Fenwick T (2006) Learning as grounding and flying: Knowledge, skill and transformation in changing work contexts. Journal of Industrial Relations, 48 (5), pp. 691-706. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022185606070112
Before activities in workplace skill development and skill transformation can be pursued, what exactly is meant by `skill' requires careful examination. The notion of `skill' is far from consensual or accepted unproblematically, and this article is focused on the various meanings and problems that have arisen around `skill'. Four conventional conceptions of skill are examined critically and rejected: that a skill exists as a discrete competency, that a skill is `acquired' and is centered in the individual, that work skill (and knowledge) is learned through mental reflection on `concrete' experience, and that skill development is about behavior, not politics. Towards expanding conceptions of work learning, contemporary theories applicable to changing work environments are outlined: learning as participation in situated practices, as expansion of objects and ideas, as `translation' and mobilization, and as embodied emergence. Drawing insights from these four perspectives, a conception of work learning embedding a double movement of `flying' and `grounding' is offered. The argument is theory-driven and largely focused on work contexts subject to rapid knowledge transformation.
learning theory; participation; skills; workplace practice
Journal of Industrial Relations: Volume 48, Issue 5