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Re: [xmca] Brains, Computer, and the Future of Education

Thanks for that Daivd. A great account.
But the way you put it makes the balance of power between the various currents simply a matter internal to the argument between them, not to mention your verdict that the most narrowminded win! But surely the ebb and flow of these struggles are also heavily dependent on change in the field of new technologies, and change in the Zeitgeist such as produced the shift from biological to environmental and back to biological explanations of human differences that has taken place over the past century?


David H Kirshner wrote:

Here's my sociology of science account of the rise of brain studies as a
substitute for learning theory.

1. In Kuhnian terms, psychology is a preparadigmatic science. For
instance, learning is variously studied in behavioral, cognitive,
developmental, and sociocultural schools that conceive of learning in
fundamentally distinct ways.
2. The grand motive of preparadigmatic science is establishment of
paradigmatic consensus. Each school is in competition with the others to
unify the field under its umbrella by coming to accommodate the
interests of the other schools while still preserving the essence of its
own unique perspective. Most often this competition is implicit, but
periodically it leads to open conflict as in Chomsky's repudiation of
Skinner's effort to account for "Verbal Behavior," or in the flare up in
the late '90s between James Greeno and John Anderson and company over
cognitivist efforts to account for the situated character of learning.
3. The dominant paradigm in any period always is the one to most
strenuously pursue hegemonic designs on the field. The cognitivists'
embracing of the rhetoric of situativity has cost them dearly: they no
longer can forefront the technical machinery of information processing
theory and artificial intelligence computer simulation as their central
technical method and theoretical thrust. This is really a crisis point
for cognitivists. They gained prominence through the Information
Processing approach, and are coasting along on their reputation.
Embracing brain science enables them to maintain the surface features of
dynamic "science," while providing a convenient disguise for the fact
that there's no longer a central metaphor for learning that is being
elaborated and developed by that community.

4. Projecting this forward a decade or so, we have the likelihood of
diminishment of the importance of the cognitivist umbrella, and renewed
opportunity for the other schools to push toward the front of the pack.
...should be lots of fun.


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
On Behalf Of Larry Purss
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 7:37 AM
To: lchcmike@gmail.com; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Brains, Computer, and the Future of Education


The band wagon may not be a strong enough metaphor.  The image of a
roller seems more accurate.  I mentioned earlier that the term ZPD is
now a
recognized term in many school settings [as scaffolding].  However this
alternative metaphor of mind as computer or mind  as brain is a far more
powerful metaphor in schools. Often school staffs are fascinated with
explanations and believe that neuroscience is finally getting to the
of the matter [couldn't resist the contradictary metaphor]. Brain
science as
an explanation of learning is becoming   the dominant narrative in
many school debates.  I was wondering if there are any "simplified'
for a general audience that engage with these neuro/brain metaphors that
would lead to school staffs possibly having a dialogue [by introducing
dought]  I have shared a few articles with interested staff who love
but they were too "theoretical" for a staff discussion.

With this steam roller comes the call for justifying your practice in
schools by using "best practices" which are "evidence based".  This
evidence often is dominated by evidence from neuroscience

 I have attempted to introduce sociocultural perspectives into the
debate in
 response to the neuro/brain social representations of learning but I
appreciate an  article for a general audience that I could hand out to
a dialogue among school staffs.

Mike, I believe this frame of reference is not a "fad" or a "band wagon"
but is developing into a "conventionalized" metaphor which most
may use to explain "learning" in  schools.  Fad indicates a transitory
phenomena and neuroscience seems a longer lasting  phenomena.

I am looking for an article that does not refute or contradict the
neuroscience explanations but rather LINKS the  ideas to sociocultural

One of the principals in a school I work in is attending this
and principals do have influence in school cultures.  I hope to


On Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 8:07 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

The bandwagon is visible coming over the horizon!
Check it out at http://www.learningandthebrain.com/brain28.html.
Join for just the price of a click and a clack.
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