Not something out there

May 30, 2017 at 9:47 am Leave a comment

The Faculty of Educational Sciences and Psychology of URV has now a new space of intelectual inquiry: the study circle Education, Discourse and Society – EDiS.

We had our first work session on the 25/05 receiving Teun van Dijk. Teun used a rather informal and conversational tone to share decades of knowledge and experience in the field of linguistics. Although he is one of the very founders of Discourse Analysis, he told us he prefers to call it Discourse Studies, to avoid misconceptions like considering Discourse Analysis as a methodology that can be applied in the field of Education or Anthropology, for example. Discourse Analysis or Discourse Studies, if you may, Teun told us, is a field of research on it own. It is transdisciplinary because it is in constant dialogue with many other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, but it has its own contribution to make, its own methods and theoretical background.


Teun explained how Discourse Studies evolved as a need researchers felt to move beyond a Linguistics of text or sentences and approach the level of discourse and the discursive practices associated to it. In his own approach, Teun also brought insights from Psychology to understand how the notion of cognition is related to discourse. This is how he came to define the context and situations in which discourse is created, negotiated and enacted as a mental representation discourse participants hold of what is going on. In this sense, Teun argues, the context is not something out there, something that is happening and can be objectively described. Instead, each participant will have his or her own mental representation of context.


Many questions arise from our discussion with Teun van Dijk. Analyzing textbooks and the curriculum so that we ensure social equity and respect to cultural diversity is definitely a beginning, but there is more. In the field of education we intervene. So how do we design educational interventions taking into account that both the teachers and the students have different mental representations of what is going on? How do we help overcome stereotypical or sexist mental representations? How are we to change them any way if we do not fully understand how mental representations are created after all?

Food for thought, my friends. Welcome to the club =)


Entry filed under: EDiS.

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