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Re: [xmca] Re: literacy? and its meanings

I'm writing this on a computer which, probably much like the one you are reading this on, does not have a floppy disk drive. Nevertheless, the word processing software I use has a little "icon" of a floppy disk. On the way to work, the fellow next to me on the subway was sending a text message to somebody on his cell phone, and when he pushed the "send" button, a cute little animation of an old-fashioned paper envelope appeared, tumbled gracefully on the screen, and whooshed away. Outside my window I can see an enormous LED light panel beaming the face of an analogue clock tower through the snow descending on Seoul.
It seems to me that these are three examples of one and the same phenomenon, and that it is the same phenomenon that Mike and Sylvia Scribner wrote about in "The Psychology of Literacy" where they discuss why the creation of a literacy for the Vai people did not lead to the creation of a literature. 
It may even be the same one that Vygotsky, and Tolstoy, refer to when they say that the word is always ready when the concept is ready but that the reverse is not at all true: new concepts are not necessarily ready when we teach children new words in a new language.
In all three of my examples, there is a new technical device for signifying, but there is really no new content to signify, and so instead the new technology becomes a kind of futuristic fossil, referring back to an antiquated content and even standing, as a substitute for and even a barrier to, the creation of new ideas. 
It seems to me the same thing is true of the use of Vai script for writing letters about funeral donations instead of elegies, and even the use of "Listen and Repeat" to teach children about the English article, plurals and singulars, and the way in which "I am feeling happy" functions as a verb and not a noun in English. In each case we have a paradox: instead of new content creating the need for new forms, we have an apparently unnecessary new form grasping about futilely for any available straw of new content.
Trotsky writes with disgust about listening to his first radio broadcast, the Christmas Day sermon of the "arch-druid of Rome" from Saint Peter's Square, and remarks that the brilliant spark of man's creativity is drowning in technological excrement. 
I'm afraid I have exactly the same reaction when I saw the latest Harry Potter movie on the plane, with a string of zooms and trackings instead of a plot, grunts and groans instead of a script, and a circus of computer-enhanced pretty faces and grotesques instead of characters. 
A colleague of mine, down the hall, is designing new kind of middle school textbook to be served to children on a device like a Kindle. When I looked at them, they looked almost exactly like the middle school books I taught with when I came to Korea at the end of the last century, except that when you touch the screen, a computer-animated book turns its own page for you. 
As my grandmama used to say, Feh!
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

--- On Tue, 12/29/09, Jay Lemke <jaylemke@umich.edu> wrote:

From: Jay Lemke <jaylemke@umich.edu>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: literacy? and its meanings
To: lchcmike@gmail.com, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Tuesday, December 29, 2009, 12:16 PM

I hope xmca-ers realize that in this discussion of literacies and multimodality, Mike and I have been having a bit of fun by challenging one another over matters of emphasis and definition, while we fundamentally agree on the basic issues.

It does sometimes happen that in our excitement over the possibilities for new media literacies, some of us speak as if these would replace older, traditional "print" literacies. But I think we know that what happens in such cases historically is much like what happens developmentally: the new modalities and practices build on, add to, and in adding also partially transform as well as extend and amplify the value of the earlier practices.

It helps to be clear about what the special affordances of verbal text are, both from the lexis grammar and semantics of language as such as a resource and from the specialized uses of writing as a semiotic technology. We need to see these, as Mike points out, as social practices embedded in wider activities, because it is in these functional contexts that we can then begin to appreciate what happens when verbal text literacy combines with literacy in other media in new multimodal genres and their associated social practices.

The combination, as I have argued for a long time now, is not replacive, with new literacies making old ones obsolete, nor even additive, with new media simply standing side-by-side with older ones, but something closer to "multiplicative", where the combinations allow more ways of meaning, and more things that can be meant, by virtue of their mutual contextualization (as for example when something funny emerges from an image and its caption in a cartoon, even though there is nothing funny about either separately). To make the conjoint meaning across modalities, you need to be able to make the meanings within each separate modality, and then re-read each in terms of the other, even if in familiar genres we often do this so quickly and automatically that it seems like the first step was skipped. And even more evidently is this the case when we are designing and producing multimodal media.

