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[xmca] Mike Rose responses
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- Subject: [xmca] Mike Rose responses
- From: mike cole <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Mon, 13 Feb 2012 09:20:33 -0800
- Cc: Mike Rose <email@example.com>
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Mike Rose is not a member of xmca, so I have changed the header and
on the cc line, so if for purposes of this discussion, people would stick
to using REPLY ALL, mike will automatically be included.(Mike, you are of
course free to join for whatever period its useful).
So, Mike's note:
Hi Mike (and Andy), Thanks for sending this comment by David Kellogg along.
I don't have a way to get onto the MCA site, so could you post this for me,
I want to thank David Kellogg for his comments and also Robert Lake for his
response. Their exchange is a rich one, and since, as David correctly
notes, I am definitely NOT a welder, I cannot comment on some of the
specifics. I do want to say a few things, though, by way of clarification.
The characterization of overhead welding as "something else" is not mine
but that of a young man who had never welded before and who is only about
three or four months into learning the trade. For him at his stage of
development, overhead welding is "something else." After a point, he will
become proficient at it and incorporate it into his repertoire of skills.
As for David's point that "you can't take the skill from one domain to
another"...e.g., from welding to writing, I couldn't agree more, and hope
to God I didn't imply such wide transfer. I certainly didn't state it. But
I absolutely did witness more going on than just learning ways to hold
tools and execute delicate physical moves. These students, as they
progressed, learned things about the properties of metals, about
electricity, about arithmetic calculations. The also had to become good at
problem solving and trouble shooting and figuring out how to execute their
physical skills in difficult circumstances. And some of this learning can
be carried over to other pursuits. Perhaps the key variable here is that
David learned his skills on the job--a perfectly legitimate and powerful
way to learn--and the young welders I write about are learning their trade
in a particularly good program where the instructors are continually
calling their attention to the cognitive content of their work. Also, for a
fair percentage of students, getting good at welding whetted their
appetites for more education in other areas.
Finally, I just want to raise a cautionary word about the
skilled/semi-skilled distinction that David raises. When you read the
history of the development of different kinds of work, one thing that jumps
out is the fact that definitions and distinctions about skill are subject
to all sorts of political and cultural forces. Welding, at least in the US,
provides a good example. In the early twentieth century, rival trades
unions exerted a good deal of political pressure to keep welding defined as
a "semi-skill" to protect their own advantage. This battle went all the way
up to the federal Department of Labor, where the Secretary, for political
reasons, agreed to the semi-skilled definition. I'm not calling for a naive
cognitive egalitarianism here; different kinds of work demand different
kind of cognitive activity. If I need a surgeon, I'm not going to consult a
carpenter. But the easy distinction between "skilled" and "semi-skilled"
should be used with some caution.
Thanks again to David and Robert for weighing in.
----- Original Message -----
From: "mike cole" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Mike Rose" <email@example.com>
Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2012 9:27:02 PM
Subject: Fwd: [xmca] MCA Featured Article by Mike Rose
A comment from a curmudgeon, but a comment fyi
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Kellogg < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Date: Sun, Feb 12, 2012 at 8:38 PM
Subject: Re: [xmca] MCA Featured Article by Mike Rose
To: Culture ActivityeXtended Mind < email@example.com >
Welding was something I learned through legitimate peripheral participation
at the pineapple cannery where I worked when I was sixteen. It didn't
require any mathematics, but it did, as Rose says, require a very sensitive
"feel" for how hot the metal is, how long your arc is, and how fast you can
travel with it.
I don't really agree that overhead welding is "something else again". In
overhead welding, you have to move the "stinger" (the electrode) quickly
enough so that your puddle of liquid metal remains small and cold and
doesn't drip in your face (well, on your face mask). One of the parameters
of welding (puddle size) is more important than the others, but it ithe
same (semi-)skill with the same parameters.
