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RE: [xmca] adult affordances

Hi Michael and others,
This is my first time replying from the digest, so apologies if I break the
thread. I've abridged most of the digest.

This is a fascinating analysis to me, and one that overlaps with some of
the work I'm doing to try to understand children's initiative in paying
attention and making contributions to on-going endeavors in
Indigenous-heritage communities of the Americas. Dewey (1916) has a nice
way of distinguishing between two forms of imitation that I think is
relevant to this thread:

"[The child/student] imitates the means because he wishes, on his own
behalf, as part of his own initiative, to take an effective part [in a
shared endeavor]…imitation of ends, as distinct from imitation of means
which help to reach ends, is a superficial and transitory affair which
leaves little effect upon disposition... It affects outward acts but not
the meaning of their performance.….Imitation of means of accomplishment is…
an intelligent act. It involves close observation, and judicious selection
of what will enable one to do better something which he already is trying
to do. (pp. 35-36)"

When students' attention/participation is placed under rule-based
constraint that serves adult-determined instructional purposes - a pattern
I find myself reproducing by default in much of my teaching - initiative in
engaging with possible ends and possible meanings might be nudged out as an
option for students. This initiative seems to powerfully drive
children's/student's learning precisely because it involves agentic and
intentional engagement in shared goals. By the time students are in our
university classes, they've likely been through years of schooling in which
they are more-or-less handed "ends"/motives/objects by teachers and
grade-driven instructional situations. It's perhaps not surprising then
that students don't do what their instructors would like right away when
given the freedom to make their own choices. Give me a day off of work, and
I might spend it sitting on the couch (or catching up on Facebook). Give me
a week off of work, and I just might find my way back to the parts of my
work that are meaningful to me for my own reasons.

On another note, there is a fair amount of research on cultural patterns of
*simultaneous* attention as contrasted with *alternating* attention. Rogoff
and colleagues have contributed some of this evidence. Many communities, in
which children are consistently integrated into on-going events as
meaningful contributors to shared family/community endeavors, seem to
support children's simultaneous attention to on-going events. The practices
associated with Western schooling in particular seem to encourage attention
alternation. Some food for thought on the idea that it's either Facebook or
the lecture; for some students it might be both at once.

Thanks for sparking some initiative on the part of another lurker.

Andrew D. Coppens

> Message: 13
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2012 07:36:29 -0400
> From: "Michael Glassman" <MGlassman@ehe.osu.edu>
> Subject: RE: [xmca] adult affordances
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> Message-ID:
>        <B33131190AB080468C8D5FA5DBCD4EFD789563@helios.hec.ohio-state.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> So here's the punchline,
> When I first started doing this it was a disaster and I got really angry
> at the graduate student who suggested it.   I was constantly losing the
> students and was feeling frustrated, feeling I was competing with all these
> devices.  But I also met pretty regularly with that graduate student and
> another discussing a number of issues about the Internet, which I have
> become really interested in, but was born too late to really have the
> perspective of a "digital native."   It would be funny sitting
> Message: 14
> Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2012 07:47:09 -0400
> From: "Michael Glassman" <MGlassman@ehe.osu.edu>
> Subject: RE: [xmca] adult affordances
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> Message-ID:
>        <B33131190AB080468C8D5FA5DBCD4EFD789564@helios.hec.ohio-state.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> Sorry, don't know how this got sent early,
> Anyway, it would be funny sitting with the two students who would both
> have their computer and smartphone and ipad all laid out in front of them
> and during our discussion things would be rinings and buzzing.   Slowly I
> started to understand both through discussion and experience the rhythms of
> their experience, which I hypothesize has changed in this new technology,
> and we discussed how to incorporate that into the classroom teaching.
> Things starting getting a lot better, or at least I became less frustrated.
>   We have entrance and exit blog posts for the class - the blog being a
> central tool in the class.  The last two classes the students have almost
> universally described how at first they would just go to their Facebook
> page, but as the class went on - usually sometime around the third week for
> many students, they would start to turn their attention back to what was
> happening in class - and they went much deeper into what was being said,
> because it was their attention, t
>  heir choice, their interest.  They might start googling what was being
> talked about, finding their own information, their own sources, which they
> would post on the blog.   Then they got a real kick from teaching and
> learning from each other.   I probably never got 100 percent or even 75 of
> their attention, but I doubt I had it anyway.  But to quote Spencer Tracy,
> "What I got was choice."
> Michael

Message: 8
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2012 22:33:33 -0400
From: "Michael Glassman" <MGlassman@ehe.osu.edu>
Subject: RE: [xmca] adult affordances
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

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 th
 inking, "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 w
 hat 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.


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