If education's responsibility is empowerment, then critical facility with new media all the more requires well-developed literacy in both the old media and all the multimodal components, including obviously verbal text literacies, of the new. Students must be able not simply to interpret the whole range of significant social media and genres, and to process them critically when they wish to, and even to produce some relevant range of media to express and engage, but they also need to be able to intelligently choose and select which media and genres, and which mixes of them, will best serve their own purposes on each occasion. 

If that much is agreed, we can still debate and explore the issues of how to teach, in what order to teach, and how much emphasis to place on all these essential skills and associated knowledges. Though the result will not, I hope, be a single one-size fits all prescriptive curriculum, and especially not one that privileges isolated, decontextualized, separate skills.


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 29, 2009, at 8:15 AM, mike cole wrote:

> Somehow the discussion of conceptions of literacy and its relation to
> inscriptions that represent spoken language (visually, or tactilely)
> got off track, probably mea culpa. I get very nervous when the meanings of
> literacy as ability to interpret and deploy codes in different media and
> mixtures of media are conflated with something like "knowledge in a domain."
> Literacy as I understand it requires
> the combination of both, and of course in relevant social practices.
> Attached is an article from 2005 Annual Review of Applied Linguistics on the
> topic of PRINT literacy. Upon request I can post (and I am certain dozens of
> others can post) research on literacies
> in other domains, in my case, film literacy.
> With respect to the importance of literacy practices. The following
> characterization of work done in the late 1970's may be relevant. It is from
> the longer article attached so that those not interested can hit delete and
> get on with their holidays!!
> Scribner and Cole’s (1981) work also persuasively introduced the concept of
> literacy practices. Rather than seeing literacy as a set of portable,
> decontextualized information processing skills which individuals applied,
> Scribner and Cole reframed literacy as a set of socially organized practices
> (conceptually parallel to religious
> practices, childrearing practices, etc.) in which individuals engaged.
> mike
> On Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 4:06 AM, Luisa Aires <laires11@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Jay
>> I couldn’t agree with you more.* *I think that when we talk about literacy
>> -
>> a cultural construct also – we must take into account the different
>> contexts, internationalities, agents that use it.
>> I am trying to develop some strategies to promote digital literacy (taking
>> into account Mike, Olga and Colbs´ perspectives in 5thDimension) and I
>> privilege Warschauer´s definition about literacy - “ literacy is understood
>> as a set of social practices”. What do you think about this point of
>> view*?*
>> * *
>> Finally: I’m fascinated with this discussion thread- a mature way to
>> co-construct knowledge.
>> Luísa
>> (Universidade Aberta, PT)
>> 2009/12/29 Jay Lemke <jaylemke@umich.edu>
>>> Mike,
>>> I am sure that some people have thought about dumping Print Literacy in
>>> favor of more modern literacies. I once reviewed an actually rather
>>> brilliant book by Mihai Nadin called the Civilization of Illiteracy (by
>>> which he meant what I would call Post-Literacy), and the argument was
>> that
>>> we were already post-literate in that it is really the wide range of
>>> semiotic literacies of all kinds that matters today, and within that
>> print
>>> is just one component part and no longer The Literacy as it may have been
>> in
>>> earlier times.
>>> I also once contributed to a book about media literacies in a
>>> "post-typographical" world, the editors choice of term, by which they
>> meant
>>> something similar. And one of my most influential articles presents the
>>> basic thesis that scientific discourse was never a purely verbal-textual
>>> discourse, but by the nature of its objects of study, was always
>> essentially
>>> multi-modal (verbal-visual-mathematical at least). The key idea here is
>> that
>>> "print" (i.e. verbal text) cannot stand alone; that to get the meaning,
>> you
>>> need to integrate across the modalities (language, image, mathematics).
>>> Now maybe print never did really stand on its own. Jim Gee has argued for
>>> example that in making meaning with purely verbal text we still envision
>>> images and run little "movies" in our heads in the process of
>> disambiguating
>>> meanings and contextualizing what we are "reading". But I think we know
>> that
>>> historically there was a period when Print tried to stand on its own, and
>>> that claims have been made for a long time, and very successfully, that
>> it
>>> can and even should stand on its own. Personally, I think that Gee is
>> mostly
>>> right in principle, contextualizing linguistic meaning does generally
>>> involve some nonlinguistic meaning resources, present or imagined, but
>> that
>>> some kinds of very abstract discourse rely mostly on other texts for
>> their
>>> contextualization, trying to create a closed world of linguistic meaning.
