Will you, too, confess to being a Wenger aficionado?

Okay, I must confess that Wenger is starting to win me over. I have these grandiose ideas about identity; however, my vocabulary to describe such thoughts is quite lacking. Where Wenger excels (and the reason I am becoming an aficionado) is his ability to use eloquent language to explain his theories.

On page 169, Wenger talks about institutionalized non-participation in that aspects of the institution or context create and/or promote non-participation of its members. Wenger uses the examples of claims processors who claim to not want to discuss job-related topics during breaks yet their conversations are saturated with such aspects. This example made me think of talk in the teacher's lounge at school. During lunch, teachers formed groups, or communities if you will. I remember that they, too, had a similar rule of outlawing talk related to school during that time, but just like claims processors, realized the fact that that which is forbidden quickly finds entrance. To me, the job of teaching provided the common experience, the focus, around which the community had a shared experience, but this potential bond was marginalized. Why do we outlaw the glue that could hold the pieces of the puzzle together permanently?

Wenger also talks about the balance between the institution and its workers by saying, "You give me your time, and I'll give you money; you don't invest yourself in me, and I won't invest myself in you." This quote made me think of teacher unions and their role in institutionalized non-participation. I was often told not to extend myself too much, otherwise administration would expect that standard from me and give me nothing in return. It seems as if this institutionalized non-participation can be detrimental to both the COP within the school and to the students. How does one combat institutionalized non-participation if it is an undesired trait (to which I am inferring in this case)?