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Telling identities: In Search of an Analytic Tool for Investigating Learning as a Culturally Shaped Activity

By Anna Sfard and Anna Prusak


In this article, we make an attempt to operationalize the notion of identity so as to justify the claim about its potential as an analytic tool for investigating learning. According to our definition, identity is a set of reifying, significant, endorsable stories about a person. The subsequent analysis of the dynamics of narratives makes it clear that identities, even if individually told, are products of a collective storytelling. Our main claim is that learning may be thought of as closing the gap between actual identity and designated identity, two particular sets of reifying significant stories about the learner, endorsed by this learner. The theoretical substantiation of this assertion is accompanied by vignettes from a study in which mathematical learning practices of a group of 17 year old immigrant students from the former Soviet Union newly arrived in Israel were compared to those of native Israelis

Year: 2005
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