[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [xmca] A Good Class or a Good Show? CHAT and the long term

Many good and interesting points, Yuan! which I say partly as praise, and sincerely, and partly because I know from past communications that many readers of xmca worry that I am going to criticize what they wrote or disagree! :-)

It's very true that in my middle-class American culture, explicit verbal praise is considered a parental obligation. I have been re- watching a movie, because I like it's atmosphere and the series it is part of and because they keep showing it again and again on cable tv, which features an action hero father and his college-age son. The mother keeps despairing because the father never manages to offer this praise to the son, and the son is clearly angry and feels the father does not really love, or respect him. When the mother confronts the father about this, he says "Well, I'm his father. It's implied!" The story is set in China, but the family are English (but I think the script must be by an American).

How do we study developmental and social processes over longer timescales? The article Mike recently circulated about fiction as simulation also mentions biographical narratives, which the authors deemed inferior to literary ones in several (cognitive) respects, and which are also disparaged by historians and many researchers because they usually don't agree all that well with other factual evidence. But they show us how we retrospectively tell our lives over long timescales, and they tend to follow cultural models of how this ought to be done. Diaries give us a different variant on this, and I envy historians who have the time to read several decades of diary entries and personal letters. There is a wealth of useful data there for studying something, even if it is not what historians usually study. Nor is it what developmental psychologists study (are there lifespan developmental studies that use such data, anyone???). Who does study the ways in which our views of ourselves and our world change across the decades of life? Novelists, maybe?

Yes, it takes a village. For diversity of needed viewpoints and for continuity over timescales longer than a single research career (unless it's Mike's or Jerry Bruner's :-) to study longer term (eco-)social processes. E.g. the kinds of change you refer to in how Chinese-Americans name their children, in relation to attitudes toward "standing out" or inviting the jealousy of the gods (or of the local elite). Or how the leftward leanings of Christian tradition were built on by the left in Latin American, while at the same time, the rightward leanings were built on by the right in the US. Social historians do try to study such things, but really they can't do it the way we know it ought to be done. They have to narrow their scope to a manageable topic for the time one person can dedicate to a study. They can bring only one set of disciplinary skills and only one perspective based in their own social positioning. And they can look over longer timescales only through "dead" and indirect data (records, archives) without being able to add to this the "living" data of processes as they occur, records-to-be as they are created, the feelings of people and the rich, ethnographic data of which the historical record can be but a minimal selection.

And if we had such institutions, designed to do such studies on timescales of a century or more, then someone would have to study them, too! or more likely they would have to have a component within them to keep track of and feedback to the rest of the institution what was happening over the timescale of their own histories as institutions.


Jay Lemke
Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
Educational Studies
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Visiting Scholar
Laboratory for Comparative Human Communication
University of California -- San Diego
La Jolla, CA
USA 92093

On Dec 20, 2009, at 6:27 PM, yuan lai wrote:

David, I think it's not so much the merits or demerits of an article as the monthly discussion paper's role at xmca. I think of the discussion paper as
a piece to hold our shared attention, accessible to all and for all
interested to comment on, not about what could have been, as it, like all research work, has its constraints, but, like a museum display, to make visible our own different takes, yet another way to share (“I didn’t know you also…”), to reaffirm, to envision “what could be”, etc. But how one
feels about something does matter (neutral feelings usually means less
speaking and acting), especially when there are other means to be members of a community. On the other hand, the sponataneous tends to be irregular, although not a problem at xmca. (I seem to be switching positions back and

