RPL and the disengaged learner : the need for new starting points
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Roslyn Cameron
This chapter looks at aspects of recognition of prior learning (RPL) practice that relate directly to its failure to act as a mechanism for social inclusion for disengaged learners. It begins by outlining the background of RPL in Australia and presenting evidence from reports commissioned by the Australian Qualifications Advisory Board (AQFAB) and the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) as well as other Australian literature on RPL, to support the claim that RPL has failed to act as a mechanism for social inclusion. The limitations of current theories of participation are examined and Bernstein's notion of 'pedagogic rights' is used to show: some of the ways in which formal educational institutions and their RPL practices alienate working class students; that knowledge is differentially distributed to different social groups; and that these two features result in inequitable distribution of societal material resources. The chapter then turns to Bernstein's notion of the 'potential discursive gap' and argues that 'the majority of RPL practices in Australia are cumbersome, bureaucratic, lengthy, predominantly print-based and place great demands and expectations upon applicants'. The chapter concludes that the use of different models and approaches could assist the site of RPL to become less regulated and that explicitly embedding RPL within all courses and curricula would further open up the possibilities of the site, allowing it to facilitate a paradigm shift and to allow groups of disengaged learners the opportunity to have their learning and associated knowledges valued and legitimated.