And that's the problem I think is worth talking about. Once you learn flat
welding and vertical welding, you can "graduate" to overhead, because it's
not "something else"; it's manifestly the same skill. And there is a lot
you can do with this skill. I worked in a cannery, on a locomotive assembly
line, and eventually in a specialized shop which made racing car engines in
But (it seems to me) you can't graduate to mathematics, and you can't take
the skill from one domain to another: my welding put me into college. But
it didn't write the papers for me and I eventually dropped out and went
back to welding.
So it seems to me that PART of the problem this article raises has to do
with the subject matter itself: welding is really the kind of lower level
psychological function that Vygotsky talks about: typing, swimming, and
playing golf. It's the kind of work which necessarily and
always--regardless of the way we teach it--will keep workers in their
place, and it will do this no matter how we teach it.
Because it does NOT generalize to things like mathematics, it does not (as
far as I can see) lead workers any further than overhead welding. Because
it does NOT involve language it doesn't really change your word meanings or
your concepts (I learned welding through legitimate peripheral
participation from workers who spoke dozens of different languages that I
could not speak--but neither of us learned any actual word meanings from
each other). And because it does NOT involve formal discipline it cannot
really develop higher psychological functions.
Writing is different. Writing skills DO generalize to a vast domain of
knowledge, including reading and thinking. Writing skills DO involve
language and they are cumulative and recursive in a way that welding is
not. Above all, writing DOES involve formal discipline, and it is in itself
the external "line of developent" of cross cultural and even cross
I often wonder if legitimate peripheral participation is really a
legitimate way of communicating development, or if it is simply a method of
skill learning. In my own experience, it works really well for semi-skilled
labor like welding.
But I rather doubt it can take you further than that. Perhaps Mike Rose
senses that, and perhaps he even means it, but he doesn't express it.
Curiously, I think the reason is that although he is an excellent writer,
he is not a welder.
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies .
--- On Sat, 2/11/12, Robert Lake < firstname.lastname@example.org > wrote:
From: Robert Lake < email@example.com >
Subject: Re: [xmca] MCA Featured Article by Mike Rose
To: firstname.lastname@example.org , "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <
Date: Saturday, February 11, 2012, 5:21 AM
I am so glad you published this Andy.
The topic if crucial in any discussion about educating for social justice
in a culture that
relegates vocational education to the "loser track". My son is a member of
the IBEW and a lineman for Georgia Power Co.
and he sent this link to me to share with my colleagues in education.
On Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 11:49 PM, Andy Blunden < email@example.com > wrote:
> The issue of MCA 19(1) about to be published has a Featured Article by
> Mike Rose: "Rethinking Remedial Education and the Academic-Vocational
> Divide." If all goes as promised, Taylor & Francis should be offering it
> for free download as of today. But a PDF is attached just in case! The
> issue also contains commentaries on Mike Rose's article by Norton Grubb,
> Kris Gutierrez, Sara Goldrick-Rab.
> The article is a scathing criticism of the US public education system, but
> one which makes very specific suggestions for improvement based on a life
> time of experience. It is also written in popularly accessible language
> rather than the usual academic genre. Rather than the usual practice of
> putting to a vote the article for discussion on xmca, it seemed crazy not
> to simply nominate this one. So please see attachment.
> *Andy Blunden*
> Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/**toc/hmca20/18/1 <
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.**aspx?partid=227&pid=34857 <
> xmca mailing list
*Robert Lake Ed.D.
Social Foundations of Education
Dept. of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading
Georgia Southern University
P. O. Box 8144
Phone: (912) 478-5125
Fax: (912) 478-5382
Statesboro, GA 30460
*Democracy must be born anew in every generation, and education is its
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Mike Rose, Professor
Social Research Methodology Division
Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
2011 Moore Hall, Box 951521
Los Angeles, California 90095-1521
I have a new book out: Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us
Visit my website and blog: www.mikerosebooks.com
This week's blog entry: "Rags to Riches, Republican Style"
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