The Education Futures Blog


Pekka Ihanainen, a Finnish teacher educator, is one of the most abstract, conceptual thinkers I have ever known. He is a crafter of ideas. e shows this in his professional work, but also in art, be it painting or igniting a fire sculpture at his cabin home, blending modernity with traditionalism. His canvas in this book presents a rich palette of pedagogical affordances—objects, places, and events that make it possible to do something in teaching and learning.

In our new volume, Emerging Education Futures (free download), Pekka calls for a new mindset in education that take into consideration complex interactions between affordances of observability, solvability, and partakeability. Affordances for learning, he writes, “are functionalities composed by human subjects in their personal and social contexts and environments in which they make their living. Pedagogical affordances are those present in pedagogical events and situations, and they determine the qualities of learning possible in practices learners localize themselves.”


Affordance functionalities


Pedagogical affordance Basic functionality
Observability What can I get out of teaching? (teacher-driven education)
Partakeability How can I make learning happen in collaboration with others? (learner-driven education)
Solvability How can I learn, as an individual or group, by examining questions and problems? (problem-driven education)

He expands each of these pedagogical affordances further into sub-affordances, providing a set of heuristics that can be reflectively applied in teacher-, learner-, and project-driven approaches to teaching and learning.

“If we think of observability, partakeability, and solvability affordances developed in this chapter, they always exist somehow in a pedagogical context, even if some people cannot connect with them. To reach these affordances, learners and teachers need to have the ability to capture them. Teachers, together with other learning providers and supporters, should be able to detect affordances within learning environments and to enhance learning spaces that carry constructive functionalities of observability, partakeability, and solvability. That is to say, we can learn affordances through the detection of the learning flow and pedagogical context.”

Read more in the Emerging Education Futures book (also available in print from Amazon).