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Re: [xmca] adult affordances

Thank you Noel. If you are a poetry teacher, you have one great student!

Noel Enyedy wrote:
Hi I have been following this conversation with fascination, thinking about my own practice as well as how to address this better in my courses on learning and technology.  Oddly enough, the undergraduates I had in my course were keenly aware of what they are doing during class (and beyond) and have very mixed feelings about technology in general--they always surprise me.

I thought I would insert at least one student's perspective--he made this as a homework assignment for my course.




On Mar 16, 2012, at 5:28 PM, Martin Packer wrote:

Hi Greg,

I think you're politely saying that I hijacked my own thread! Well, it won't be for the first time.

But I think the linkages were from cell phones in the classroom to adult-imposed instructional practices, to indigenous versus Western conceptions of work, and the relationship (or lack of) between work and learning. And my point to you was that once you've started to recognize the interconnections between culture, worldview, ideology, at least you're stepping away from the notion that work is just one unpleasant area of life, to be avoided as much as possible. It's hard to hold onto a holistic worldview in a form of life that keeps dividing the world up. But that was what Marx was able to do: describe how the dividing up is consequence of a particular way of organizing the whole. Marx as shaman, perhaps.
And isn't flipping the classroom an example of working within the system but transforming it? I have plans to try something like what Hake has done, once I have the readings collected, after reading this:

Deslauriers, L., Schelew, E., & Wieman, C. (2011). Improved Learning in a Large-Enrollment Physics Class. Science, 332(6031), 862. [copy available on request]


On Mar 16, 2012, at 5:21 PM, Greg Thompson wrote:

Larry and Martin,
appreciate the thoughtful responses.

Larry, regarding the class size perception discrepancy between Japan and
U.S., to this point, wouldn't larger class size in U.S. also mean that each
student "owns" less? The ideal here being the classroom of ONE and in which
the child owns it all! (a future investment banker?).

And Martin, the connectedness was more a matter of the interrelations of
culture and world-view to any individual ideology such that there are many
different interrelations that hold a given ideology in place. It is never
so simple as "choosing" to reject a given ideology (e.g. of "ownership"),
because this causes all kinds of other disturbances (whether social or
psychological). This seems to me the (forgotten?) lesson of structuralism.
And eventually one is faced with the reality that if one really wants to
change an ideology, one must exit the system altogether (hence the utopian
communes, which also have never worked precisely because of the
intractability of the self-other mapping - a thread for another time). But
that's not very practical for most of us who are entangled with others in
said system.

This is where the magician/shaman comes in. The magician works within the
system but also potentially creates and transforms things.

But I fear we are slipping too far afield and I'd like to return to the
place of the lecture.

I'm going to paste below a shortened version of a recent listserve posting
(on a different listserve) by Richard Hake. Anyway, it is about the much
talked about Kahn Academy and "flipping the classroom" -  a pedagogical
practice in which you have students read and/or watch lectures outside of
class and then you work through problems with them (in groups) in class
using clickers (anyone used these?) and new media. The links connect to
some very interesting articles that are very informative about ideologies
of teaching/learning in college today. (see below)

But is this "flipping" just a re-do of "the study group" with the minor
addition that "flipping" pulls the professor into their students' process
of learning? (and as an aside: do study groups still spontaneously form or
are they considered taboo by students who have been forced to imagine
learning as something that they must do in isolation from anyone else?)
And although this kind of communication between where students "are at"
with the material and where the prof "is at" is an important part of the
process of teaching/learning (a bridge towards "intersubjectivity" on the
subject?), I think that good lecturers always already did this, they just
had other ways of knowing where their students were "at" (okay, not always;
classes flop, but good lecturers learn from these flops).

And back to the original intent of this thread, I appreciate the
distraction. ;=)


ABSTRACT: POD's James Morrison wrote (paraphrasing): "Last night Sixty
Minutes featured the 'Kahn Academy: The Future of Education' - a great
depiction of an innovative disruption, now applied to the sciences, but
with a prospect of expanding to other disciplines, K-16."

Alan Bender then pointed to an initiative "Multi-institutional Cognitive
Coursewares Design" at <http://bit.ly/wIUPGh> by the "Association of Public
and Land-Grant Universities" to "develop sophisticated online tutorials for
various introductory college courses rather than to wait for textbook
publishers and other companies to do so (and to end up controlling the
whole process)."