>>> Unfortunately, I also believe that the resulting discourses become
>> un-moored
>>> from experiential reality and even from the virtual reality of imagined
>>> worlds.
>>> As I wrote before, every time I've tried to get a useful and believable
>>> definition of literacy, starting from print literacy, I've found myself
>>> winding up with something pan-semiotic. That doesn't mean that
>> analytically
>>> separable semiotic resource systems, like language, and technologies,
>> like
>>> "printed" verbal text (on Kindle or on kindling) don't have their own
>>> specialized functional affordances which are not easily substituted by
>> those
>>> of other modalities. The "mot juste", the synthetic diagram, the
>>> mathematical-algebraic derivation, the engaging narrative ... they are
>> all
>>> irreplaceable resources as far as I'm concerned.
>>> But none of them are also the last word in doing what they do. Defined
>>> functionally, I think we more generally find that multimodal solutions to
>>> functional tasks can work better and are often already, implicitly at
>> work
>>> in what appear to be mono-modal works.
>>> JAY.
>>> PS. I agree that there is no clear-cut distinction among knowledge
>>> literacies and semiotic resource literacies, because knowledge is itself
>> a
>>> resource in meaning-making (productive and interpretive), and even
>> moreso,
>>> when we consider intertextual systems as resources, or narratives as
>>> resources. I once wrote a piece about this which no one seemed to
>>> understand, and I am not sure I understood it either. It involves
>>> re-conceptualizing knowledge as more like a discursive resource, and
>>> re-conceptualizing semiotic resource systems so that they can be more
>>> syntagmatic rather than, as canonically, primarily or exclusively
>>> paradigmatic.  It may be our intuitive sense of this that leads us to the
>>> metaphorical range we have for the term "literacy".
>>> Jay Lemke
>>> Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
>>> Educational Studies
>>> University of Michigan
>>> Ann Arbor, MI 48109
>>> www.umich.edu/~jaylemke <http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke>
>>> Visiting Scholar
>>> Laboratory for Comparative Human Communication
>>> University of California -- San Diego
>>> La Jolla, CA
>>> USA 92093
>>> On Dec 22, 2009, at 4:56 PM, mike cole wrote:
>>>> Thanks for the comments, Larry. My comment was that LCHC had
>>>> a near-death experience. Its past, but with UC experiencing its own
>>>> near-death experience, no harm in practicing "nearer my lord to thee--
>>>> catchy tune. I see that Steve G has posted a 25 year old account of the
>>> lab
>>>> up to that time. Incomplete and audience-driven as that account was,
>> some
>>>> relevant material-- thanks for pointing it out, Steve. There is also,
>> at
>>> the
>>>> lchc publications link on the home page, a bunch of collective articles
>>> over
>>>> the year. New one coming along about now.
>>>> About literacy and narrative and interpretation. I guess there are just
>> a
>>>> whole lot of views of how to think about this issue. For example, in
>>> Liberia
>>>> the elder men had a special form of discourse,
>>>> meant, so far as i understand, to mystify others, signal their own
>>>> power and perhaps assess the quality of the palm wine. I suppose one
>>> could
>>>> say that they were literate in deep Kpelle. For sure, becoming literate
>>> in
>>>> English had its downside; few of those I knew at the time died of
>>> "natural"
>>>> causes, unless we want to count genocide as a natural cause among
>> humans.
>>>> I would be interested if anyone would like to defend the idea that its
>>> time
>>>> to jettison print literacy. What the heck, now that we have computer
>>>> literacy and film literacy and health literacy and financial literacy
>> and
>>>> xmca literacy, why bother with fusty old print?
>>>> Myself, i have this really arcane idea that the symbolic resources of
>>> print
>>>> literacy and numeracy, you know, written records and musical notations
>>> and
>>>> that old stuff, have some properties that just might be foundational to
>>>> Youtube and twitter (maybe the latter is just parasitic). But, since,
>> as
>>>> Latour has noted, we never have been modern, hard to be sure. May all
>> we
>>>> need to be able to do is talk the talk. The walk will come courtesy of
>>>> Rupert Murdoch?
>>>> Sure enough to think about.
>>>> :-)
>>>> mike
>>>> On Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 10:46 AM, Larry Purss <lpurss@shaw.ca> wrote:
>>>>>    Mike
>>>>> Your framework is very helpful so we can talk to each other about
>>> literacy.
>>>>> The ability to read and write is the most common meaning to understand
>>>>> literacy.
