[xmca] Narrowing minds in classroom discourse

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at gmail.com>
Date: Wed Jul 16 2008 - 07:57:58 PDT

As part of a larger note, David K provided this interesting example of
classroom discourse
I think well worth focusing on in its own right.

There is a similar problem in my classroom data.

T: Tell me about Jinho's feeling. (Game: Tell me a story about this
T: What is he thinking? (Game: Look at his face and try to read his mind.)
T: Is he happy or sad? (Game: Look at his mouth. Is he smiling or frowning?)
T: Do you know? (Game: Say something! Anything!)

The first question is really a request for a full sentence. But the teacher
then realizes that it is also an open question, and will probably solicit
irrelevant information. The "open" question is gradually closed, and the
result is that the degrees of freedom are also reduced.

After years of this kind of discourse, children learn to understand that
they are almost always being asked questions that require only a one or two
word response. The result is catastrophic for grammatical development!

David seems to be putting be elaborating usefully on the general problem of
responding to known answer questions. That is, the teacher
does have a correct answer in mind and wants to avoid (according to David's
interpretation -- I will take his word for it) "irrelevant
information." In the end, the kids not only have narrow minds for
grammatical development, but for the development of thought more generally.

On the other hand, all of the questions orient the kid to a particular kind
of mind reading, mediated by the text being discussed. VERY useful in
many situations in adult life... as the larger context of David's message
xmca mailing list
Received on Wed Jul 16 07:59 PDT 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Aug 01 2008 - 00:30:08 PDT