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Re: [xmca] adult affordances

Hi Andrew,

I just today came across a report of Elinor Och's recent work on initiative and responsibility in Southern California:

"Dr. Ochs, who began her career in far-off regions of the world studying the concept of "baby talk," noticed that American children seemed relatively helpless compared with those in other cultures she and colleagues had observed.

"In those cultures, young children were expected to contribute substantially to the community, says Dr. Ochs. Children in Samoa serve food to their elders, waiting patiently in front of them before they eat, as shown in one video snippet. Another video clip shows a girl around 5 years of age in Peru's Amazon region climbing a tall tree to harvest papaya, and helping haul logs thicker than her leg to stoke a fire.

"By contrast, the U.S. videos showed Los Angeles parents focusing more on the children, using simplified talk with them, doing most of the housework and intervening quickly when the kids had trouble completing a task.

"In 22 of 30 families, children frequently ignored or resisted appeals to help, according to a study published in the journal Ethos in 2009. In the remaining eight families, the children weren't asked to do much. In some cases, the children routinely asked the parents to do tasks, like getting them silverware. "How am I supposed to cut my food?" Dr. Ochs recalls one girl asking her parents."

Would you imagine that these kids are, ironically, being well prepared for the school classroom?


On Mar 15, 2012, at 7:18 PM, Andrew Coppens wrote:

> 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.
> Best,
> ---
> Andrew D. Coppens
> www.andrewcoppens.com
> ------------------------------
>> 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>
> Message-ID:
>       <B33131190AB080468C8D5FA5DBCD4EFD789562@helios.hec.ohio-state.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.
> Michael
>> End of xmca Digest, Vol 82, Issue 13
>> ************************************
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