Subtitle: "Yep son, We have met the enemy and he is us." ("Pogo" Walt
This note is a continuation of Phillip White's contribution to this thread!
(See below) Thread did I say? It is a thick corded braid, but let's carry
on. I realize that many of you know each other, many of you have been
writing for years, teaching etc. and then some of us lurk and read and
occasionally attempt to participate. I am one of those, if you wish to bear
with me for a few moments.
Phillip mentioned Gregory Bateson and Lave and Wenger. Is that enough to
locate this work in an intellectual context, without having to drop names or
put in a lengthy bibliography? Well, I hope so, because after my undergrad
in Classics, my graduate work in various other literatures I ran into
Bateson via Co-evolution Quarterly and the Whole Earth Catalogue. Then Steps
to an Ecology of Mind.
Overleaping the problems of plagiarism and teaching, and the other ones of
learning communities and intellectual communities, easily moving to the
terminology conceptual stuff going on when specialties are bumping up
against each other and interdisciplinary studies and transdisciplinary work,
I say way too glibly we always had categorizing problems in Classics because
we were doing 2 languages at first, plus plays, poetry, philosophy, rhetoric
(I could go anywhere but I had to go somewhere) Grad school and teaching
assistantship (that's when I really started to learn Latin and also about
"cribbing"). Daily assignments in Greek (reading Aristotle) and Old English
(Beowulf). Overleaping all that and moving on to Life as an Ordinary
language teacher in Japan, I have two common experiences that have a bearing
on this discussion. A) I proof read a fellow scholar's paper and B) I proof
read my son's English composition.
I feel like The Shadow Scholar.
A, hoping to be published in an International Journal, may have done
original research but has a general and a specific context that I am not
trained in, Japanese language I do not know and scientific terminology
specific to the area and also the target journal. We do Shadow Scholar like
things. We merge our vocabulary and style with the researcher's
translation. I say we, because a friend and I have debated the level
required of editing. Grammar, spelling, flow, layout, OK. But should we
attempt to erase any sign of the awkwardness of going from one language to
another? As time goes on, the professors ask me less and less often because
they have funding for professional translators but their students do not.
The students are learning to "fake" the style so that they can give a
conference paper or have their work published -- and they don't have the
money. So, these are people at the same institution of learning, but they
are not my students. What product we put into the mix may go into the
Turnitin mill or something.
B is my son who grew up in Japan and is now aiming for University in the
States. His composition has to be original and readable. I cannot write it
for him but the process should develop his awareness of all kinds of things.
He can't give me his paper ten minutes before class for a quick fix and get
anything out of his education. I mean, there is the quick check level, of
course. Spelling, mostly, and cosmetic grammar, but pulling the ideas out
of himself to create a composition. Well, he has to do that and I can't do
it for him.
Since school, I have been interested in reception theory, Stanley Fish,
women's critical studies, and it comes down to LEVELS, set theory, paradox.
For me (a truly "ordinary" person figuring out how to live on the planet
with mega-stuff going on personally (100% divorce rate in the family),
politically (hey, I voted for Nixon because I didn't know better and got
sucked into the machine), economically (oil embargo?) and counter-culture,
leading to 30 years of being an ex-pat (has everyone already stopped
Gregory Bateson, and his intellectual lineage, plus my own work with levels
of allegorical interpretation -- the making of allegory and allegorical
exegesis -- led me to communication and the study of everything. As a
Communication foreign professor working inevitably with inter and trans
disciplinarity (which is very mushy) well, I can tell in 2 or 3 minutes if
the student I am interviewing can "hear" English, in one hand written
self-intro, find out how he organizes his mind, training, self-discipline --
tons of stuff appears. Like Borges Garden of Forking Paths, there are many
twists and turns. I do not get to pick my students or the number of
students, arrange the room, the number of times in a week or the length of
the class period. Also, I do not generally get to meet excellent people of
refinement and integrity who have no interest in English at all and do the
absolute minimum. What happens when a generalist meets a specialist? In a
non-cooperative game some things happen, but in a cooperative game (think
Kropotkin's _Mutual Aid_), well, other things happen that are completely
different, and we can't all have a resident anthropologist of Bateson's
caliber (anyway, he called himself a biologist) on the staff and it turns
out that some of these long term staff ladies know more about everything
than anyone in the faculty and they have good memories -- but they do not
have the academic training - which would have taken them out of the very
position where they do the most good -- and if you read Buckminster Fuller's
Operating Manual for _Spaceship Earth_, it turns out that specialists are
the PIRATE MASTERS OF GLOBAL COMPREHENSIVE ABILITY answer to the managing of
intellectual property, power, authorization and everything. Look for the
power behind the throne or the shadow scholar. Not Shakespeare but the
alien/meta-aristocrat genius who used him as a cover... An experiment of
uncompromised integrity in a closed system is one thing, but how about a
study in a multi-cultured open-system of systems?
We had gotten on to the mush which the quantum physics stuff was making of
everything cognitive (and making a mess of that topic) but actually, how we
process information when operating in Beta or Alpha or Theta brainwave
levels changes the terms and images by which we process, and the mode of
processing. Meanwhile Interdisciplinary Studies lead to Environmental
Studies which leads to Shell or Mobile or Exxon funded university programs
and Blue Sky acts.
I am not a Vygotskian yet, but an Engestrom afficianado, whom I found when
working with Bateson's Double Bind. But I am certainly a widely educated
scholar/teacher of a certain level and cognitive training, and follow the
discussions here with consummate interest.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On
Behalf Of White, Phillip
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 1:04 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] FW: The Shadow Scholar - He writes your students'
Greg, you wrote:
We, as educators, simply do not do justice when it comes to teaching
students to use multiple sources in primary and secondary school.
I think though, instead of trying to catch plagiarism we need to teach
students to use multiple sources and introduce academic discourses much
earlier in education. It is the only way to stop the cycle of Colleges
claiming high schools are to blame and high schools laying the blame at the
doors of middle schools.
having taught MA and PhD classes in education for the last twelve years or
so, and for the last several years i'm also working with undergraduate
students who wish to become elementary school teachers it has not been lost
on me that many students are not fluent writers.
following my understandings of Gregory Bateson's theory of systems, i
subscribe to the notion that an individual can't "change" a system, but an
individual can change her/himself;
also, building on my understandings of Lave & Wenger's writings on
legitimate peripheral participation & aprenticeship, not to mention
Vygotsky's theories of learning as embedded in social activities and
and remembering my days in elementary education when kindergarten teachers
would complain that parents weren't adequately preparing their children for
school with the necessary skills for kindergarten;
i decided to build a strand of writer's workshop within classroom
instructional time so that students working together in cooperative groups
would jointly compose major written products that would be handed in at the
end of the semester.
and i could rove from group to group keeping my own monitoring notes
regarding individual student progress to give me deeper understandings
regarding students' strengths, weaknesses and instructional next steps.
for me, now, the issues of poor student compositions as well as ghost
writers, plagiarism, etc., is now a non-issue.
what it took was a change in my identity and introducing different teacher
my two-bits worth.
Phillip White, PhD
University of Colorado Denver
School of Education
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