I have been thinking how less praise is linked to collectivistic cultures. I
speak from personal experiences. I’m a Chinese and Chinese culture is
characterized as collectivistic. When I first came over to North America, as an adult, I was struck by the amount of praise parents and teachers lavish
on children, as well as how much parents and adults talk to babies and
toddlers, among other things. Gradually, the unfamiliar becomes familiar. My own experience of growing up at home, back in Taiwan, is that my parents did not hug me and my siblings much at all (all my aunts and uncles did the same, but my grandfather always hugged and kissed his grandchildren; I still recall complaining to him about his beard). But children growing up in such homes know that their parents love them because there are many ways to show love. My mom loves me every time when she cooks the food I like; my dad shows his love for me when he asks me to dress warmly. Chinese may get or give less praise, but we know it IS praise when parents do not say anything upon reading a report card of straight A’s. That’s a high school student put it to me; she knew her parents were pleased. Good grades are expected and both children and parents know. Overt praise among Chinese people, based on my personal experience and immigrants in Canada that I have experienced at that time, is not necessary because of shared expectations. I guess it would be the same with behavior. Someone I know told a story, which happened many years ago when she first arrived in New York from China. The host family picked her up at the airport in the evening and asked her if she would like something to eat before going to bed. She thanked her host and declined. She was expecting a second offer and ready to accept that. But the second offer never was made. Of course, the host family did not know the Chinese code for being a host. That was some years ago when I talked to some other immigrant Chinese about parental expectations. I don’t know the newer generation and how much parenting practices has changed or not. I can’t judge fairly my own
parenting practices.

In the example of expectations understood between and among parties, I think it is not so much “less praise” as to how praise is expressed, via body
language or because there is less perceived need (due to shared, tacit
understanding). But I’m not sure if “less praise” means “more criticism”, which Gratier et al. seem to place on the same plane. Looking at personal experiences on the speculated mechanism of “less praise”, I would think that, if a parent frowns while reading a report card, it is an expression of criticism and there shouldn’t be different patterns of occurrences. But then
again we are human and we probably let out our anger when shared
expectations aren’t met than to withhold praise, at least openly, when good results come in. It appears that Gratier et al. refer to a different way of
conceptualizing praise and criticism. They write, “one element in the
‘collectivistic’ worldview is a dispreference for praise, which makes one child stand out” (p. 297). This implies that praise or criticism is given in public or at least there is an audience or potential audience. There is a saying, a nail that sticks out gets pushed down (as opposed to “a squeaky wheel gets oiled”). I can’t sort out what this means to me at the moment.
But my question is that, if praise makes one child stand out, wouldn’t
criticism also do? If so, we should expect to see less criticism in
collectivistic culture, but the authors expected it in the opposite
direction. I’m thinking why people in collectivistic societies might be fearless of making their young stand out with criticism. The only thing I could think of now is a Chinese tradition to name one’s children humbly so as not to invoke anger from gods or something. But I think it is more a tradition of the past and applies to private names family members used for
their youngsters. Most Chinese names I know are grand sounding! Like
“Beautiful flowers” or “Righteous Way.” There are some exceptions; One
neighbor of mine formally named her daughter “Dian Dian”, which means Dot
Dot. But that may suggest more fondness than fear of standing out.

For me, Jay's article, Across the Scales of Time: Artifacts, Activities, and Meanings in Ecosocial Systems, inspires “what could be”. The parts of the article on the adabatic and heterochrony principles are a bit difficult for me (at first at least), but the rest is a treat! I was thinking of how it would apply to young immigrant children in Gratier et al. and methodological considerations as I read it. I like very much Jay’s view on page 288: “we
still tend to define our objects of study in such a way that a single
researcher could in principle come to understand them. This appears to be a
contradiction in the case of ecosocial systems. The longest timescale
processes that characterize such systems are almost certainly longer than a human lifetime. We cannot study such a system from more than a few of the many viewpoints within it, and we honestly do not expect all these views to fit consistently together. We need at least a team to conduct such a study, one as diverse or nearly so as the system under study, and along the same dimensions of difference. And we need a self-sustaining institution that will last long enough to observe major historical change in the system. ‘It
takes a village’ to study a village.”

