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The 16th Annual Vernon Wall Lecture.
LEARNING AND DISCOURSE: A SOCIOCULTURAL PERSPECTIVE
Professor Roger Säljö, University of Linköping, Sweden
Introduction to the Lecture To be invited to be the Vernon.Wall Lecturer is to be in receipt of the highest honour that the Education Section can bestow on a fellow psychologist. Each year a distinguished psychologist is chosen because she or he has made an important contribution to the field of psychology within educa.tion. The Vernon. Wall Lecture is the centrepiece of the Section's Annual Conference and is our way of formally recognizing the work of the lecturer. We therefore felt very privileged when Professor Roger Säljö agreed to give the Sixteenth Vernon.Wall Lecture in 1996.
The strong position of psychology to studies in education in mainland Europe seems unassailable. In England and Wales the position is very different. We are now in an age when centrally appointed bodies like the Teacher Training Agency determine the curriculum for teachers in training. Teachers seem to be seen more as technicians delivering a curriculum. Säljö treated us to an erudite exposition of how learning and development can be understood within a sociocultural perspective. Such high level discussions about the nature of learning should be central to any teacher education course but they become increasingly marginalized in this country.
Säljö's treatise which argues that a sociocultural perspective on learning and discourse offers a framework for studying human learning, whereby the actions of individuals, both learner and teacher, are understood in their cultural, psychological and material contexts, highlights the need for us to have an educated teaching profession who are able to engage with these issues at a high level.
This lecture, which was so stimulating when delivered orally, makes equally fascinating reading. Teachers and psychologists alike will find it gives them great insights into the nature of learning. As such it is essential reading and we are most grateful to Professor Säljö for sharing his thoughts with us.
Chair, Education Section