What (and Where) is the ‘Learning’ When We Talk about Learning in the Home?

Julian Sefton-Green


In trying to address the vexed challenge of theorizing learning transfer to make sense of how we learn across social contexts and what learning might mean in more informal domestic circumstances, Stevens and his colleagues offer a series of detailed studies of gaming in the home (Stevens, Satwicz, & McCarthy, 2008). They argue that we need to look at the “dispositions and purposes” that people bring with them to experiences and then consider “what people make of experiences in other times and places in their lives” (pp. 63–64). Learning, they suggest, is the process of interpretation as people reach back and forth across experiences (and the meanings that have been attributed to them). Rather than focusing on the learning experience in isolation, we need to pay attention to how learners conceptualize, contextualize, and reflect on experiences and to what resources they use and draw on to do this. Stevens et al. suggest that only by developing methods that allow us to study people across and within a range of settings can we see how people actively juxtapose, reject, select, contrast, or build on experiences. The research focus then needs both an intrapersonal historical dimension, reflecting how individuals frame their experiences over time, as well as a way of describing the types of understanding involved—the language and values that circulate within those experiences.