>>>>> The concept of literacy as learning particular discourses or subjects
>> is
>>>>> certainly the way postmodernism is framing literacy.
>>>>> I am also curious how these various conceptions of literacy are
>> specific
>>>>> instances of Bruner's fundamental notions of narrative structures as
>> one
>>> of
>>>>> the ways we mediate actions/interpretations through codes
>>>>> Your example in the phylogeny article where Japanese mothers refocus
>> the
>>>>> triadic communication of self, other, object to re-orient towards
>>> (m)other
>>>>> while American mothers re-orient triadic communication towards the
>>> object I
>>>>> believe has profound implications for the narrative stories we compose
>>> and
>>>>> the psychological sense of self and intrapsychic experience of inner
>> and
>>>>> outer as cultural constructions.
>>>>> If we don't want to conflate this form of interpretive activity with
>>>>> literacy we can recognize that the more particular types of  subject
>>>>> discourses are examples of the more abstract term narratives (as
>> Bruner
>>> uses
>>>>> the term)
>>>>> Is Bruner's use of the term narrative similar to the notion of
>>> hermeneutics
>>>>> as fundamentally an interpretive act?
>>>>> Mike
>>>>> I also want to draw attention to the term "meso" as an intermediate
>> term
>>>>> between micro and macro.  I consider architecture to be a particular
>> and
>>>>> profound example of human artifacts which express human
>>>>> ideality (Bruner's "Possible Worlds")  When you mention that LCHC is
>> on
>>> life
>>>>> support I wonder and reflect (I love the term "reverie") on how LCHC
>> has
>>>>> evolved for the last 40 years and that architecture as shared space
>> (or
>>>>> place) was foundational to its existence..  Architecture is a
>>>>> crystallization of reverie, artifacts, and social relations.  To
>>> understand
>>>>> the historical impact of LCHC at the meso level is central to
>> reflecting
>>> on
>>>>> next steps.
>>>>> I don't know the politics of how LCHC was created and was able to
>>> continue
>>>>> throughout the following decades.  I also don't know the current
>> forces
>>>>> aligned against the vision of LCHC.  However I personally believe the
>>>>> narrative power of LCHC and the impact it has had on pedagogy,
>>> psychology,
>>>>> communications, anthropology, cultural studies and other literate
>>> discourses
>>>>> is profound and can be articulated.  As an alternative narrative in
>> the
>>>>> current cultural wars it may be possible to project this vision into
>> the
>>>>> mass media and for LCHC to be recognized as a center of excellence as
>>>>> Obama searches for new models.
>>>>> Looking to the future and ways to support the continuity of LCHC I
>>> wonder
>>>>> if there is a continued need for reverie and considerations of action
>>> not at
>>>>> the individual level but rather at the meso level of architecture and
>>>>> location in space (place). I think about how other people who have a
>>> shared
>>>>> vision construct places (ie institutes) and then I think of how many
>>>>> people are promoting a relational paradigm shift.   I do
>>>>> wonder if  alternative narratives can emerge from private reverie and
>> be
>>>>> located in shared spaces (places) at the meso level.  It is the level
>> of
>>>>> intermediate community (Robert Nisbet) where cultural leverage can be
>>>>> applied AND SUSTAINED.
>>>>> LCHC is living proof of this, as is CHAT which is in virtual shared
>>>>> space.  Ideality when shared and acted upon to create architecture
>> which
>>> is
>>>>> inhabited has the power to counter reactionary narratives.
>>>>> I get inspiration for this view of the possible worlds created from
>>>>> narrative from a book called "Common Fire:  Leading Lives of
>> Commitment
>>> in a
>>>>> Complex World" by L. Daloz, C. Keen, J. Keen, and S. Parks. (1996)  It
>>> is an
>>>>> anthology of the biographies of  inspired people acting on their
>> visions
>>> to
>>>>> try to create a "new Commons" in a complex world.
>>>>> Larry
>>>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>>>> From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
>>>>> Date: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 7:01 am
>>>>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Fwd: Visual literacy? Surf an art museum -
>> Lifestyle
>>> -
>>>>> SignOnSanDiego.com
>>>>> To: "Duvall, Emily" <emily@uidaho.edu>
>>>>> Cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>>>> Fuller references, Emily? It would be helpful.
