Judy Harris

Reflection on “Ways of Seeing the Recognition of Prior Learning: What Contribution Can Such Practices Make to Social Inclusion?”

Judith Anne Harris


This reflective piece tracks the origins and evolution of Judy Harris’s work over 15 years. The original “Ways of Seeing ...” (Harris, 1999) provided an unsentimental reading of the social and political functions of recognition of prior learning (RPL) practices. Her premise was, as it still is, that RPL has few intrinsic characteristics of its own – it can take many forms and contribute to a variety of social ends, not all of which are as “progressive” or “radical” as advocates believe them to be. Drawing mainly from the sociology of education, Harris has pushed for understandings of RPL that take into account different types of knowledge that embrace pedagogy as well as learning, and that are based on realistic readings of the possibility for and desirability of change in particular contexts at particular social moments. Comparisons are drawn between RPL and the more recent open educational resources (OERs) and massive open online courses (MOOCs), arguing that they all raise similar sociological and pedagogical questions that may render them less democratic and equitable than they appear at first sight.

To view the original “Ways of Seeing ...” article, please see the Resources section of this issue of PLA Inside Out.

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