to emerging technologies, thus revealing its broad, practical consequences."
—Kenneth J. Gergen
"Educators should pay careful attention to Petraglia's critique....He argues convincingly that 'a rhetorical stance to education' fits well with a constructivist educational philosophy and in particular with the goal of authenticity. I believe that Reality by Design will prove indispensable in the ongoing debate over the role of computer technology in American education. Many educational theorists will disagree with Petraglia's conclusions, but they will not be able easily to dismiss his arguments."
Georgia Institute of Technology
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