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Re: [xmca] Fwd: [COGDEVSOC] Looking for Amazing University Grads to help us do Research to Improve Children's Lives

 this quote from Adele Diamond triggered further thoughts on situated
cognition. She wrote,

"There’s considerable evidence that* physical exercise* improves how the
brain and mind work (especially prefrontal cortex and executive functions).
I think communal dance will confer even more benefit to prefrontal cortex
and executive functions because it requires exercising executive functions
(and exercising them has been shown to improve them) and brings joy and a
sense of social inclusion (both of which are beneficial for prefrontal
cortex and executive functions). Indeed, studies with older adults have
found that the ‘dancing makes you smarter’ "

Adele Diamond, using the Bodrova-Leong curriculum, is exploring shared
coordinated activitiesand the impact on self-regulation.  Julie Cheville's
research on "embodied cognition" also explores movement as central to
developing cognitive processes.  Cheville in her article "Confronting the
Problem of Embodiment" documents a research study that focused on women's
basketball and how playing the game of basketball as a shared and
coordinated activity profoundly altered cognitive processes.

 Following is a summary of her ethnographic research on what she refers to
as "embodied cognition"  Her ethnographic approach is attempting to
empirically validate Lakoff and Mark Johnson's theory of the centrality of
metaphor in human activity. Cheville's interpretation of the dynamics of
basketball on cognitive processes adds insight to the complexity
of socioculturally  shared activities [like basketball or dance classes]
to influence the trajectory of situated cognitive development. Her research
is a contribution to how the relation of mind and activity is shaped by
socioHISTORICAL features that embody space with latent meaning that
preexists learners. Walkerdine is quoted by Cheville as stating, "Situated
cognition ...  is not people thinking in different contexts, but subjects
PRODUCED differently in different practices."

With this perspective in mind Cheville first documented how historically
female basketball players experienced their sporting bodies as OBJECTS of
culture. Cheville focused her research on the SPATIALITY of basketball as a
codified activity that demands a heightened sense of containment.  The rules
of basketball sanction DISTINCT patterns of mobility, space, and time.  From
Mark Johnson's theory a sense of CONTAINMENT is an embodied cognition that
arises from CONCRETE experiences of "in" and "out" and orients the person to
RECOGNIZE and IDENTIFY with distal or proximal conditions, even in an
ideational realm.  Johnson asserts that,

"when we actually move from one place to another, we experience ourselves as
traversing a path from one bounded area to another.  This experience ...
provides a basis for our understanding of negation"

Cheville points out "In effect, the recurring physical experience of being
"inside" and "outside" culturally codified spatialboundaries SHAPES an
individual's abstract, or non-physical, understanding as actor or spectator,
accepted or negated, insider or outsider. This perspective supports a
neo-Meadian theory of social CONCRETE acts as developing perspectives and
reflection.  However, Cheville would add the distinctin that particular
types of spatial movement produce self-reflection whereas other forms of
spatial movement produce self-reflexive dialogiacal engagement.  Mark
Johnson's theory explores the distinctions between types of spatial

I would add Mark Johnson's insights on embodied cognition could also add
explanatory power to Adele Diamond's research on dance as beneficial for
cognitive development.  It also could add explanatoryinsights into the
particular spatial movements within the zone of proximal development that
promote reflexive dialogical participation in contrast to
abstract self-reflection.

Basketball has codified rules which discourage physical use of force [in
contrast to rugby or football] Instead the rules of basketball privilege the
diffusion of INTERRELATED bodies across the court with the objective of the
SYNCHRONIC motion of 5 players across court space. SYSTEMIC BALANCE of
coordinated movement is central to playing basketball.

Cheville writes, "According to Johnson, the embodied schematic structure
that orients one to systemic balance has a profound effect not just on
activity BUT ON COGNITION. With recurring experiences of balance, an
EMBODIED MENTAL STRUCTURE arises that inclines one to RECOGNIZE balanced
personalities, balanced views, balanced systems, the balance of power, the
balance of justice, and so on as a REFLEXIVE cognitive orientation.