(correction of phrases, errors, and misinterpretation is welcome) How to
study longer-term processes and patterns (longer than one lifetime) in
shorter-term processes? The individualism-collectivism is a framework
Gratier et al. use; topdown frameworks (perhaps having been developed from bottom up) can be useful but, as lived through individuals with different variations, they are evolving, albeit probably at snail pace in a vast land.. Jay's envisioning of a self-sustaining institution, perhaps global in nature (a future plan for LCHC perhaps?), would help track longer- or shorter-term
processes across different timescales. As carriers of longer-term
processess, how would the Latino children in Gratier et al. interpret the teacher’s, say, verbal or nonverbal signs of praise and criticism, intended by the teacher or not? How would this interpretation relate to their own perceptions and practices around their parents’ praise or criticism? How do researchers invite children to reflect on what they have just experienced?
What emergent processes and patterns in the classrooms where different
worlds come into contact? As I think about these, I see that researchers in the future would write with less finality of their interpretation (even when interpretations of participants are incorporated) if they intend their work to continue living, so to speak. Perhaps let the data speak for themselves more. Perhaps more built-in design to allow the data to be compared with research of similar nature in databanks for future researchers to mine the


On Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 10:25 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com >wrote:

Mike, I think that the answer (to the temporary lull in the discussion of the Gratier et al article) is of course all of the below: final exams, end of quarter, and a certain amount of delicacy over an article that at least some of us see as deeply problematic (see Jay's comments, especially).

I often think it's more useful to bring whatever discussion we are
currently having (e.g. bodies and artifacts, emotion and cognition) around
to the article at hand rather than vice versa.

Some of our most successful and fruitful discussions have (alas for me!)
also been some of our most general.

This is partly thanks to the very articulate and ardent philosophers on the list, but it's also because general means inclusive, transdisciplinary, a
party to which every party's invited except the bouncer.

Now it seems to me that the Gratier et al. article really does have a
bearing on both the "bodies and artefacts" thread and the "emotion and
cognition" one. As I already said, I think the "bodies and artefacts"
connection is INTONATION and STRESS: this is the way that gesture really "goes underground" in language, and so I think that Gratier et al (and also
Wolff-Michael Roth) are right to look at it in all its spectrographic
splendor. But the level of detail we get that way has to somehow be
harnessed to a more macrogenetic perspective to do much good.

This time I have a comment on the "emotion and cognition" thread. In
Chapter Two of Thinking and Speech, Vygotsky spends a LOT of time quoting Bleuler. I've just been reading Bleuler's book on autism in the library. Vygotsky likes him because of his rejection of the over-extended content of
the autistic function (actually, as we shall see, an over-extended
conception of the reality function)..

We can see, even if Bleuler cannot, the beginnings of Hegelian triad
describing the emergence of higher EMOTIONAL functions. The first,
relatively unmediated response, to reality is an instance of the reality function, but it is based on perception and sensation. Here the James-Lange formula that we feel sad because we perceive ourselves crying or we feel frightened because we feel the sensations of our body running away from a bear may be a useful metaphor (except for the obvious homunculus problem it raises), or at least a catchy inversion of the individual subjectivist view
of the genesis of affect.

From this primal, biological response a second, more fully psychological
response is born. As Bleuler points out, it requires a relatively complex
response, because it involves the recollection of sensation, and even
turning away from the immediate sources of sensation. This is the autistic function proper, and it is not genetically primary. When this response
becomes linked to itself, rather than to objective events, we get
“irrealist” logic, the pleasure principle, the associative links of dreams
which Vygotsky refuses to call “symbolic”.

Finally, there is a third response, which is “realistic” in the sense that it is oriented towards an objective state of affairs existing between people rather than within them. Yet it is mediated, by recollection and reflection, and above all by language. Here is where we must look for higher affective functions, culturally mediated emotions, and conceptually based aesthetics.

This third response is also where we need to look to find the basis of a Spinozan—a socialist—ethics; like the second response, it considers human pleasure and the satisfaction of desire to be a positive good. But like the first response, it is objective, in the sense that it is not individualistic but socially shared through and through. Bleuler, a biologically oriented
psychologist, cannot get us this far. But Vygotsky can!