>>>>>> In general, in discussing this topic, I find it helpful to keep
>>>>>> in mind
>>>>>> three inter-twined conceptions of literacy in discussion of it
>>>>>> that lead to
>>>>>> confusion:
>>>>>> 1. the quality or state of being literate, esp. the ability to
>>>>>> read and
>>>>>> write.  2. possession of education: to question someone's
>>>>>> literacy.  3. a
>>>>>> person's knowledge of a particular subject or field: to acquire
>>>>>> computerliteracy.
>>>>>> To me what is significant is the (perhaps necessary, see Larry's
>>>>>> remarks)conflation of being able to mediate
>>>>>> action/interpretation through a code
>>>>>> like kanji and knowledge about some topic.
>>>>>> Forgetting this issue leads to people speaking past each other
>>>>>> with respect
>>>>>> to, e.g. computer literacy.
>>>>>> mike
>>>>>> On Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 5:39 PM, Duvall, Emily
>>>>>> <emily@uidaho.edu> wrote:
>>>>>>> One of the more interesting experiences I have had is when I was
>>>>>>> preparing to teach a course on Visual/ Critical Literacy:
>>>>>> Using Picture
>>>>>>> Books, Comics, Graphic Novels, Anime, and Film in the
>>>>>> Classroom. I sat
>>>>>>> down with vol 1 of Bone and began to read. I ignored the
>>>>>> pictures and
>>>>>>> read the text. Zipping along, I realized (a) I didn't know
>>>>>> what was
>>>>>>> going on, and (b) I was bored. I went back and spent time with the
>>>>>>> entire text and am now thoroughly addicted. It really depends
>>>>>> on the way
>>>>>>> the pictures are used... in tandem, as conjoined text; as the front
>>>>>>> runner (as in children's writing where the pictures are the
>>>>>> important> aspect a story); or an add-in (as in children's later
>>>>>> writing when
>>>>>>> pictures illustrate, but don't really tell us much... they
>>>>>> fill up time
>>>>>>> in a classroom... "go back and illustrate"). Some texts, like The
>>>>>>> Invention of Hugo Cabret, weave words and pictures and you
>>>>>> need to read
>>>>>>> them both.
>>>>>>> I highly recommend Molly Bang's theoretical work (sorry if I am
>>>>>>> repeating anything already said, I'm jumping in)to really dig deeply
>>>>>>> into the pictures; her children's books are interesting as
>>>>>> well. Anthony
>>>>>>> Browne has some pretty amazing children's books...they are
>>>>>> edgy and
>>>>>>> post-modern at times.
>>>>>>> Meanwhile I have a doc student who is working on financial
>>>>>> literacy...> there are some fundamental elements of a literacy
>>>>>> that ring across
>>>>>>> domains it seems... like discourse, eh?
>>>>>>> ~em
>>>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>>>> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-
>>>>>> bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]> On Behalf Of mike cole
>>>>>>> Sent: Monday, December 21, 2009 5:05 PM
>>>>>>> To: Jenna McWilliams
>>>>>>> Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>>>>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Fwd: Visual literacy? Surf an art museum -
>>>>>> Lifestyle> - SignOnSanDiego.com
>>>>>>> No doubt, Jenna.  And forms like Youtube allow for users
>>>>>> to be producers
>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>> a big way. But I see no need to knock museums and
>>>>>>> the pleasures of "reading" paintings that have endured over a
>>>>>> long time!
>>>>>>> (The cost can be pretty steep these days though).
>>>>>>> The "learning to see" theme runs through a lot of CHAT-related
>>>>>> work, and
>>>>>>> seems an endless source of insights.
>>>>>>> One way I find that i can learn a lot about paintings is by doing
>>>>>>> jig-saw
>>>>>>> puzzles. Jackson Pollock seemed a total fraud to me until i
>>>>>> had, with
>>>>>>> lots
>>>>>>> of friendly gossipy help, done a quite complex puzzle of one
>>>>>> of his big
>>>>>>> canvases. Now jig-saw puzzles require their own
>>>>>>> form of visual literacy, but what was amazing (a Klimpt also
>>>>>> provided a
>>>>>>> similar experience) was that I actually began to see nuances
>>>>>> in the
>>>>>>> paintings that i had simply never seen before. And once seen, the
>>>>>>> ability to
>>>>>>> see more deeply, at least for the given painting (after all
>>>>>>> generalization
>>>>>>> of the skill is a huge undertaking!)