Phil Jackson describes basketball as "a sport that involves the subtle
interweaving of players at full speed to the point where they are thinking
and moving as one. To do that successfully, they need to trust each other on
a deep level and know instinctively how their teammates will respond..."
Thinking and moving as one produces reflexive cognition. In contrast to
reflexive cognition Cheville suggests learners who are culturally oriented
to a conceptual propositional framework  are biased to emphasize REFLECTIVE
cognition in contrast to reflexive dialogical cognition.

Cheville's ethnographic contribution to scholarship investigates the
PRODUCTIVE influence of codified culture on the human body and how
particular habitual bodily states [such as balance and containment]  are
shaped by sociohistorical forces that preexist and PREDETERMINE individuals.
In Cheville's study she documents how  historically constituted basketball
LEGISLATION constituted the female sporting body which has altered the
female basketball body over time.  Both LEGISLATION and REPRESENTATION of
the female sporting body IMPOSED temporal, spatial, even aesthetic,
CONSTRAINTS on the movement of the body.  These cultural expectations of
comportment and presentation proved consequential for how the female
basketball players in Cheville's ethnographic study oriented to their lived
world.  Female basketball offered the opportunity for more liberatory
experiences of motion, and balance as the female athletes had the
opportunity to SYNCHRONIZE their bodies in a way that made EMBODIED
CONSCIOUSNESS, in its most REFLEXIVE dimension, possible.  Successful play
demanded that players operate in a relational matrix that defied
individualism. Relational activity required one to move BEYOND POSITIONAL
KNOWLEDGE to a deeper sense for all options possible at the other four
positions on the court.  Only by "being there" together in body did players
enter into reflexive consciousness.  The orchestration of bodily activity
was the means to a collective mind set.

For novices, there was an expectation that the player learn to adjust one's
body to new spatial and temporal dimensions as they learned the knowledge of
systemic balance. For the novice to only know their "own little world" of
positional play was to know nothing at all.  Each participant had to learn
to know in the manner of her teammates.  Taking responsibility for this way
of knowing was considered the primary obligation of novices.  As Cheville
comments "while language played a mediational role, the PERCEPTUAL process
of young players was largely determined by the exhaustive synchronization of
bodily activity across a season of play.  While the schema for systemic
balance was primary, the CONTAINMENT schema was perhaps most basic."
Johnson suggests one's sense of containment arises from CONCRETE experiences
of "in" and "out".

 Culturally CODIFIED boundaries shape a persons abstract or non-physical
understanding of self:

as agentic actor or spectator and audience
as accepted or negated
as insider or outsider

The containment schema is primary. A frequent figurative metaphor for the
players was a connection of the basketball court as "home" House as metaphor
is one of the greatest powers of integration for the thoughts memories and
dreams of mankind [Gaston Bachelard] Mark Johnson suggests embodied schemata
such as "home" extend into NETWORKS of figurative meaning, a process Johnson
calls "metaphorical extension" The players narratives often expressed the
extension of the image schemata into the metaphor of "home"  The player felt
the moral requirement to contribute to the care and cultivation of the space
she inhabited with the other players.  The metaphor of home served the
partnership of mind and body as place-making responsibilities. This metaphor
of home was transformative for the player.

The central feature of playing basketball was learning "reflexive" thought
"which emphasizes engagement with an 'other', opportunities to maintain
dialogue and negotiate PERCEPTION, a sense of agency, and an emphasis on
understanding, not just knowledge."

Cheville suggests some may argue that reflexive understanding is not
something postsecondary institutions should feel bound to foster, but she
believes that students need the opportunity to use a wider range of mental
schemata that represents a commitment to cultural diversity.  How the human
body is oriented in the context of activity DETERMINES what cognitive
structures are available to learners. As Cheville states, "Concern for how
cognition is embodied upends the traditional philosophical and scientific
insistence that language liberates one's mind from the material conditions
of his or her body. Attention to the MEDIATIONAL influence of bodily
activity represents an exciting opportunity to interrogate educational
practices long promoted as disembodied."  The human body is BOTH a cultural
codified product and a subjective tool.  The notion of embodied cognition
challenges the bias to understand social activity as the sole pivot on which
the relation of culture and cognition hinges.

