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This posting is posted to continue my previous posting about twelve principles that should be known by teachers. The fourth principle after need assessment, safety, sound relationships, and Sequence and reinforment is Praxis. It is a Greek word that means “action with reflection.” There is little doubt among educators that doing is the way adults learn anything: concepts, skills, or attitudes. Praxis is doing with built-in reflection. It is a beautiful dance of inductive and deductive form of learning. As we know, inductive learning proceeds from the particular to the general, whereas deductive learning moves from a general principle to the particular situation. Praxis can be used in teaching knowledge, skills, and attitudes as learners do something with the new knowledge, practice the new skills and attitudes, and then reflect on what they have just done.
Learning tasks (Vella, 2000) are not practice but praxis. If inductive, they invite reflection or action on particular instances by using new content. If deductive, they consider new content and work to apply it in new situations. In each case, praxis demands a hard look at content, the re-creation of it to fit a new context, and essentially the testing of it to prove its usefulness. Again, quantum thinking helps us fathom how each learner has to re-create the content through participation. They redesign the skills, knowledge, attitudes they are learning as they see them fit their context.
Praxis is an ongoing process, of course. We use it in our daily lives all the time as we do something, reflect on its implications, and change. In a learning situation, we can use case studies inviting description, analysis, application, and implementation of new learning—that is, praxis. When we set a group of adults to practicing a skill and invite them, as subjects, to analyze the quality of their practice, that moves practice to praxis. Zohar (1997, p. 148) shows that the questions we ask determine the kinds of responses we get. Such learning tasks give people the chance to practice new ideas, skills, or attitudes and immediately to reflect on them, thus making practice praxis.

Jane Vela, 2002

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