Knowledge is socially and culturally constructed

Last weekend I participated in the AARE workshop “The Utility of theories in Educational Research” held in Charles Sturt University, Bathrust. After a bit of travel hassle  I arrived in Bathrust just in time to participate in the introductory session. Joanne Orlando, the convener of the workshop, opened the discussion with the topic My school website, and she asked the presenters of the different workshops to give their views about how each theory would contribute to the understanding of this social phenomena. The discussion was really interesting for me because I could actually listen to some different views not only on Myschoolwebsite, but a bit about a wide range of theories. (Theorising and researching policy ,Socio-Cultural Theory,Theory and Qualitative Research ,Professional Practice Theory,Globalization and Education,Foucault).

The next day I participated in the workshop of Sociocultural theory led by Dr Russell Cross from the University of  Melbourne. The methodology of the workshop was very appealing to me since it included lots of activities in which we could clarify our understanding about the topics presented and also tackle our own research. The group of participants was composed  by  PhD students either using SCAT or interested in it. It was very interesting to meet people doing different research project who share similar interests and who see the world and reality in a similar way. I felt quite confident about my understanding of the SCT so far, however, the questions I had in relation to the different emphasis of Activity theory are still there, and require more and deeper reading and analysis. The readings list was very useful.

On Saturday I attended the workshop about theory and qualitative research. This session was thought provoking and challenging. We discussed about reality and some theories of ontology, then we tackled some epistemological issues to end up with the method of inquiry> qualitative research. It was a very illuminating session that left me exhausted.

As a conclusion of the workshop, I can say that it was very refreshing and affirming . It has given me more food for thought and extra motivation to keep on going. Now I’m writing the abstract of the poster I want to present for AARE conference this year, editing a book review, and organising my readings and writing for the coming weeks.

In terms of ideas I’m going to use Mercer’s words to summarise what I have learned:

1. knowledge is not abstract, but a state of understanding constructed by every knowledgeable individual
2. knowledge is socially and culturally constructed
3. knowledge construction is always mediated and facilitated by cultural practices and artefacts.

Sociocultural theory describes and explains not just learning,but the process of teaching and learning. Social transaction is the fundamental vehicle for education.( Mercer N., 1993)


About Malba Barahona

Educational researcher, language educator. PhD from Australian National University. Passionate bushwalker and mountain lover. I procrastinate reading fiction, hiking, doing yoga, riding, having a beer and more recently decolonizing my existence. I write in English and Spanish in different blogs especially with the purpose of encouraging my students to write.


  1. vivazep

    ….through language, don’t forget. Like Maturana and Varela says, we are human being living in language. Every thing is said for an observer to another observer…

  2. Malba Barahona

    language is the tool of the tools!

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