[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Re: [xmca] Showing, Speaking, Knowing
First of all, let me say that I like everything about this post--from the extremely evocative (and DYNAMIC) subject line to the "rise to the concrete" data from fourth graders with which it ends. Above all, I like the anti-Tweetie, anti-soundbite LENGTH of it.
I even like what I don't quite like about "Showing, Speaking, Knowing"--what I see as a too easy segue from showing to speaking, from percepts to concepts. I think this is partly inherent in fourth grade data (because it is mostly preconceptual or "complexive" in nature) but it can be over-generalized.
Let me, too, rise the concrete here. My grads have to solve the following problem. A teacher presents a class with two apples, and cuts one of them in half. She takes away one half of the apple. She asks how many apples there are. The children, who can use fractions and mixed numbers in their own language, cannot use them in English, so...
How does the teacher use this situation to teach a) the everyday concept of "half" b) the more academic concept of "one divided by two", and c) the idea that the mixed number "one and a half" which consists of two numerical expressions put together and the fraction "three halves" which consists of one numerical expression are the same number, and that in fact any given number has an infinity of names?
It turns out that my grads are VERY used to teaching number ideas through COUNTING, and most of them think that the problem is somehow made easier if we substitute, say, circles or squares or triangles for the apples.
I think this is entirely a distraction--I think the key to the problem is not substituting a picture for an actual object at all; the problem is completely free verbalized perception from actual, optical perception.
What we need to teach about are not entities but PROCESSES, such as "divide", "multiply", "add" and above all "equals". Even counting has to be redefined as a process; it's a process of adding rather than a list of names.
Does perception play a role here? Yes, of course it does; we cannot start a process without it. Is it the leading role? Of course not--as soon as we say that it is a starting role, we have admitted that it cannot be a leading role.
The great "salto vitale" that Vygotsky made in his late period was to go from a dialectical materialist view of psychology that was mostly materialist (based on ACTIVITY, on ACTION, on PERCEPTION and COGNITION) to a dialectical materialist view of psychology that was mostly dialectical (based on SEMIOTICS, on VERBAL THINKING, on CONCEPTS and above all on INTERACTION).
We can exaggerate the differences (e.g. between "Tool and Sign" on the one hand and "Thinking and Speech" on the other), and of course the latter would not really be conceivable without the former. Nevertheless, it is the case that only the latter really requires two to come before one, and only this principle explains how discourse precedes grammar, and grammar owes its origins to discourse.
Finally, I think that one reason that good posts tend to be long posts is related to what Mescheryakov calls "Vygotsky's second genetic law", the law which states that the interpersonal precedes the intra-personal, and that therefore complex discourse and complex dialogue comes, ontogenetically and even microgenetically, before complex grammar and dense vocabulary.
Of course, the sensuous aspects of face-to-face interaction (facial expression, intonation, stress, and access to "showing" alongside speaking) is an explanation of HOW complex discourse can be understood before complex grammar is fully analyzed. The problem is that it doesn't explain WHY children go beyond a purely functional analysis of discourse to a completely grammaticized one in which perception must play a much reduced role.
I think that to explain that you need to see that the links between so-called "supra-segmental" features (intonation, stress, pitch, intensity, duration) and segmental ones (indicative/declarative structures, theme vs. rheme, reported speech, vowel quality) are not external links (not a link between "suprasegmental" or "paralinguistic" add-ons and the segmental, linguistic essence) but rather internal links, links that point to a genetic origin for the latter in the former rather than vice versa.
Unlike perception, VERBALIZED perception starts with knowing (that others have minds), progresses through speaking, and only ends with showing. But I don't need to tell you that--it's in your example!
Seoul National University of Education
--- On Tue, 6/28/11, Larry Purss <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [xmca] Showing, Speaking, Knowing
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 6:31 AM
Martin and David Ke on another thread are exploring the relation of the
perceptual and language. David is suggesting a transformation historically
in Vygotsky's understanding of of the relation of gestalten [meaningful
gestalts] to language and thought.
