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Connecting a community through concepts

- Wits University

Wits University hosts the Fifth International Legitimation Code Theory Conference.

Imagine a set of tools that can not only help you analyse education with rigour and precision but also help you change and improve your own practices. Moreover, imagine if those tools can be used for any practices, both within and beyond education, enabling you to connect with what others learn in very different contexts. In January, the School of Education at Wits played host to an international gathering of scholars, educators and practitioners who use just such a toolkit, called Legitimation Code Theory or ‘LCT’.Delegates gathered at the Wits School of Education to learn LCT and solve urgent problems in their fields.

Wits University has a vibrant and rapidly growing community of staff and students using LCT to shape practices, teach better and conduct practice-based research. LCT can be used to analyse good teaching in different subjects and contexts, and see why some interventions are more successful than others. LCT can also show why some students achieve and others do not. Then it is possible to make the hidden ‘rules of the game’ more visible to everyone, especially those students whose educational backgrounds have not equipped them for the different demands of courses they study.

In January, the Wits LCT community, led by Professor Lee Rusznyak, Director of the Wits LCT Hub, welcomed 130 delegates from 17 countries to the Fifth International LCT Conference (or ‘LCT5’). Over four days, delegates enjoyed 64 papers showing how LCT is being used around the world to change lives in an astounding range of fields and contexts.

Each day began with a ‘power-up’ lecture by Karl Maton, the creator of LCT and a Visiting Professor at the Wits School of Education. These lectures gave delegates intensive upskilling in understanding LCT and the innovative ways of thinking made possible using the framework.

In the sessions that followed, delegates could choose between four parallel sessions, each offering studies in different fields and employing a range of LCT concepts. Topics ranged from medical care in Sweden to judicial judgments in China. The sessions, each 40 minutes long, allowed for in-depth presentations and robust discussions.

“This is a conference unlike any other that I’ve ever been to,” said Maton. “It is filled with people who are driven to solve problems and who want to learn. Everybody is really positive and our conversations are on an extremely high intellectual level.”

LCT allows for genuine interdisciplinary dialogue. More than twenty papers shared how LCT is being used to innovate how university students are prepared for professional practices across such diverse fields as engineering, pharmacy, accounting, law, nursing and teaching. “We have a lot of common problems across disciplines, but they are normally not shared or seen because various fields have different languages. Valuable lessons can be learnt from other disciplines,” said Maton. “LCT provides us with the language and the framework to connect these disciplines.”

One of the many highlights of LCT5 was a panel in which Wits Bachelor of Education (BEd) students showed how they analyse their own teaching practices using LCT tools taught in their coursework. They could see for themselves how their understandings of classroom practice had changed over time, and how they could teach even better. The inspirational session demonstrated how LCT can be used to empower students and shape their developing practices.

In the words of a Professor: “I’ve been going to conferences for over 30 years and this was the best conference I’ve ever been to”.

Rusznyak said this amazing success is because of “the shared and versatile theoretical framework of LCT; an engaged and dynamic community of academics, students, and practitioners; generous funding support; seamless organisation, and the excellent service received from Wits' operational teams.”

The conference was made possible through the support of the LCT Centre, Wits University, the National Research Foundation and the UNESCO Chair in Teacher Education for Diversity and Development.