The Critical and Historical View in Communities of Practice (CoP) for the Development in Education

The Critical and Historical View in Communities of Practice (CoP) for the Development in Education

Neli Maria Mengalli (Pontifical Catholic University – PUC-SP, Brasil) and José Armando Valente (Pontifical Catholic University – PUC-SP, Brasil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-878-9.ch019
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This chapter describes the training course for school managers for the use of information and communication technology (ICT) that was developed at Sao Paulo Pontifical Catholic University, (PUC-SP), Brazil. This was a blended course, using face-to-face and online activities, providing school managers with the experience of using ICT to share experiences, and to learn about effective ways of using ICT for school management. Even though the school managers had no previous experience with technology they succeed in changing their working reality and understanding the use of ICT to interact, exchange documents and organize their ideas. This experience has produced two other important results. One is the interaction that enables the formation of collaborative networks and partnership among school managers. Social and cultural practices were considered for analysis concerning the subjects that contributed to the creation of the ICT culture in the school. The authors have considered this network and the building of this community as the seed of a community of practice (CoP), as proposed by Wenger (1998a). Second, it was possible to see a close relationship between Wenger’s theory and Freire’s (2003) educational approach, which showed that social transformations are constructed on the basis of participants’ will and in the presence of leadership in a historic moment.
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Relationship Between Wenger’S And Freire’S Ideas

The work of Wenger (1998a) shows that the construction of an active and successful community depends on a person or a core group that assumes the responsibility for the development of the community. As self-organizable systems, the communities of practice (CoP) bring about collective learning and the professional qualification of its members, according to the interests of the institution and the will of the participants.

On the other hand, one of the aspects that differentiate the communities of practice (CoP) is how the connection is made because interest and geography for their own sake are not enough to gather people together. The important thing is working with shared practices and that such practices are accepted willingly. In this regard, Freire’s work can greatly contribute because it shows that social transformations come about based on the will of the participants and on the presence of leadership in a proper critical and historical moment (Freire, 2003). This willingness can be that of helping yourself and helping the institution solve its problems, a historic opportunity and a social meaning which justifies the time spent and the intimacy with the events, or the contradictions found in the context (Freire, 2003).

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