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RE: [xmca] adult affordances

Hi Larry, Martin, Adam,
Thanks for the great post Adam.  A couple of years ago under the tutelate of a graduate student I had all students in my class bring the laptop and keep it open.  I told them they don't have to be listening to everything I say, they could be on Facebook or they can text or twitter.   They didn't have to hide it from me.   My students were shocked.   No, no, this can't be happening.  Every other class is a battle against this new technology.  I told them a story about when I was in college lo these many years ago.   I took a class in Russian literature with someone who was considered one of the great professors on the subject in the country - not just as a scholar but as a teacher.  And he was amazing, and passionate, and caring, and one of the two or three best professors I ever had.  I would go to class and dutifully open up my notebook and focus my attention on the professor.   My eyes never wavered but my mind certainly did.   A little while into the class I would start thinking, "Hmmm, what's for lunch" and then, "I wonder what I should do tonight".  Oh I would get pulled back to the class again and again, I remember him waving his arm and shouting,   "And think of the scene of Napoleon riding into Moscow and his men cheering and the subtle irony in the scene and what lies ahead."  I saw in my mind the soldiers gathering around their beloved emperor, but among them was this woman Lori who I wondered if I should ask to eat with me at the dining hall that night.   That is the way our mind works, jumping from point to point, and there is a method to the madness of our minds, the jumps are meaningful and perhaps keep us in the game.   The idea that anybody is paying attention to anybody one hundred percent of the time is pretense and the idea that even the most vibrant speaker has control over another's thoughts is an illusion that gives the speaker warmth.   The Facebook, the texting, the cell phones, all of it, just outward manifestations of what our minds have been doing all along anyway.  Come one, be honest, how many reading this were thinking for a little while about their next snack or perhaps checking Netflix.  Technology has finally caught up to our minds.


From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Larry Purss
Sent: Wed 3/14/2012 10:09 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] adult affordances


Reading your post, I was thinking about Harre's explaining  Wittgenstein's
notion of rule following and language games.
Harre gives the example, When I say *6 times 6* persons participating in
our *way of life* will respond [immediately? automatically? intentionally?
with self-control?]  with the answer *36*
If cell phones as a form of technology are now part of a *way of life* for
many students [part of our grammar] who is in control?

On Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 6:31 PM, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:

> An odd conjunction of issues of content and management  in my
> undergraduate developmental psychology course has me puzzled, and so I'm
> appealing for xmca help!  A few weeks ago I was expounding on the notion
> that the toddler lives in a world not of permanent objects but of
> affordances - irresistible offers to action, made by the things and people
> and places that surround him or her. Gibson, filtered through Vygotsky.
> At the same time, I was waging an unceasing war against the use of cell
> phones in the classroom. (Today I actually got to the point of confiscating
> them when I saw them, and telling the students they could buy them back
> from me later in the city center. With humor, I hope!)
> Finally, it struck me. These young adults, too, are victims of
> irresistible offers to action, made by their little iPhones or Nokias or
> whatever.
> So what is it about a cell phone that completely overwhelms any and every
> facet of self control? Why is it that I can forbid cell use at the start of
> each class, yet in seconds they start to appear? What is it that transforms
> a young adult into no more than a toddler?
> Martin
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