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Re: [xmca] adult affordances


Maybe your recognition that everyone is connected to everything else - the magician's handkerchief - is part of the solution, not part of the problem. Here is more from Bonfil Batalla's writing on the characteristics of Mesoamerican culture:

	"There is a unity of human beings and the natural world, which is the reference point for human knowledge and abilities as well as for work, the specific way of obtaining sustenance. This unity is also present in human plans, in the capacity for imagining as well as observing nature, in the willingness to have dialogue with it, in human fears and hopes faced with forces beyond human control. 
	"Of course, this occurs in all cultures, but in Western culture there is an effort to separate and specialize in distinct aspects of a unitary reality. The poet eulogizes the moon, but the astronomer studies it. The painter re-creates the forms and colors of the countryside while the agronomist understands soils. The mystic prays… There is no way, in Western logic, of unifying all these things in a common understanding, as does the Indian.
	“It is difficult to comprehend many characteristics of Mesoamerican civilization if one does not take into account one of its most profound dimensions: the conception of the natural world and the human being’s place in the cosmos. In this civilization, unlike that of the West, the natural world is not seen as an enemy. Neither is it assumed that greater human self-realization is achieved through greater separation from nature. To the contrary, a person’s condition as part of the cosmic order is recognized and the aspiration is toward permanent integration, which can be achieved only through a harmonious relationship with the rest of the natural world. By obeying the principles of the universal order, human beings fulfill themselves and meet their transcendent destiny. Thus we can see that work, the effort applied to obtain from nature that which humans need, has a different meaning from its meaning in Western civilization. It is not a punishment, but a method of harmonious adjustment to the cosmic order. A positive relationship with nature should be achieved on all levels, not just the purely material one of physical labor. For that reason it is impossible to separate ritual from physical effort, empirical knowledge from the myth that provides its full meaning within the Mesoamerican cosmic vision” (26-27).

I suspect that the children who Elinor Ochs was studying have come to see work as a chore, to be avoided if possible, minimized when unavoidable. They have come to assume that people must pit themselves against one another if they are to succeed.


On Mar 15, 2012, at 11:24 PM, Greg Thompson wrote:

> Larry and others,
> As for your intentional awareness question, from a parent's perspective I
> can tell you that I am aware of these tropes and still have managed to
> raise a 10 year old who can split the finest hairs over whether or not he
> should be responsible for having locked his sister out of the car (while he
> was inside! long story...), not to mention the lengths that he and his
> sister go to when arguing over what the other one got and they didn't.
> I think that the fairness principles and "ownership" are things that we as
> parents "feel" is right in a very common sense way and tend to act on
> without thinking. And we must explain these behaviors to some extent as
> well so that our kids learn the operative "rules" (e.g., in the
> door-locking case: how to feign non-intentionality; and in the fairness
> case: everything the sibling gets, I get). And yes, this is tied in to
> making little Kings and Queens (or Princesses as in the locally culturally
> preferred form).
> It is one thing to be aware that these behaviors produce less than ideal
> results, but the really difficult question becomes: how else could I do it?
> Looking to other cultures can provide some answers, but it is like the
> kerchief up the magician's sleeve - when you start to pull it out you
> quickly begin to realize that there is more connected to it, and more
> still, and pretty soon it is hard to find where it begins and ends...
> -greg
> On Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 7:16 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Andrew and Martin
>> The turn this thread has taken is fascinating [and also troubling because
>> *owning* is so  pervasive]
>> Andrew, your comment,
>> children's contributions to household work in these communities are largely
>> bound to personal domains of responsibility and that those domains are
>> delimited by fairness
>> principles: children are responsible for things they "own" (their things,
>> spaces, messes).
>> The question of contributing to and taking responsibility for things that
>> are personally *owned* ties into the comments Greg contributed on Western
>> ethno-psychology that posits self-control and self-responsibility as the
>> ground rules for a *way of life* [and the language-games that sustain this
>> value of personal ownership.]
>> Are *ways of life* such as described above able to be transformed
>> intentionally?? It seems it will take more than merely *knowledge* or
>> *awareness*
>> Larry
>> On Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 6:14 PM, Andrew Coppens <acoppens@ucsc.edu> wrote:
>>> Hi Martin,
>>> Thanks for making this connection. Your question at the end is close to
>> my
>>> thinking on the issue. I would just add that for me the question isn't so
>>> much about preparation for the classroom, but the extent to which these
>>> children in Los Angeles are in a sense already participating in it. It
>>> sounds like you might agree with me in thinking that how children
>>> contribute is perhaps more consequential for learning/development than
>> how
>>> much (how much often being the salient feature in studies of children's
>>> work).
>>> Jacqueline Goodnow has some great work on this in middle-class Anglo
>>> Australian families. Like Ochs, she finds that children's contributions
>> to
>>> household work in these communities are largely bound to personal domains
>>> of responsibility and that those domains are delimited by fairness
>>> principles: children are responsible for things they "own" (their things,
>>> spaces, messes). One of my favorite examples of hers calls attention to
>>> what's communicated to children what parents say "Who got these things
>>> out?" - a veiled directive to clean up that chops up responsibility into
>>> chores that only certain family members own. Not only does the directive
>>> preclude children's initiative to some extent, but it communicates norms
>> of
>>> accountability and "rules of engagement." Coincidentally, there's a nice
>>> dovetail in this example with Ochs' earlier work on language
>> socialization.
>>> I think these in-home practices that reproduce domains of responsibility
>>> and accountability easily compare to many classroom settings. Myself and
>>> others are looking into cross-cultural variation in "fairness" and
>>> initiative in a study underway.
>>> ---
>>> Andrew D. Coppens
>>> www.andrewcoppens.com
>>> On Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 5:34 PM, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:
>>>> 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?
>>>> Martin
>>>> 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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> -- 
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Sanford I. Berman Post-Doctoral Scholar
> Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition
> Department of Communication
> University of California, San Diego
> http://ucsd.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
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