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Re: [xmca] abolish schools?
Unlike Andy, I was amused. I was particularly amused by the suggestion that sex education be replaced by licensing a Japanese porn channel, so that children have to figure out how to make the beast with two backs by watching unclothed salarymen eat sushi off of naked secretaries. That should give young imaginations a workout..
If you look at the right margin of the essay you will see another piece that advocates the creation of cigarettes which will kill us absolutely painlessly at the moment of retirment, and thus save companies billions on pensions. As the article advertises in its opening sentences, it's really not about education at all; it's about budget cuts, and it is in its way just as effective as the sort of thing thta Megan Fox and her boyfriend are doing in California.
So I think that the article is a little like the character "bamboo" written with a bamboo brush, a kind of Zen example of what it proposes. It's a piece of Speiss, an entertainment with a very small dose of truth mixed in and mixed up and spread out to the point where it is largely useless except as a good romp, a good rant, a good intellectual rumpus.
Games are already part of school, of course. Our own Wagner Luiz Schmit is already doing some very interesting work along these lines. There is a school in Sweden which teaches entirely through role play games (but these are generally NOT of the online variety, and they can involve, for example, rousing the boarding students in the middle of the night to go and translate simulated telegrammes from German to English so that the "captain" can decide whether or not to alter course to help rescue a sinking ship.
Yongho Kim, my former graduate student, figured out a way to replace the cartoon animations in our CD ROM textbook with "avatars" created from photographs of the children themselves. Interestingly, he discovered that the third and fourth graders were extremely motivated and anxious to have their avatars on view, but the fifth and sixth graders sometimes asked that the teacher use the original characters instead. This suggests that avatars follow the basic laws that govern anything else having to do with the fragile "invisible friend" that is the child's developing self: what is developmentally positive at one moment will grow to negate itself in the next.
Yes, it is certainly true that major corporations in Korea have "teams" for playing internet RPG games and that kids know the star players and revere them. But it is equally true that in Korea internet addiction is recognized as a very serious social problem, and there is a good deal more on internet addiction in school books and ad campaigns that target children than, say, drugs or sex education.
I was much more interested in the article's remarks on the sociogenesis of public schooling, actually. I agree with the author that compulsory schooling is a modern invention; I note that he correctly identified its Prussian origins, and the fact that it was from the inception connected with supplying literate labor for factory work.
But above all I agree with the idea that prior to schooling there was a spontaneous, or "everyday" zone of proximal development evolving on the playground, brought into being by children of different developmental stages playing the same game. I also agree with the idea that in this spontaneously generated zone of proximal development, imaginary tigers replaced real dangers, that ONE of the functionalist sources of play was to avoid the inevitable attrition that "learning through discovery" led to in primitive peoples, although I tend to think this was an exaptation rather than an initial design feature.
So much for the idea that the zone of proximal development only exists in schools. The deliberately engineered zone is a very recent invention and so in some ways it is not a very good one yet. But of course, the same thing could be said of the internet.
Seoul National University of Education
--- On Sat, 4/10/10, Colette Murphy <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Colette Murphy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [xmca] abolish schools?
To: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
Date: Saturday, April 10, 2010, 2:24 AM
Please see this article - I'd be very grateful for any feedback, particularly re the comments pertaining to Korea...
Thanks a lot
Dr Colette Murphy
School of Education
Belfast BT7 1NN
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