>>>>>>> it sticks with you along with the belief of the possibility
>>>>>> that, say,
>>>>>>> a Russian 18th century icon may contain the potential for visual
>>>>>>> experiences
>>>>>>> that my naive eye, loving the combination of colors and
>>>>>> shapes, could
>>>>>>> not
>>>>>>> see.
>>>>>>> I hear what you are saying that I am seeing.
>>>>>>> :-)
>>>>>>> mike
>>>>>>> PS. Have you met Etienne Pelaprat, a great grad student here at
>>>>>>> UCSD, formerly in cogsci but completing degree in Comm, who
>>>>>> has moved to
>>>>>>> your fair city? If not, you should. He is rumored to be the sometime
>>>>>>> savior
>>>>>>> of xmca through his technical skills.
>>>>>>> On Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 4:25 PM, Jenna McWilliams
>>>>>>> <jenmcwil@umail.iu.edu>wrote:
>>>>>>>> Mike, you write:
>>>>>>>> "I managed a D+ in my one obligatory art producing class in
>>>>>> college (a
>>>>>>> work
>>>>>>>> later exhibited, by some really odd
>>>>>>>> error, in a show of student art which makes one wonder at the
>>>>>>> judgments
>>>>>>>> involved on either side of the
>>>>>>>> process!). I am a hopeless plastic arts producer. But not entirely
>>>>>>>> illiterate as a reader, finder of meanings."
>>>>>>>> It's fair enough to argue that reading and writing are not
>>>>>> equivalent> forms
>>>>>>>> of literacy. But in this crazy multimodal culture of ours, where
>>>>>>> reading and
>>>>>>>> writing both require adeptness with design proficiencies (remember
>>>>>>> that even
>>>>>>>> the text we read on the screen is a digital product--the
>>>>>> 'translation'> of
>>>>>>>> code into a specifically designed visual format that we can
>>>>>>> interpret), what
>>>>>>>> we call "visual literacy" is increasingly an essential
>>>>>> component of
>>>>>>> BOTH
>>>>>>>> reading and writing. Visual literacy goes far beyond what we
>>>>>> learned> in art
>>>>>>>> class--the color wheel and all that.
>>>>>>>> In fact, it seems a little strange to link visual literacy to
>>>>>>> museumgoing.
>>>>>>>> I bombed art class right along with the best of them, and
>>>>>> success in
>>>>>>> art
>>>>>>>> class still wouldn't have prepared me to engage in the sorts of
>>>>>>>> communications platforms that have become the most
>>>>>> significant message
>>>>>>>> delivery systems. Indeed, design and visual literacy (or
>>>>>> whatever you
>>>>>>> want
>>>>>>>> to call them) skills are so embedded in communication
>>>>>> platforms that I
>>>>>>> find
>>>>>>>> myself making design decisions without a thought (as when I
>>>>>>> re-formatted the
>>>>>>>> chunk I quoted from the previous email in this thread,
>>>>>> because when I
>>>>>>> pasted
>>>>>>>> it in the line breaks got all funky--distracting for the
>>>>>> reader!). I
>>>>>>> don't
>>>>>>>> know if the fact that visual literacy (or whatever you want
>>>>>> to call
>>>>>>> it) is
>>>>>>>> embedded within reading and writing literacy practices
>>>>>> strengthens or
>>>>>>> weaken
>>>>>>>> the case for calling it a form of literacy; I only know that
>>>>>> it's both
>>>>>>>> important and different enough from reading and writing
>>>>>> skills to
>>>>>>> deserve
>>>>>>>> its own label, if only so we know how to talk about it.
>>>>>>>> visually,
>>>>>>>> jenna
>>>>>>>> ~~
>>>>>>>> Jenna McWilliams
>>>>>>>> Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University
>>>>>>>> ~
>>>>>>>> http://jennamcwilliams.blogspot.com
>>>>>>>> http://remediatingassessment.blogspot.com
>>>>>>>> ~
>>>>>>>> jenmcwil@indiana.edu
>>>>>>>> jennamcjenna@gmail.com
>>>>>>>> On Dec 21, 2009, at 7:06 PM, mike cole wrote:
>>>>>>>> The addition of production to definitions of literacy
>>>>>> is always a
>>>>>>> good
>>>>>>>>> move
>>>>>>>>> in my view, Jay. Reading is not equivalent to writing. In
>>>>>> the case of
>>>>>>>>> visual
>>>>>>>>> literacy and museum art, it seems like what is being
>>>>>> referred to is
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>>> reading half. At least i hope so. I managed a D+ in my one
>>>>>> obligatory> art
>>>>>>>>> producing class in college (a work later exhibited, by some
>>>>>> really> odd
>>>>>>>>> error, in a show of student art which makes one wonder at the
>>>>>>> judgments
>>>>>>>>> involved on either side of the
>>>>>>>>> process!). I am a hopeless plastic arts producer. But not
>>>>>> entirely> >> illiterate as a reader, finder of meanings.
