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RE: [xmca] Obama's Learn Act



I think our discourse fails to sway politicians because it fails to
connect up with our cultural commonsense about learning.


Broadly speaking I see our cultural commonsense involving 3 main
metaphors of learning corresponding to 3 major kinds of learning goals
informed by 3 major theoretical thrusts in psychology:



Habituation               Skills
Behaviorism/some cognitive science

Construction             Concepts
Developmental / Piagetian

Enculturation            Dispositions                    Sociocultural


The problems arise from the sociological imperative of psychology to
become a paradigmatic science. Rather than elaborate these alternative
notions of learning in a way that highlights their distinct conceptual
foundations, psychologists of all stripes are bent upon extending
outward from their basic intuition about learning so as to incorporate
the interests and concerns of the other camps. In this way, eventually,
one school succeeds in capturing the field and paradigmatic psychology
is achieved. 


In the meantime, (1) theories of learning become intractably complex
even as the intuitive underpinning of each psychological thrust becomes
increasingly opaque, and (2) values decisions about which form(s) of
learning should be pursued in education become absorbed into theoretical
discourses about learning.


The legacy for education is a pedagogical discourse that is
simultaneously confused and conflicted. The real alternatives that COULD
be framed for pedagogical practice toward diverse goals become
homogenized within a shapeless, integrative discourse. Sloganeering
substitutes in for intellectual foundation; competing camps attest to
the strength (i.e., influence) of the psychological schools whose
theories have inspired the slogans. 





From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
On Behalf Of Michael Glassman
Sent: Sunday, December 13, 2009 11:05 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] Obama's Learn Act


I really think that this legislation is, among other things,
historically insensitive.  Do people really think, given our society's
history with assessment tests, that these tests are not going to be
geared towards middle class values?  Do people really think that these
tests are not going to be used to label and differentiate groups?  Do
people really think that these assessments are not going to be used to
in some way reinforce a deficit model for children who don't do well on
the tests?  The fact that these tests are being conducted at such a
young age makes these ideas even more painful.


These senators Brown and Franken and Murray have their hearts in the
right place, but our discourse on education in the United States has
become so convoluted and narrow and so dominated by a faux realist
perspective (actually an unholy combination of realist and idealist)
that even legislators who mean well are I think making thoughtless
mistakes.  It still pains me that Ted Kennedy and George Miller were
major forces behind NCLB.  There are many reasons for this I think, not
the least of which is control of public discourse by a relatively small
group of educators - but just because you are giving money towards
education initiatives does not mean that you are helping the cause of
universal education.





From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of cconnery@ithaca.edu
Sent: Sun 12/13/2009 10:10 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] Obama's Learn Act

Hi Peg and others:

Here is the specific language under section 9, e,1,c of the LEARN Act:


(1) IN GENERAL.-An eligible entity that receives a subgrant under this
section shall use the subgrant funds consistent with the plan proposed
in subsection (c) to carry out the following activities:
(C) SCREENING ASSESSMENTS AND MEASURES.-Acquiring, providing training
for, and implementing screening assessments or other appropriate
measures to determine whether children from birth through kindergarten
entry are developing appropriate early language and literacy skills.

The question is, "WHO will determine what is appropriate and HOW will
they assess it?" This goes to the heart of Vygotsky's work.


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