Visit by Professor Karl Maton

Karl Maton March 2018
Karl Maton March 2018

Prof Karl Maton - Director of the Centre for LCT at University of Sydney and Research Associate of CHERTL, Rhodes University

by Belinda Matabane (Higher Education Studies PhD scholar)

Professor Karl Maton’s visit was greatly anticipated by the many academics and PhD scholars drawing on Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) for their research. But the crowded room that attended his public lecture on Autonomy Codes also included a number of people who were unfamiliar with the theory or how it can be used to make sense of masses of data where questions of access, power and social justice are paramount.

LCT is used not only to analyze but also to shape practice. The theory can be used far beyond education research and practice and is seen as a toolkit, rather than a meta theory or an ‘ism’. LCT makes reference to the ‘knowledge paradox’ whereby education research has been dominated by sociological and psychological approaches that inadvertently neglect the knowledge itself. Psychological approaches are inclined to see knowledge as what goes in our heads therefore focusing on generic processes of learning and sociological processes focus on the ways in which social structures and cultures can enable or constrain access to knowledge. But in both cases, the focus only on knowing or knowers blinds us from seeing knowledge as something that has its own properties and powers. In education research, LCT can be used to help us to understand why some learners succeed while others don’t by bringing together an understanding of knowers, knowing and knowledge.

The toolkit offers a variety of means for doing this. It can be done by looking at code clashes and code matches. For example, if the ‘codes’ that a student brings to the classroom or the course matches with the expectations placed on them, the learner will perform better and when the codes clash the learner may struggle, especially when the codes are not made explicit.

There is a vibrant LCT community at Rhodes University and the input from Professor Maton, which took the form of a public lecture, four workshops and a number of individual consultancies, was greatly appreciated by many.