But Kahn Academy creator Salman Kahn is only indirectly responsible for:

(a) the highly publicized "flipped classroom," see the "Chronicle of Higher
Education's "How 'Flipping' the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional
Lecture" at (for subscribers) <http://bit.ly/xKYX8h>, and the sequel
"Lecture Fail? Students and Professors Sound Off on the State of the
College Lecture" *currently* freely available) at <http://bit.ly/yKy70D>.

(b) the consequent race to develop tutorials for introductory college

In an interview <http://bit.ly/yAfKac> in "Education Week" Kahn says: "Very
little of this [flipping of the classroom] did I think of myself. . . . .
the flipped classroom is not what we view as the ideal or the endpoint. We
view it almost as a transition state. . . . instead of holding fixed the
time and date when you learn something and the variable is how well you
learn it, we're saying let's hold fixed how well you learn it, and you
learn it at a deep level, and what's variable is how long you have to learn
it, and when you learn it, and when you revisit the material."

On Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 9:31 AM, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:


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
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
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
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
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...


On Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 7:16 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
Andrew and Martin
The turn this thread has taken is fascinating [and also troubling
*owning* is so  pervasive]
Andrew, your comment,

children's contributions to household work in these communities are
bound to personal domains of responsibility and that those domains are
delimited by fairness
principles: children are responsible for things they "own" (their
spaces, messes).

The question of contributing to and taking responsibility for things
are personally *owned* ties into the comments Greg contributed on
ethno-psychology that posits self-control and self-responsibility as the
ground rules for a *way of life* [and the language-games that sustain
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


On Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 6:14 PM, Andrew Coppens <acoppens@ucsc.edu>
Hi Martin,
Thanks for making this connection. Your question at the end is close to
thinking on the issue. I would just add that for me the question isn't
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
much (how much often being the salient feature in studies of children's

Jacqueline Goodnow has some great work on this in middle-class Anglo
Australian families. Like Ochs, she finds that children's contributions
household work in these communities are largely bound to personal
of responsibility and that those domains are delimited by fairness
principles: children are responsible for things they "own" (their
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
chores that only certain family members own. Not only does the
preclude children's initiative to some extent, but it communicates
accountability and "rules of engagement." Coincidentally, there's a
dovetail in this example with Ochs' earlier work on language
I think these in-home practices that reproduce domains of
and accountability easily compare to many classroom settings. Myself
others are looking into cross-cultural variation in "fairness" and
initiative in a study underway.

Andrew D. Coppens

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
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
to their elders, waiting patiently in front of them before they eat,
shown in one video snippet. Another video clip shows a girl around 5
of age in Peru's Amazon region climbing a tall tree to harvest papaya,
helping haul logs thicker than her leg to stoke a fire.

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

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

Would you imagine that these kids are, ironically, being well prepared
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
thread. I've abridged most of the digest.

This is a fascinating analysis to me, and one that overlaps with some
the work I'm doing to try to understand children's initiative in
attention and making contributions to on-going endeavors in
Indigenous-heritage communities of the Americas. Dewey (1916) has a
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
shared endeavor]…imitation of ends, as distinct from imitation of
which help to reach ends, is a superficial and transitory affair
leaves little effect upon disposition... It affects outward acts but
the meaning of their performance.….Imitation of means of
an intelligent act. It involves close observation, and judicious
of what will enable one to do better something which he already is
to do. (pp. 35-36)"

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

On another note, there is a fair amount of research on cultural
*simultaneous* attention as contrasted with *alternating* attention.
and colleagues have contributed some of this evidence. Many
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
associated with Western schooling in particular seem to encourage
alternation. Some food for thought on the idea that it's either
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>
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
at the graduate student who suggested it.   I was constantly losing
students and was feeling frustrated, feeling I was competing with
devices.  But I also met pretty regularly with that graduate student
another discussing a number of issues about the Internet, which I
become really interested in, but was born too late to really have
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>
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
have their computer and smartphone and ipad all laid out in front of
and during our discussion things would be rinings and buzzing.
started to understand both through discussion and experience the
rhythms of
their experience, which I hypothesize has changed in this new
and we discussed how to incorporate that into the classroom
Things starting getting a lot better, or at least I became less
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
universally described how at first they would just go to their
page, but as the class went on - usually sometime around the third
many students, they would start to turn their attention back to what
happening in class - and they went much deeper into what was being
because it was their attention, t
heir choice, their interest.  They might start googling what was
talked about, finding their own information, their own sources,
would post on the blog.   Then they got a real kick from teaching
learning from each other.   I probably never got 100 percent or even
their attention, but I doubt I had it anyway.  But to quote Spencer
"What I got was choice."



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

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
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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
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*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1608461459/

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