When I read Gratier et al. I am impressed by how many of the descriptions of the Bridging Cultures Classroom contain descriptions of positive affect, and how many of the non-Bridging Cultures Classroom are rather negative.

But of course a good class cannot simply be a chain of what Wolff- Michael calls emotionally positive valences; some such chains are going to be at the lowest level of physical response (e.g. the satisfaction of desire, such as when kids get treats in class) and a good many more are going to be at the level Bleuler is calling autistic; the chain of "one positive valence after another" that we often see as a substitute for plot in children's literature
and a substitute for a script in kids' movies.

So we need more than glowing descriptions in order to see what experienced teachers see at a glance: the difference between a good show and a good class! One of my grads is working on this right now; the idea is to test the positive valence of particular topics in a conversation by counting the number of times they get brought up voluntarily by one child and continued
by others.

We initially thought we would use this technique just to find out who the kids wanted to talk about: did they want to talk about the characters in the textbook, or about their teacher an their classmates? Surprisingly, they often chose the textbook characters, and they were particularly interested in...the TEACHER character. In their chat about real people, they also prefer the teacher as a topic. Perhaps this is part of OUR culture, though!

While writing this, though, a problem occurred to me. The topics that get the most "hits" and which run the longest in classroom conversations really
represent two rather contradictory things: the ability to stimulate
interventions from the most voluble participants, and the ability to
generalize to the interests of the greatest possible number. On xmca, of course, that means topics of a certain generality and abstractness. In our
classroom data, though, that tends to mean the teacher.

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

--- On Sun, 12/13/09, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] bodies and artifacts
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Sunday, December 13, 2009, 8:38 AM

My apologies for posting the les treilles paper twice. it did not show on
screen. As "recompense" here is a review of a book that
promotes the idea of "bio-cultural co-constructivism" without mention of Vygotsky anywhere. Perhaps, as a result, it leads some of its adherents
some (in my opinion) inappropriate reduction of culture to "the
environment," thereby opening up a very old, very stinky, can of worms.

Question: Many people on XMCA voted to discuss the
"Tacit Communicative Style and Cultural Attunement in Classroom
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content%7Edb=all %7Econtent=a915635308
but very few have followed David's lead in discussing it directly.
Is it because of final exam time on both a quarter and semester system in the US? Or voting as a prelude to spectatorship? Where are those voters?


On Sun, Dec 13, 2009 at 7:20 AM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

The book description came through, Larry. Attached is the most recent Fonagy article i could find that appeared general. His work looks very interesting, thanks. I have not read it yet, but that fact that Gergeley
a co-author indicates that issues of intentionality are involved and I am
very curious to see if the effects you talk about are connected with
at 9months. First guess, it would fit with Tomasello and Vygotsky, but if
fits with Trevarthan and primary intersubjectivity it will be a suprise..
We'll see.

A brief paper on this topic I wrote for an audience for whom the idea
culture mediates human activity was a novelty, and that there is a two
relation between "natural" and "cultural" is also attached.

thanks a lot for the pointer.

On Sat, Dec 12, 2009 at 10:10 PM, Larry Purss <lpurss@shaw.ca> wrote:

I sent an attachment through CHAT but I don't think it went through.
Fonagy and three other authors wrote the book "Affect regulation,
Mentalization, and the Development of the Self.
It is an extension of Bowlby's and Winnicott's approach (He works at the
same Tavistock institute in London) and its interweaving with his
understanding of Hegel and intersubjectivity theory.
The summary of infant studies from a relational framework is excellent.. Some of the "clinical" approaches in the second half of the book may be
Also I wonder how feminist scholars may critique the focus on "mothers"?

However the detail (though sometimes overwhelming) is systematically
presented and builds a coherent perspective on the centrality of
processes to the development of subjectivity.