>>>>>>>>> There is, a few blocks from you apartment, a show at the SD
>>>>>> Museum of
>>>>>>>>> Contemporary Art by Tera Donavan. I think you will find it as
>>>>>>> fascinating
>>>>>>>>> as
>>>>>>>>> I did. I plan to take the family during their visit.
>>>>>> Donovan take
>>>>>>> everyday
>>>>>>>>> objects (tar paper, straws, cups, and more) and creates
>>>>>> installations> with
>>>>>>>>> thousand of only one object aggregated in the most
>>>>>> fantastic ways.
>>>>>>> She
>>>>>>>>> states her goal as wanting to explore the properties of
>>>>>> objects seens
>>>>>>> as
>>>>>>>>> parts of very large populations rather than as individual
>>>>>> objects.> The
>>>>>>>>> effects she achieves are mind boggling with the play of
>>>>>> light and
>>>>>>> texture
>>>>>>>>> over surface sufficient to reorder our perceptions in ways
>>>>>> we could
>>>>>>> never
>>>>>>>>> anticipate.Again, art as tertiary artifact, re-admired.
>>>>>>>>> Since you have written more on time scales, I'll stay away
>>>>>> from the
>>>>>>> topic
>>>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>>>> general; we have agreed too often here to warrant repitition.
>>>>>>>>> But quite specifically, our work in creating the "Fifth
>>>>>> Dimension"> was to
>>>>>>>>> be
>>>>>>>>> able to study changes in a pre-pared system of activity
>>>>>> over a long
>>>>>>> time
>>>>>>>>> period (from inception to death) at several scales of time.
>>>>>> The idea
>>>>>>> was
>>>>>>>>> part of our interest in the failure of "successful" educational
>>>>>>>>> innovations
>>>>>>>>> to be sustained-- how did they die and why and how did their
>>>>>>> implementers
>>>>>>>>> enter in to and respond to the process. Still wrestling with
>>>>>>> analysis--
>>>>>>>>> lots
>>>>>>>>> of 5thD's were born and died but others keep being born.
>>>>>> Some are,
>>>>>>> today,
>>>>>>>>> strikingly like their originals in the 1980's, others have
>>>>>> morphed so
>>>>>>> that
>>>>>>>>> only a few features remain. The children participants, who
>>>>>> are almost
>>>>>>>>> impossible to track over time are now adults -- i sometime
>>>>>> encounter> one
>>>>>>>>> at
>>>>>>>>> ucsd. The college participants are parents I sometimes hear
>>>>>> from. All
>>>>>>>>> recorded in their fieldnotes written at the time. I have
>>>>>> some money
>>>>>>> salted
>>>>>>>>> away so that "when it dies" (or if i can manage to retire before
>>>>>>> doing so
>>>>>>>>> myself) I will have the full range of instances documented
>>>>>> and a lot
>>>>>>> of
>>>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>>> data in digital form,
>>>>>>>>> so that I can look at that object from both ends of its
>>>>>> history. A
>>>>>>>>> preliminary report is in the book, *The Fifth Dimension*.
>>>>>>>>> As to LCHC, that is another matter. It seems to me a
>>>>>> certainty that
>>>>>>> it
>>>>>>>>> will
>>>>>>>>> die. It had a near-death experience a couple of years ago.
>>>>>> As a way
>>>>>>> of at
>>>>>>>>> least marking its passing, a number of former and current
>>>>>> members of
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>>> lab
>>>>>>>>> are in the process of creating a book that traces its
>>>>>> origins and the
>>>>>>> many
>>>>>>>>> offspring it has generated. THAT collective narrative I
>>>>>> hope to live
>>>>>>> long
>>>>>>>>> enough to see come into being.
