Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwinand Bohr

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Wed Jun 27 2007 - 19:51:00 PDT

Hi Louise.

I spend a lot of my time working on creating activities where expertise is
distributed across age, class, gender, etc. So the heterogeneity of
is important to me for many reasons. It is a wonderful generative condition
of human life, or can be.

But, to deny that in a domain specific way there are people who have
attained a deep
mastery of activities in that domain: abacus users, magicians, cooks,
pre-school teachers,
invites the idea that there is no differentiation, in general, to cope well
with life challenges.Next time
you fly, ask yourself if you want to change places with the pilot......

I fear that that way lies cultural nihilism and the idea that we all start
de novo. That is a very despairing
view. Equal to the despair of the experts as unquestionable, context free
authorities, and not, as my son likes to remind
 me, drips under pressure.

On 6/27/07, Louise Hawkins <> wrote:
> I also find issue with the distinction between expert and novice, as if
> the expert has something to give and the novice something to receive.
> How many times is it the student who poses a question that raises a
> point that the 'expert' learns from?
> Louise
> ________________________________
> From: []
> On Behalf Of Michael Glassman
> Sent: Wednesday, 27 June 2007 04:37 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: RE: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus,
> Darwinand Bohr
> Martin
> Why this distinction between expert and novice? What does it really buy
> us? And who gets to make the distinction? It seems to me in an
> expert/novice scenario all power lies in the hands of those who get to
> make this distinction on whatever level, and get to define the two
> classes. Take a look at the political class in the United States, we
> define experts as those who have the right cultural capital, wear the
> right type of ties and suits, who speak in somber, modulated voices with
> a weary sigh of resignation, suggesting "of course you cannot see what I
> can see, but trust me."
> This is not to say every generation starts from scratch. Every
> generation starts with the tools that they have, but then they figure
> out how to use those tools to solve what invariably must be new
> problems, or they develop new tools out of the old tools. Let's say we
> have a set of spears we use to hunt food. There are great spear
> throwers who use those spears and teach others to use them as well.
> Their "expertise" in spear throwing gives them great power within the
> community. But things change, and the spears that were once used on
> larger animals are not as good for smaller animals. Are the spear
> throwers going to give up their place in the community as "experts?" Or
> are they going to say, well if we just wait, or if we use the spear in a
> different way, or it is the fault of our lazy children who do not train
> in spear throwing the way previous generations did. Meanwhile the food
> supply dwindles for the community. A young person examines the spear
> and says, hmmm, the arrow head pierces the skin but it cannot reach the
> skin with these new animals that we hunt. Perhaps I can create
> something else - a bow and arrow perhaps. But she is not an expert.
> Who, in a hierarchical system of knowledge development would listen and
> adopt the work of this young innovator? This is always the danger of a
> heirarchical system of knowledge development.
> In a more lateral system of development information is everything. As a
> species were are problem solvers, but our problem solving is based on
> the easy access and flow of information. I just read the most
> fascinating article by the economist Amriyat (sp?) Sen. In it he talks
> about famine. He makes a really good argument that famine is almost
> never about food. There is always enough food even in some of the major
> famines of the twentieth century. It is about the lack of capability
> for getting to the food. At its core the lack of information as a tool
> in obtaining this basic human function. What else is there other than
> information. When we define information as static and give it value
> separate from the problems we are working on, isn't that when we find
> the most trouble, have the most difficulties in problems solving?
> I watch my son play his World of Warcraft game. I wish I knew more
> about it. But I see him adapting and recalibrating constantly,
> developing strategies and processes that see incredible to me. It is a
> virtual world in which there are no "experts." The world and my son and
> the other players co-exist.
> I don't know if I've done such a good job trying to explore this.
> Perhaps a problem that needs greater consideration.
> Michael
> ________________________________
> From: on behalf of Martin Packer
> Sent: Tue 6/26/2007 2:04 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus,
> Darwinand Bohr
> Michael, you would have each generation start on their own, from
> scratch? No
> experts, just novices? That really is a post-apocalyptic vision!
> My point was there is more to life (and education) than "functioning"
> and
> "information." The danger with the tool metaphor, and the emphasis on
> artifacts as tools, is that they reduce all of life to the production
> process. That is not just a conceptual mistake, it is a political
> agenda. To
> argue that thinking is not important, only tool use, is not to argue
> against
> formalization, it is to promote a purely instrumental conception of
> human
> action and interaction. It is to promote an extreme version of the
> division
> of labor, in which only a tiny elite get to think about the nature of
> thinking, and everyone else is simply using tools skillfully but
> thoughtlessly.
> On 6/26/07 12:40 PM, "Michael Glassman" <> wrote:
> > But if this information is so important, and it exists as part of the
> problem
> > solving tools of humanity, don't we trust humans to discover it
> through their
> > own activities?
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Received on Wed Jun 27 19:52 PDT 2007

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