RE: [xmca] Re: Expert / Novice [was POSSIBLE SPAM Copernicus]

From: Louise Hawkins <l.hawkins who-is-at>
Date: Thu Jun 28 2007 - 16:54:04 PDT


I fully understand that fantastic feeling that a child's wonder brings
to the every day. I can read, I have forgotten how I learnt, but my
eldest son is reminding me of the wonder of learning as he learns to
read. He is showing me how my automated 'chunks' may have been formed.

My youngest son has a speech/language disorder, and at the age of 5, I
am still filled with wonder every time he learns a new word, understands
a new idea.

My children are teaching me that how we learn things is an amazing


-----Original Message-----
From: Tony Whitson [mailto:twhitson@UDel.Edu]
Sent: Friday, 29 June 2007 12:50 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] Re: Expert / Novice [was POSSIBLE SPAM Copernicus]

I think part of the joy a parent experiences with an infant child is the
child's ability to make things appear wonderful again, after the adult
has learned to not see the wonder, having sedimented de-problematizing
ways of negotiating in the world.
   In that sense, with repect to learning, maybe the infant could be
regarded as having a kind of expertise in being able to see things anew
-- which is the flip side of not yet seeing them in a more discerning
-- but could help the adult learn to see them otherwise, or differently
(or even better).
   On the other hand, "expertise" does have an established meaning in
Cognitive Science, and that meaning involves seeing things in a way
characterized by automaticity -- which from another POV could be
regarded as seeing them more opaquely ("chunking," etc.).

What do you think?

On Thu, 28 Jun 2007, Paul Dillon wrote:

> Michael,
> I haven't read your article yet I'm wondering whether you equate
professor with expert, student with novice? This clearly would make
your statement about expertise being up for grabs a bit circular, no?
> Often a student has insights into a specific problem that the
professor doesn't, but you are now at the graduate level, right? That
is already stratospheric in relation to the first year physics student
being taught a section by the grad student. It is unlikely that the
freshman could distinguish between the expertise of the professor or the
grad student in a conversation about physics.
> Paul Dillon
> Wolff-Michael Roth <> wrote:
> Hi,
> thinking from an ontology of difference----the hardest thing for many
> Westerners subject to individualist ideology---means that we are
> different from ourselves, that heterogeneity is at the hard of
> sameness and Self. This also means that expertise is heterogeneous,
> within individuals and across, and even within itself. This, then,
> makes the ontological opposition of THE expert and THE novice highly
> questionable. In a paper that David Middleton and I published not too
> long ago, we show how this turns out to be the case in research
> interviews conducted with respect to graphing by an undergraduate
> physics students with professors in his own department, and who is
> expert and who is novice with respect to a particular issue
> continuously is up for grab.
> Cheers,
> Michael
> Roth, W.-M., & Middleton, D. (2006). The making of asymmetries of
> knowing, identity, and accountability in the sequential organization
> of graph interpretation. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 1, 11-

> 81.
> On 27-Jun-07, at 7:36 PM, 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
> 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
> 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?
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
> ---------------------------------
> Luggage? GPS? Comic books?
> Check out fitting gifts for grads at Yahoo! Search.
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
xmca mailing list
Received on Thu Jun 28 16:55 PDT 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Jul 01 2007 - 00:30:04 PDT