>>>>>>>>> Now if Yuan or anyone would like to see LCHC live,
>>>>>> proposals for how
>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>>>> arrange that would of course be seriously entertained, and
>>>>>> perhaps> maybe
>>>>>>>>> even entertaining! I thought I saw a nibble at
>>>>>> collaboration on
>>>>>>> making
>>>>>>>>> XMCA
>>>>>>>>> a more powerful medium the other day, but it turned out to
>>>>>> be a
>>>>>>> mirage.
>>>>>>>>> So
>>>>>>>>> for now, we keep on keeping on.
>>>>>>>>> mike
>>>>>>>>> On Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 12:07 PM, Jay Lemke
>>>>>> <jaylemke@umich.edu>> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>> Thanks for the link, Mike. Was nice to see someone in the mass
>>>>>>> media,
>>>>>>>>>> affiliated with a newspaper no less, arguing for critical visual
>>>>>>> literacy
>>>>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>>>>> protect us from advertising!
>>>>>>>>>> Of course that is an old idea in visual education circles,
>>>>>> and it
>>>>>>> can
>>>>>>>>>> build
>>>>>>>>>> on the widespread folk-skepticism toward advertising.
>>>>>> Unfortunately> the
>>>>>>>>>> more
>>>>>>>>>> pernicious effects in ads are probably at subtler levels
>>>>>> than what
>>>>>>> basic
>>>>>>>>>> visual literacy skills can foreground.
>>>>>>>>>> "The ability to find meaning in images" is the definition
>>>>>> of visual
>>>>>>>>>> literacy used. That seems a little too basic. I think
>>>>>> everyone finds
>>>>>>>>>> meaning
>>>>>>>>>> in images, with or without any literacy education. Maybe
>>>>>> there is an
>>>>>>>>>> implied
>>>>>>>>>> emphasis on FIND, in the sense of digging below the
>>>>>> surface/obvious,> >>> which
>>>>>>>>>> would be better. But more recent ideas in the field put more
>>>>>>> emphasis on
>>>>>>>>>> visual production relative to interpretation, so I'd
>>>>>> probably go
>>>>>>> with a
>>>>>>>>>> definition more like "the skills of making meaning with visual
>>>>>>> resources,
>>>>>>>>>> for your own purposes", and include in that the meaning-
>>>>>> making we do
>>>>>>> with
>>>>>>>>>> others' images by way of interpretation, critique, etc.
>>>>>>>>>> Have you ever noticed that when anyone, docent, tourguide,
>>>>>> or just
>>>>>>> me,
>>>>>>>>>> speaks authoritatively about a painting in a museum, that many
>>>>>>> bystanders
>>>>>>>>>> seem to become interested in listening? People generally
>>>>>> seem to
>>>>>>> believe
>>>>>>>>>> that art images, at least, require some professional
>>>>>> interpretation> or
>>>>>>>>>> benefit from having specialist knowledge (esp.
>>>>>> historical). People
>>>>>>> also
>>>>>>>>>> seem
>>>>>>>>>> to enjoy visual interpretation more than textual. Textual
>>>>>>> interpretation
>>>>>>>>>> is
>>>>>>>>>> seen as superfluous, even obstructing to enjoyment of the
>>>>>> work. No
>>>>>>> one
>>>>>>>>>> really reads literary criticism, or book reviews beyond
>>>>>> the "it's
>>>>>>> good"
>>>>>>>>>> part. But people are fascinated by the exegesis of visual
>>>>>> works. The
>>>>>>> is
>>>>>>>>>> one
>>>>>>>>>> basis for the popularity of the DaVinci Code and similar popular
>>>>>>> works.
>>>>>>>>>> And there is not a word about visual interpretation skills
>>>>>> in our
>>>>>>>>>> standard
>>>>>>>>>> curricula (meaning as practiced in schools, there are some
>>>>>> nods in
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>>>> official standards).
>>>>>>>>>> JAY.
>>>>>>>>>> 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<http://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke<http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke>
>>>>>> <http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke <http://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke<http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke>>>
>> <
>>>>>>> http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke <http://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke<http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke>>>
>> <
>>>>>>>>>> http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke <http://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke<http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke>
>>>>>>>>>> Visiting Scholar
>>>>>>>>>> Laboratory for Comparative Human Communication
>>>>>>>>>> University of California -- San Diego
>>>>>>>>>> La Jolla, CA
>>>>>>>>>> USA 92093
>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
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>>>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
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