----- Original Message -----
From: Vera Steiner <vygotsky@unm.edu>
Date: Saturday, December 12, 2009 8:04 pm
Subject: Re: [xmca] bodies and artifacts
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

Hi Larry,
I would be interested in a link to Fonagy's recent publications.
I am
related to him and am doubly curious about his work.
Thanks, Vera
----- Original Message -----
From: "Larry Purss" <lpurss@shaw.ca>
To: <ablunden@mira.net>; "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
Sent: Saturday, December 12, 2009 8:51 PM
Subject: Re: [xmca] bodies and artifacts


I believe the reason we are cautious about brain research is it
implies "biology" as foundational to being human.  The
reason I mention
Fonagy and others exploring the foundational premises of infant
is they are starting from intersubjectivity as prior to
subjectivity and it
is only within relational contexts that a sense of subjectivity
arises or
emerges. They are using brain research to support this
relational paradigm.

----- Original Message -----
From: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
Date: Saturday, December 12, 2009 7:28 pm
Subject: Re: [xmca] bodies and artifacts
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>


In my first forrays into this discussion on emotion, I found
myself introducing talk of physiological observations in a
way I would never have thought of doing in relation to
cognition. After reading about the 300 years of reflections
on the physiology of emotion in Vygotsky's article, I was
left asking myself: why? Why do I think it is important to
investigate the physiology of emotion, while I hold such a
low opinion of the place of physiological investigations in
understanding the normal process of cognition.

Consciousness is the outcome of the intersection of two
objective processes: human physiology and human behaviour.
This is equally true of both emotion and cognition.

While the marketing, military and medial industries are
spending billions of dollars on neurological investigations,
I would think that CHAT people would be interested in
questions like the role of emotion in learning, behaviour,
addicition, the formation of social bonds, and so on,
investigating such questions with dual stimulation type
experiments, with artifacts that are more or less affect-laden.


Larry Purss wrote:
Your comment that this leaves us only at the starting gate of
understanding how bodies can be "written on"  points to the
research and reflection on the relation of changes in the brain
mediated by culture.
One area of research that is exploring how the brain is
changed via mediation is intersubjective infant developmental
studies that are mapping physiological changes in one person's
brain that "mirrors" similar  physiological brain
changes  being generated during the activity of the
other  person.  Fonagy is doing research in this area
and has written a detailed summary of the research in this area.
His term for this intersubjective process is "mentalization".


----- Original Message -----
From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
Date: Saturday, December 12, 2009 12:19 pm
Subject: Re: [xmca] bodies and artifacts
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

I do not have all this sorted out by a long shot, but my own
of thinking
about the issue is that humans are hybrids, really complex
one's. Their
brains have LITERALLY been shaped by prior genrations of
mediation of
activity through material artifacts, their brains (and often
other parts of
the bodies) cannot operate normally without inclusion of
artifacts, they can
be "written on" as jay points out.

The problem is that this leaves us only at the starting gate
furtherdevelopment of this point of view. I found that
experimental study I sent
around sort of interest in this regard, even though it
such sketchy
detail and assumes so much about its cultural content and
organization. The
developmental implications, which in our current discussion
would mean, the
organization of hybridity during ontogeny, which in turn has
implicationsfor the cognition/emotion

On Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 5:36 PM, Jay Lemke
<jaylemke@umich.edu> wrote:

One of the ways I have found useful to think about the body
relation to
semiotic mediation is to see the body as, among other
a semiotic

What I mean by semiotic artifact is a material object or
substrate that can
be written on and read from, much like a printed page or an
architectural> drawing. Written on, in the general semiotic
sense, not necessarily in
words, but in signs of some kind: meaningful features that
be "read" or
made sense of by people (or nonhumans, but that's another
story) in that our
meaning-mediated world, and our actions that respond to
that world
(including by trying to change or re-create it or just
it in some
new way), are affected by our encounter with the features of
the semiotic
object, according to some community interpretive practices,
with our own
individual variations on them.

