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

Another quick thought on the competing models of learning and how these
models become common sense or taken for granted folk psychological ways of
orienting to the world. The  power of metaphors to conventionalize a
cultural imaginary seems to be  central to this transformative process that
develops various cognitive models at the implicit or tacit level.  Andy
points to the historical processes that lead to a particular metaphor
structuring our cognition [the zeitgeist]. As I read his comments
he suggests it is the current technologies being used and developed which
transforms our guiding metaphors and not the internal debates among
scholars.  If technological transformation  "constitutes"  metaphorical
transformation [stronger term than influences] then how do we consciously
engage with these transformative technological processes to influence the
zeitgeist [as a dialogue among models] ? At the level of common sense folk
psychological metaphors of learning are university debates leading the way
or charting where the technology has taken us?
The underlying question is, How do we get teachers to incorporate
alternative models of learning and cognition which run counter to common


On Wed, Jan 12, 2011 at 4:37 AM, Michael Glassman <MGlassman@ehe.osu.edu>wrote:

> Hi David,
> I sort of feel like the human relationship with information has changed in
> very fundemental ways over the last ten years.  Phenomena like the Web,
> Google, FaceBook, the Open Source movement have moved incredibly quickly.
>  Some academic urban legends are rising up, such as the idea that the
> computer in some way changes the structure of wiring of the brain
> (absolutely no evidence, or even proto-evidence for this I can.)  But I
> think it is a combination of fear and confusion.  You have first amendment
> lawyers like Floyd Abrams arguing against free speech on the Internet.  You
> have brutal authoritarians like Putin signing executive orders making
> Russian government completely Open Source by 2015 (my guess is he has no
> idea what Open Source actually is).  The whole thing is mind boggling.
> I think of cognitivist, behaviorists socio cultural theorists, etc, etc.
> arguing over who bats next, not realizing that the rules of the game are
> completely changing.  Changing in ways we don't even have a vocabulary to
> talk about yet.
> Michael
> ________________________________
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of David H Kirshner
> Sent: Tue 1/11/2011 10:45 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: RE: [xmca] Brains, Computer, and the Future of Education
> Larry,
> 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.
> David
> -----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
> Mike,
> The band wagon may not be a strong enough metaphor.  The image of a
> steam
> 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
> these
> explanations and believe that neuroscience is finally getting to the
> "heart"
> 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'
> articles
> 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
> ideas
> 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
> would
> appreciate an  article for a general audience that I could hand out to
> start
> 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
> educators
> 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
> concepts.
> One of the principals in a school I work in is attending this
> conference,
> and principals do have influence in school cultures.  I hope to
> influence
> her.
> Larry
> 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.
> > mike
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