On this topic Gregory wrote
As for Foucault, my reading of F is influenced by French speakers that I
have spoken to who say that when read in French, F. seem much more of a
humanist (and there must be a reason why he always has such a fantastically
large grin on his face! If he's a nihilist, he hardly seems like a
practicing one. Althusser, on the other hand...). It isn't clear to me how
much these Francophones were mining and/or what the context was that
provided for this reading, but they seemed very convincing. And when I was
teaching Foucault to an undergrad class after this, I was able to begin to
see this in his writing.
Anyway, I'm very grateful for this opportunity to engage with others with
similar interests - and many thanks for reading through my blah-blah-blah
(and then some).
I know little of Foucault but do know that his writings were in RESPONSE to
Merleau-Ponty's theory of the perceptual as ontological.
Foucault emphasizes how the interplay of discourse is primary.
Martin's and David's opening conversations on the relation of the perceptual
and language [both acknowledge the sociohistorical situatedess of existence]
as a central topic to explore and Gregory's reflection's on French thinking
seem to be on the same topic.
I will just add that Merleau-Ponty rejects the notion of 5 discrete senses,
each modularly contributing its own specific inputs to build up a gestalt
construction FROM the 5 discrete senses. For M-P the living body
simultaneously FORMS perspectives from the intersensual coordination of the
body as flesh. Describing the 5 distinct senses for M-P is a derivative 2nd
order understanding of a previously formed body perspective. The eyes,
ears, skin, as BODY experience the world simultaneously. M-P says if we use
only one sense to grasp the world it is experienced as a phantom. [if we
hear the wind but do not feel it or see the leaves blowing we question if
its imaginal rather than actual. The actual is INTERsensory bodily grasped.
The relation of "mind as body" going out and grasping the world
perceptually, and this movement's relation to language and how these
processes transform perspectives in figure/ground forms of recognition I
hope will be explored further by Martin, David, and others.
Gregory, I appreciate your reflections on recognition as ontological [and
not merely a subjective search for identity] The search for recognition has
a particular intensity in our current historical moment in time. The danger
is that this search can accentuate and deepen the crisis we are trying to
transform, if it is seen as an individual search for SELF-expression
[Charles Taylor's insight] I am also interested in the day to day, moment
by moment, transformation in perspectves and forms of recognition [as
I want to give a simple example from my work that captures the possibilities
of this way of reflecting:
Three girls in grade 4 come in with a conflict from the lunch hour. The
discussion is very intensely going back and forth in a heated "She did
this, No, you said that", accusatory argument.
I ask the girls if they were "friends" before this "problem"
They answer, "Yes"
I then reframe that we are dealing with "friends" who have a difficulty.
Next, I ask them to DESCRIBE what they did as friends BEFORE the difficulty.
They start to describe how they like playing tag.
I then ask them to describe in detail the type of tag which they do. [deepen
[the next move on my part is significant]
I now ask the girls if they can SHOW ME [Merleau-Ponty] how they play tag
when they don't have the problem.
This move to "showing" [we actually go out onto the playground and they
actually play tag] is often transformative at a BODILY level. They start
to giggle, have fun [which I recognize is a result of my containing or
"holding" the intersubjective third space open for possibilities].
Now we go back into the school and talk about the "problem". However the
setting for discusion has been transformed and the girls are OPEN and freely
NEGOTIATING their differences and each is recognizing the needs of the
The transformative shift I believe was the SHOWING, not the telling. I as
the adult contained or "held" the intensity of emotion until it could be
transformed. Over time and guidance in these zones of proximal development,
the girls learn to take each others perspectives and develop DERIVATIVE
reasons and tellings ABOUT these situations.
Now, there are multiple ways to EXPLAIN why my intervention was "successful"
[from my ethical perspective] and I believe developmental. The particular
version of "reasons why" are derivative and inherently multiple. No reason
can fully contain or reflect the lived experience. However, with
Merleau-Ponty, I suspect the SHOWING [what I have discussed as MARKING] may
be a central factor.
A last passing thought. Merleau-Ponty discusses the relation between the
personal and the biological [sedimintation] as a process of
transformation.. Learning to ride a bike becomes incorporated into and
changes the biological sedimentation of the body. This sedimentation is the
formation of habits or ways of being in the world, expressed through the
body as the body grasps the world.
My example of recognition with the 3 girls is also, if repeated many times,
slowly sedimented in the body as habits of the body [and metaphorically as
habits of the heart]
xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list