At a very obvious level, bodies can be dressed up in signs:
hair styles,
tans, cosmetics. And this can be taken to a more
form with
dress, or a more physiological form with, say, body-
From tattoos
to ripped abs is a small shift when we are thinking about
body as a
writable/readable object. If we want to get still more
physiological, and
think not only about reading other people's bodies, but
reading our own,
then the proprioceptive feelings we sense within out bodies
can be
considered signs as well, whether exhilaration or nausea,
strength or
weakness, etc. The meaning of these feelings is certainly
culturally>>> mediated. They are physiological phenomena, but
they are also
meaningful> cultural phenomena, with value judgements
with intertexts in
literature, etc.

And we can deliberately write to our most physiological
states, e.g. with
drugs, to produce feelings that have cultural meanings and
values for us,
whether of calm or elation, energy or hallucination. And to
considerable> extent, our modifications of our body
can be "read" by others,
just as can our made physiques, tattoos, or hair styles.

So I would say that the body mediates our sense of the world
and ourselves
and other people in at least two ways: directly through
physiology, as with
hormonal responses, sensory modalities of perception, bodily
affordances and
dis-affordances ("handicaps" for example), etc. AND also in
these other,
clearly semiotic and cultural ways, as a semiotic artifact,
well as with
the cultural overlays of meaning that lie over and color the
meanings and
responses to all the direct physiological mediations.

I do not, however, know what being wooden on a rainy day
like to a


Jay Lemke
Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
Educational Studies
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
www.umich.edu/~jaylemke <http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke> <
http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke> <

Visiting Scholar
Laboratory for Comparative Human Communication
University of California -- San Diego
La Jolla, CA
USA 92093

On Dec 7, 2009, at 4:14 AM, Mabel Encinas wrote:

Ok. You have a point. Then, lets start thinking from an
embodied approach

Let's accept that the body is an artifact. What is then the
difference>> between a chair and the body. Both are yes,
"products of human art", as you
express it. However, only in the process (practice) there
seem to be a
difference. Both are material and ideal (the body is not
separated from the
mind; the chair, this one here that I feel is made of cloth
and a cushioned
material, plastic, metal, and involves the ideal that a
designer and workers
in a factory transformed so people could seat on). What is
the difference?

Date: Mon, 7 Dec 2009 22:53:40 +1100
From: ablunden@mira.net
To: liliamabel@hotmail.com
Subject: Re: [xmca] bodies and artifacts

Well, the body is the body is the body. The reason the
question arises for me is when we make generalisations in
which things like person, artefact, consciousness, concept,
action, and so on, figure, where does the body fit in? My
response was that even though it is obviously unique in many
ways, it falls into the same category as artefacts.

My questions to you are: what harm is done? why is anything
ignored? And, what is the body if it is not a material
product of human art, used by human beings?


Mabel Encinas wrote:

Is this way being fruitful? That is why I do not like to
consider the
body as an artifact. Did not cognitive pscyhology do
(Bruner, Acts
of Meaning). Then intentions and all the teleological
aspects are so
much ignored...


Date: Mon, 7 Dec 2009 20:21:09 +1100
From: ablunden@mira.net
To: liliamabel@hotmail.com
Subject: Re: [xmca] bodies and artifacts

Sure. But the body has been constructed like a living
machine - the various artefacts that you use
(especially but
not only language and images) are "internalized" in some
way. So one (external) artefact is replaced by another
(internal) artefact. Yes?


Mabel Encinas wrote:

However, sometimes practices do not involve other artefact
than the body (some practices are directed to the
and that was
why I was talking about the limit of thinking about the
body as
artefact... is that a limit? That is why I mentioned
body as "the
raw material". I was thinking for example practices
linked to
and the like, for example, among many others.

Keep your friends updated— even when you’re not signed in.

Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov $20 ea


Windows Live Hotmail: Your friends can get your Facebook
updates, right
from Hotmail®.


xm:SI_SB_4 :092009_______________________________________________>>>>
mailing list

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list

Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov $20 ea

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

-----Inline Attachment Follows-----

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list