Monash University, Australia
Thesis: The Appropriation of Scientific Concepts of Systemic Functional Linguistic Genre Pedagogy in the Practicum of Pre-service Teachers in Indonesia
Research supervisors: Dr. Thi Kim Anh Dang, Dr. Minh Hue Nguyen

Cultural-historical psychology and activity approach have been nebulously informing the way I see the intricateness of teacher learning development. As a novice researcher in his first year of PhD program, I am highly motivated to join ISCAR Summer University 2019 based on three following reasons.

First, one of the weakest links in my understanding of cultural-historical psychology and activity approach is in terms of methodology for researching appropriation, the topic of my PhD research. I hope to be able to learn it comprehensively in this program. Not only in the specific aspect of methodology, I also aspire to deepen my understanding on the appropriation levels of scientific concepts so I can dedicate the rest of my professional years studying it with better informed direction. Levels of appropriation of pedagogical tools as stratified by Grossman, Smagorinsky, and Valencia (1999) have not been discussed sufficiently to elucidate how the pedagogical tools, such as concepts in linguistics and second language acquisition, should be appropriated and presented, so apprentice or pre-service teachers can better use the tools to teach. It is said that in the level of ‘achieving mastery’, it is almost impossible to have this while the pre-service teachers are still in the training program. Is it impossible? Or is it even possible? Hopefully by joining ISCAR, this topic can be proposed as a discussion trigger.

Second, I am honestly in need of answers in the fundamentals of cultural-historical psychology and activity approach. I would love to get answers on fundamental questions through engaging in discussion as a curious less intelligent person on the topics related to this psychology school of thought. The very question that I have been asking in the last six months is whether cultural-historical psychology and activity approach can offer exemplifications of each concept and claim introduced in the books of Vygotsky and books as well as articles written based on the work of Vygotsky. Another question that I want to ask is to what degree this school of thought in psychology differ from the established Piagetian perspective? There are so many colleagues of mine who turn into being fanatics of Vygotsky. I know they have their reasons but I don’t see why. From what I understand, at this point, there are claims and arguments of both Vygotsky and Piaget that share similarities. In what aspects they are very different from each other? Have Vygotskyans been taking Piagetian arguments in a straw man way so they can validate the stand point for a new school of thought? I am honestly in need of answers.

Third, I hope to meet Vygotskyans from the field of English teacher education especially those with concerns on English teacher education curriculum content as pedagogical tool. As a tutor in an English teacher education institution in Indonesia, I understand that the only Vygotskyan concept inducted into the curriculum document of English teaching in Indonesia is the concept of Zone of Proximal Development. This concept has informed the implementation of genre pedagogy in the English teaching in Indonesia. Beside Vygotskyan ZPD, other concepts such as Wells’ literacy levels, Bloom’s taxonomy, Celce-Murcia’s Communicative Competence are blended into one conception of English teaching in Indonesia. I hope to be able to discuss this the experts that I will be meeting so I can bring home a more informed understanding about Vygotsky in the curriculum.