Knowledge, activity and mediation : a critique of the 'knowledge economy' thesis and its implications for a social theory of pedagogy
This thesis is concerned with the educational response to the concept of the 'knowledge economy'. The thesis argues that: ri this concept, which originated in social and management theory, has been framed in terms of the Cartesian conception of the 'two worlds of knowledge': knowledge of natural and social structures and everyday knowledge; u these two worlds have been perpetuated in educational policy, for example, in curricula through a strong emphasis on 'knowledge' and 'skifis' and in pedagogy through the development of 'pedagogies of reflection'. Consequently, educational policy has: u missed that the knowledge economy is making the interdependence between the two worlds of knowledge more explicit in economic and cultural activity; u failed to appreciate that this development presupposes 'pedagogies' that support to overcome the two worlds of knowledge to respond to the challenges posed by the knowledge economy. The thesis argues that Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (hereafter CHAT) provides a conceptual framework for going beyond the two worlds of knowledge in social and management theory as well as in educational research, policy and practice. It explores this claim by arguing that Vygotsky's concept of mediation and its extension and elaboration by a number of post-Vygotskians and neo-Hegelians introduces a way of conceiving the relation between activity, thought, language and mind which does not split mind from world. It then uses this reformulation of the conceptual of mediation as a foundation to formulate a pedagogy of mediated activity which it maintains is the basis of overcoming the two worlds of knowledge and responding to the challenge posed by the knowledge economy.