I hope  I have been able to capture the central ideas of Cheville as she
extends Mark Johnson's metaphorical understanding of the embodied mind and
cognition.  I believe it may add to Mead's understanding of the social act
as mediating the intersubjective development of reflective and reflexive
cognition within sociohistorical contexts


On Sat, Nov 20, 2010 at 12:44 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

> Oh my look at this! I was just discussing this line of work vis a vis xmca
> interest in play and Vygotskian theory (since prof D used the Bodrova-Leong
> curriculum).
> The method of double stimulation as the way to improve children's lives!
> Amazing.
> mike
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Adele Diamond <Adele.Diamond@ubc.ca>
> Date: Sat, Nov 20, 2010 at 11:11 AM
> Subject: [COGDEVSOC] Looking for Amazing University Grads to help us do
> Research to Improve Children's Lives
> To: cogdevsoc@list.mail.virginia.edu
> *Seeking a few Amazing People to help us do Research to Improve Children’s
> Lives*
> <<...>>
> We have applied for funding to test promising early interventions with
> children and youths to do what is so crucially needed -  to help prevent
> disorders of* executive functions* before they develop.
> Throughout human history, across* all* cultures,* storytelling & dance*
> have
> been part of the human condition.  I hypothesize that the dearth of these
> in
> many children’s experience today may be one of the reasons children’s
> executive functions are apparently worse now than in the past.
> Info on one of the studies we hope to conduct :
> There’s considerable evidence that* physical exercise* improves how the
> brain and mind work (especially prefrontal cortex and executive functions).
> I think communal dance will confer even more benefit to prefrontal cortex
> and executive functions because it requires exercising executive functions
> (and exercising them has been shown to improve them) and brings joy and a
> sense of social inclusion (both of which are beneficial for prefrontal
> cortex and executive functions). Indeed, studies with older adults have
> found that the ‘dancing makes you smarter’
> (Kattenstroth<
> http://frontiersin.org/neuroscience/profiles/Jan-ChristophKattenstroth/>et
> al., 2010) and reduces the risk of dementia by a whopping 76% (more
> than
> any other activity studied, including reading, crossword puzzles, or other
> physical activity).  We want to compare the efficacy of aerobics versus
> resistance training versus the type of salsa known as Rueda in improving
> executive functions, academic achievement, self-image, and physical fitness
> in 8th graders, with one- and two-year follow-up.
> We are looking for a few AMAZING people to work with us, such as Honors or
> Phi Beta Kappa university graduates.  People who are
>    - experienced in doing experimental psychological research and/or
>         administering standardized measures to children
>         - able to grasp things quickly & able to learn with minimal
>         instruction
>         - terrific with children and youth -- both typically-developing and
>         those with diagnoses of anything from ADHD to autism
>         - incredibly organized & resourceful
>         - cheerful & upbeat
>         - *very* detail-oriented; able to stay on top of many details
>         simultaneously
>         - committed to making a difference in children’s lives
>         - willing to commit at least 2 years to the project
> Check out our lab website:*****
> **www.devcogneuro.com***<http://www.devcogneuro.com>
> **********
> We are in gorgeous Vancouver, BC at UBC.
> Position could start in Summer 2011, 2012, or 2013.
> We don’t know if we’ll receive funding, but by the time we hear many of the
> best people will already have committed themselves for the next academic
> year.
> So please keep us in mind.
> To be considered, should we receive funding, please email:
>    - a cover letter talking about your interests and background
>         - your resume or CV
>         - and please arrange for 3 letters of reference to be sent to:
> email: *** ****info@devcogneuro.com*** <%20info@devcogneuro.com>**
> thanks so much,
> *Adele Diamond*
> Canada Research Chair Tier 1 Professor of Developmental Cognitive
> Neuroscience
>        Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia (UBC), &
>        Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, BC Children's Hospital,
> Vancouver
> __________________________________________
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