Re: everyday? and smagorinsky et al interesting twisted path

From: Peg Griffin (
Date: Sun Oct 10 2004 - 10:34:29 PDT

In relation to Roth's mention of "everyday activity," I am wondering if this group ever discussed "THE TWISTING PATH OF CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT IN LEARNING TO TEACH" by PETER SMAGORINSKY,

It is apparently a later version of a paper given at the 2002 ISCRAT and is available on line:

I am quoting here the abstract in case it will incite enthusiasm about having a (or another) discussion of it (unless of course the first author says he'd rather take it away and have something else in its place):
"Teacher education is often viewed as too theoretical and not sufficiently concerned with the realities of classroom practice. From this perspective theory and practice are cast as distinct realms whose only connection comes when theory influences practice. We argue that the theory/practice dichotomy lacks the richness of Vygotsky's notion of concepts, in which abstract principles are interwoven with worldly experience. More specifically, Vygotsky distinguishes two types of concepts, spontaneous concepts and scientific concepts. Spontaneous concepts are learned through cultural practice and, because they are tied to learning in specific contexts, allow for limited generalization to new situations; scientific concepts are learned through formal instruction and, because they are grounded in general principles, can more readily be applied to new situations. Vygotsky argues that while spontaneous concepts may be developed without formal instruction, scientific concepts require interplay with spontaneous concepts; hence the problematic nature of the theory/practice dichotomy. He further identifies two types of generalization that approximate concepts yet do not achieve their theoretical unity: complexes, in which some members of the set may be unified with others but all are not unified according to the same principle; and pseudoconcepts, in which members of the set appear unified but include internal inconsistencies. We argue that teacher educators should strive to teach concepts, though the overall structure of teacher education programs makes it more likely that their students will learn complexes or pseudoconcepts. We illustrate these problems with examples from case studies of teachers making the transition from their teacher education programs to their first jobs."

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Wolff-Michael Roth
  Sent: Thursday, October 07, 2004 4:01 PM
  Subject: Re: a link re Roth's other work

  By the way, the book "Rethinking Science Education" has activity theory inscribed throughout, though we don't make a big deal out of it. But my 4 chapters use Engeström kind of analyses, and Angie's chapters are also marked by their neo-Marxist take on what science might be like when we thought of it as everyday activity, in which students can participate, so that really what we have to do is tear down the walls that lock kids away... Something like it.

  On 7-Oct-04, at 1:03 PM, Sophie Alcock wrote:

    Than you Peg. The book by Slobin (referred to in this review) also sounds inspiring. This sort of take on science sounds so much more relevant, meaningful and fascinating than my school recollections of text books, the periodic table and...
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Peg Griffin []
    Sent: Friday, October 08, 2004 4:05 AM
    Subject: a link re Roth's other work

    Here's a link to Richard Frazier's new review of "Rethinking Scientific Literacy." by Wolff-Michael Roth and Angela Calabrese Barton.
    Peg Griffin
    329A Cloverdale Rd.
    Montgomery, AL 36104
    (334) 265-4468
    Research Affiliation: Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition

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