Institutional and Societal Constraints Impacts On Learning

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Institutionaland Societal Constraints Impacts On Learning

Learningis the process of gaining knowledge about various issues that affectsour lives and wellbeing. The learning takes place each day of ourlives at any place and time. Learning takes place in two ways. Thereare the formal learning and informal learning. In most cases, theformal learning is got from various learning institutions, whichindeed have set rules and regulations on how the running takes place.Various tests are set to help in gauging whether the student is readyfor the next learning sequence or not. Institutions therefore have abigger influence on formal learning and development of thesestudents. On the account of the informal learning, this takes placewithin our social context (Nafisi,3).This form of learning is based on the societal norms and beliefs ofvarious communities across the world. The teaching of the culture andnorms that any society holds dear are indeed made possible throughinformal learning. Here, there is no need either for a classroomwhich would mean that they can be done any place a house, under atree or as people interact in the societal setting (Davidson,5).This paper looks into the impacts that the societal and institutionconstraints have on learning processes of various individuals. itgives much attention to the factual connotations of how these twosets of learning have impacted on the growth and development ofvarious students across the world. Notably, this research uses theconnotations from two articles that dwell on the institutional andsocietal learning. The articles ‘ProjectClassroom Makeover’ byDavidson and ‘LolitaIn Tehran’ byNafisi and Liquidated:an ethnography of Wall Streetby Karenareused in strengthening the arguments from this research by givingattention to the various impacts of both the societal andinstitutional learning on the students’ lives.

Fromthe readings of LolitaIn Tehran, Nafisiis keen to explain learning as the grasping of knowledge that wouldhelp one in understanding their society. The societal norms andcultural beliefs are at the center of learning. They tend to narrowthe mindset of the students in understanding how best to uphold theirculture and make sure it is not tampered. When Nafisi mentions thatshe took a photo with her female students who were at that timewearing the long dresses and their faces covered, it gave much waitto cultural connotation of learning as a basic theme for gainingknowledge “Inthe first, there are seven women, standing against the white wall,they are, according to the law of the land, dressed in black robesand head scarves, covered except for the oval of their faces andtheir hands” (Nafisi,2).Fromthis excerpt, it is evident that to Nafisi, learning is all aboutunderstanding the laws of the land. It therefore constrains thestudents in that they are only allowed to explore the ways of theland without understanding other aspects of knowledge. Davidson onthe other hand perceives learning as a process where variousinstitutions impact knowledge into the students through a well setcurriculum that they are to follow closely. An institutionallearning, as Davidson puts it, is a place where there is a widevariety of knowledge to be grasped but the institutions has therights and obligations to control the type of knowledge to be shareto the students. This notion is seen in the quote “Wewould not control the results. This is an educational experimentwithout syllabus. No lesson plan. No assessment matrix rigged to showthat our investment had been a wise one….”(Davidson,2).Fromthis connotation, it is evident that one of the impediments that theinstitutions bring to learning process is the fact that they narrowdown to specific type of knowledge that is deemed to routinely andmakes the students not to be autonomous in their thinking. Karenasserts that the lack of autonomy in learning therefore creates someconstraints. The inception of the syllabus, the work plan, and theassessment matrix makes the learning quite rigid. The two articlesare indeed keen to bring out both the “institutionaland the societal constraint to learning”form the perspectives of the definition of learning (Ho,3).

Inthe context of learning environment, the institutional and societalsettings differ in various ways as postulated in the three articles.In the social setting, Ho (5) maintains, “theclassroom is a house which is still confined and cannot accommodatemany people.”The accommodation here is because there are less resource that couldbe used by the bigger number of students (Davidson,2).On the other hand, institutional setting as shown by Davidson ondescription of Duke University can accommodate many students fromvarious faculties. Ho (3) connotes that one of the constraints thatis seen as an impediment to learning “isthe notion of competition for limited resources”.The high number of students in the formal learning environmentdisallows proper grasping of knowledge where many students will begiven one lecturer to teach them. The societal setting on the otherhand has inadequate resources to contract a good classroom forteaching making learning quite bad difficult. Additionally, whenNafisi says “Theyare all women – to teach a mixed class in a privacy of my home istoo risky, even if discussing harmless works of fiction” sheunderstands the predicaments that comes on board on societal termswhen youths at their adolescence are mixed (Nafisi,3).She acknowledges the distractions that the social aspects of lifebring to the learning process. The inception of the classroom makesover by the institution of Duke to the student also has a similareffect of creating high levels of distractions while carrying outlearning. The fact that they have embraced technology and are nowusing the I-Pod sets in a series of distractions from class thatwould reduce the level of concentration of these students, as theywill be listening now to music instead of learning.

Thereare certain benefits that come with formal and informal learning.Nafisi says that “YetI suppose if I were to go against my own recommendation and choose awork of fiction that would most resonate with our lives in theIslamic Republic of Iran……” (Nafisi,5).Inthis quote, we can deduce that one of the main reasons of learning isto ensure that we get the students to learn more about the ways ofthe land. The fact that Nafisi confesses the she would simulate theculture, the norm and the ways of life of the Iranians into thefiction for learning purposes strengthens the continuity in upholdingof the culture of these people. On the account of formal learning,Davidson proclaims that the real tenets of learning entailsstretching of the limits and gaining the knowledge on the variousplatforms in order to be a responsible person in life. when Davidsonaccentuates that “……tryingto understand more of the intellectual habits of the new generationstudents and providing a unique space where those new talents mightflourish ……”he clearly states the importance of institutional learning (Davidson,3).The institutions therefore have good resources that would help thesestudents to access the needed learning materials with ease. Forexample, the classroom makeover brought out here acts as a reallysignificant step in unveiling the new form of learning. Additionally,Ho (4) asserts, “intensecompetitiveness in the learning environment prepares students wellfor the working environment.”

Inthe context of creativity development, the students in theinstitutions, due to high competition in getting what the lecture issaying, have resorted to recording these lectures and watching themat the comfort of their homes. The technological advancement seen inthe 21stcentury has enabled use of the various storage devices, which helpthem get the best out of these universities. The constraints in theinformal learning impede the creativity of the students. Thesestudents are confined to the learning concepts about religion. Themoral stance of the whole context of learning is strengthened by theprecepts of culture. It is therefore quite important to understandthe propagation of various facets of reasoning as students in linewith the culture than with the real life (Nafisi,8).

Inconclusion, both the informal and formal learning as postulated inthe articles have numerous constraints to the learning process.Autonomy is lost in the process of these types of learning. Not muchis learnt due to high level of competition and limited resources. Thestudents also must follow certain curriculum and precepts, which makethem, think narrowly and not exhibit high sense of autonomy. It istherefore important to enhance this type of learning embracing aself-directed learning process, which is not merely rooted inculture.


Davidson,Cathy N. Nowyou see it: How the brain science of attention will transform the waywe live, work, and learn.Viking, 2011.

Nafisi,Azar. ReadingLolita in Tehran: A memoir in books.Random House Incorporated, 2008.

Ho,Karen. Liquidated:an ethnography of Wall Street.Duke University Press, 2009.

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