This article aims to appraise insights from participationist approaches to learning for understanding students' knowledge acquisition. The first part explicates the concepts of positioning, recognition, and identity through presenting a common ground for participationists and discussing different views on (a) the relationship between learning the content domain and positioning, recognition, and identity negotiation; (b) dynamicity of situativity; (c) relation of moment-to-moment situativity to long-term interaction patterns; (d) awareness of positioning, recognition, and identity. This allows an appraisal in the article's second part of a claim inherent to participationist views: It is necessary to adopt a system's view on learning opportunities presented to students in class because of the way positioning, recognition, and identity negotiation influence students' engagement with curricular content. A fifth issue emerges concerning the nature of this influence. Theoretical considerations and empirical evidence combine to support the conclusion that the claim holds some, not all, of the time.