RE: [xmca] change in education

From: Peg Griffin (
Date: Sun Jul 31 2005 - 11:18:51 PDT

Hi Mike and Donna and others,

Just a tiny query: Instead of top-down or bottom-up, would either or both
of you go for what a lot of people use in various cognitive models nowadays:
interactive activation among parallel distributed processes? It has always
seemed to me to be a natural frame for models that address the
cultural-historical. Plus, it casts light on the variability all the way
down/up/and sideways that practice must face and might appropriate.



From: [] On
Behalf Of Mike Cole
Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2005 10:07 AM
To: Donna Russell
Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] change in education


Dear Dr. Russell


I hope it is clear that I, too believe that there are teachers out there who
care deeply about their student, will do anything they

can (including working a lot of overtime and spending their own money) to
make their students lives potentially more

productive........ Where, perhaps, we differ, is about whether the sorts of
changes we are discussing, changes that

might be called "developmenal" in that they involve qualitative shifts in
the system of education, can be achieved entirely

through bottom up processes operating in a part of the social order. With
respects to all sorts of developmental phenomena

(I take learning to read to be one), it seems like a combination of top down
and bottom up processes (a dialectical process,

perhaps)? are needed.


That said, might you consider having your article, "A paradigm shift: A case
study of innovation in an educational setting" be

 linked to the xma "papers for discussion" page for discussion when the LCA
discussion has run its course (we have still

not fully incorporated Bernstein, whose work strikes me as very important to
the discussion). The paper is relevant in lots of

ways to XMCA, I think. What do you think?


On another matter, if you would not mind, I would find it easier to refer to
you as Donna since you sign your name that way. The

use of honorific titles in this medium exacerbates the tendencies to create
hierarchies where they need not exist. There are certainly

wide variations in expertise, but they are multi-dimensional in the highest
degree. For example, you have expertise as a classroom

teacher while I have never been one and do not believe that I have any right
to give advice to teachers about how to teach under the

conditions of their work, which I find far too difficult to deal with. So
let me consider you an expert from whom I can learn, especially

when, as you have done, you make your voice heard to the benefit of this
community of learners.



On 7/30/05, Donna Russell <> wrote:

hi dr cole


i believe there are teachers out there- i was one and i work with them- who
care very deeply about their students- they will do anything that works to
make their students' lifes potentially more productive including fighting
against the political climate, understanding the changing dynamics of their
classrooms and the financial constraints- i work to help them - change in
education will happen- i believe- in classrooms- as a bottom-up process- in
the types and qualities of the interactions of teachers and their students-
that is the engine that drives a program of change-


i use chat to understand classrooms because when i became a doc student in
ed psych it was the only research methodology that made sense to me as a
teacher- i had an ephiphany when i read engestrom's book- i knew it would
allow me to make sense of the interactions of the dynamics of a classrooms


i have published several times-i did publish a short case study analysis of
a real change in beliefs an urban classroom- i have attached this article to
an email to you- i was published in the online internation journal of
instructional technology


i really do not feel qualified to post it to xmca i have only had my phd
for 2 years- i have presented many times (including computer supported
collaborative learning and i will present a paper at iscar) but i have only
published 5 times in the past 2 years since i started at umkc.


 if you feel that this article or another would be of interest please let me
know -i have sent a much more in-depth article in regards to my research
design to mca last september- but i am not sure of its status- perhaps it
would be of more interest -


thanks so much for your response




Donna L. Russell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Instructional Technology
Curriculum and Instructional Leadership
Suite 309
School of Education
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Kansas City, MO 64110
(cell) 314.210.6996
(office) 816.235.5871

----- Original Message -----

From: Mike <> Cole


Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2005 10:23 AM

Subject: Re: [xmca] change in education


Hi Donna--


I totally agree concerning the POTENTIAL of using CHAT for design of

activities, but its a hard look at the barriers that the Kozulin (sorry for
the mis-spelling of the file name)

discussion of Davydov's curriculum made me think about in light of the
discussion about barriers to

changes in adult behaviors needed to produce the kinds of interactions that,
theoretically, could be

developmentally generative.


For example: "To put it bluntly, if a student in the 1970's were to take a
strictly conceptual-theoretical

attitude toward the study of Soviet history (history is one domain that
davydov's ideas were and are

being applied to), he or she would most probably be purged from the school
as a dissident and if old

enough could end up in Siberian exile."


Now apply this statement to the CURRENT situation in the US. We do not have
the Russian tradition

of sending people to far-off dangerous environments to rid society of them,
but we certainly have our

ways of disciplining dissidents. That currently includes people who believe
in evolution in many parts

of the country and very specifically, it applies to the writing of textbooks
about American history. At

present the wife of the vice-president, who has a say in such matters,
amazingly, has decreed that

only textbooks that teach the "traditonal history of the US" should be
allowed. That traditional history

tells us that Davy Crockett was a hero, forgets that in WWII it was the US
and Britain who created a

deliberate policy of targeting civilians as legitimate targets for
destruction, which our massive

airforces carried out in places like Dresden and, famously, Hiroshima and
Nagasaki (anniversaries

coming up).


I am awaiting with great interest the insights of people in the discussion
who have, correctly, linked real

changes in education to the need for teachers to change. But if the effort
stops there, history has some

very clear lessons for us about how far the well intentioned changes will


Good luck in your work! If we want to understand history, trying to change
it is a pretty good heuristic. Where

have you published resarch on developing AT models of innovation in diverse
settings? Perhaps we could

post for discussion and all learn something from it.



On 7/29/05, Russell, Donna L < > wrote:

Hello Everyone

In reference to the article sent my mike cole on kozlyn and davidoff on
change in education:

I have previously taught for 14 years in a variety of classrooms including
St. Louis Public schools. I have a background in instructional design and
educational technology. I currently study how teachers implement change in
their classrooms- primarily their use of technology - using activity theory.
Here at UMKC I am implementing research of urban classrooms in the Kansas
City school districts..

I sincerely believe that there is a potential for a paradigm shift in
education by developing constructivist-based learning environmnents based on
cog theory and embedding advanced learning technologies in a meaningful and
an authentic manner. It has been my experience that these educational
experiences are productive in suburban, rural, and urban schools. However,
there are many barriers for teachers who wish to innovate in urban

I attempt through my SC research design to develop AT-based models of
effective innovation in diverse educational settings so these models can be
used to develop profesisonal development programs in varied educational
settings so educators can innovate successfully and serve their increasingly
diverse students productively.


Donna L. Russell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Instructional Technology
Curriculum and Instructional Leadership
309 School of Education
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Kansas City, MO 64110
(office) 816.235.5871
(cell) 314.210.6996

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