Re: general, particular Holzkamp, Engeström

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Wed Oct 13 2004 - 14:30:27 PDT

I think that grades accumulate in the gpa, which buys you access to the
ivy league schools, which further accumulates as capital, as well as in
a degree, which is converted into positions and income and financial
capital. Brownie points, too, are part of this economy, and can be
converted into other forms of capital.
        Grades are like prayers... whether or not they get you into heaven is
something that you cannot know today... Also, as Penny Eckert suggested
(1989), for some they constitute sufficient motivation, not for others.
Much like earning a wage does not change the motivation of a
laborer.... But this is because students are already external to the
determination of the activity in which they participate...

On 13-Oct-04, at 2:23 PM, Jay Lemke wrote:

> So are grades then a form of "company scrip", a non-convertible
> currency with value only within the institutional orbit? ... and while
> it may be true that there is nothing else obvious to students as given
> in exchange for their labor, it also seems true that a lot students
> are not very motivated to work for grades ... and why should they, if
> this is a mostly bogus currency?
> trouble-making as usual,
> JAY.
> At 12:24 PM 10/13/2004 -0700, you wrote:
> Steve, to my earlier note:
> I mentioned that Marx wrote that production for one's own use
> satisfies one's own needs but does not produce commodities (p.55) and
> then, in the same paragraph, he writes "To become commodity, the
> product has to be transferred through an exchange to the other, to
> whom it has use-value".
> On p.57, he writes that useful work/labor mediates the metabolism
> between man and nature, that is, the human life.
> Of course, the work/labor of his (and perhaps Jean Lave's) taylor
> does not mediate directly the exchange between THIS taylor and nature;
> rather, it is the generalized labor, the contribution to society,
> which contributes to the metabolic exchange with nature--the taylor
> sells the coat and purchases a bushel of grain...
> So, to come to the school example, what do students produce and for
> whom? What happens when they do not produce? What are their
> productions exchanged for? You know as well as I do that students
> exchange their productions for grades, "What'd I get?" (Look at
> Ya-Meer in the article we discussed)
> It is rare that students don't produce for grades, such as in our own
> work where they contributed to the data available to environmentalists
> and town people alike concerning the health of a creek; and they
> contributed by teaching towns people about aspects of the creek, about
> tools, etc. (detailed accounts of these things in Rethinking
> Scientific Literacy).
> We did an early sketch of this commodity with Michelle K. McGinn
> ((1998). >unDELETE science education: /lives/work/voices. Journal of
> Research in Science Teaching, 35, 399-421.) and the commerce with
> grades, points, etc. using, among others, the different forms of
> capital that are traded and exchanged (Bourdieu).
> Michael
> On 13-Oct-04, at 1:09 AM, Steve Gabosch wrote:
> Michael, where does Marx say this?
> "Marx clearly says that all activity implies the exchange situation
> ..."
> Thanks,
> ~ Steve
> </blockquote></x-html>
> Jay Lemke
> Professor
> Educational Studies
> University of Michigan
> 610 East University
> Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259
> Ph: 734-763-9276
> Fax: 734-936-1606

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