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Re: [xmca] Scribner on creativity

On 29 May 2012 20:59, Peter Smagorinsky <smago@uga.edu> wrote:

> I'm working my way through Mind and Social Practice: Selected Writings of
> Sylvia Scribner. SS died just as I was beginning to shift from information
> processing to cultural psychology (my shorthand for the various Vygotskian
> psychological approaches) and so it's interesting to go back in time and
> see what role she played in helping to produce this shift (apparently, it
> was considerable, although oldtimers and CUNY people might be able to fill
> this story out better than I could).
Nice anecdote, Peter.  I'm involved in a similar backward glance, going
over some of Gerald (Jerry) Weinberg's writings.  He has blazed quite a

> Anyhow, Chapter 25, "Thinking in action: Some characteristics of practical
> thought" looks at her workplace study of a milk producing plant to see how
> practical thinking functions. One thing that she documents is the flexible
> thinking that takes place within highly routinized, specified practices in
> the production process. Mostly creativity is considered to be the province
> of artists or other people working with a blank canvas, but Scribner finds
> creative thinking at work in the workplace within goal-oriented contours
> and according to established routines. I think that her closing paragraph
> (pp. 334-5) might help inform the discussion we're having on creativity:
> Unlike formal problem solving, practical problem solving cannot be
> understood solely in terms of problem structures and mental
> representations. Practical problem solving is an open system that includes
> components lying outside the formal problem--objects and information in the
> environment and goals and interests of the problem solver. Expertise in
> practical thinking involves the accomplishment of a fitting relationship
> among these elements, an accomplishment aptly characterized as functionally
> adaptive. Beneath the surface of adaptation, however, lie continuing acts
> of creativity-the invention of new ways of handling old and new problems.
> Since creativity is a term ordinarily reserved for exceptional individuals
> and extraordinary accomplishments, recognizing it in the practical
> problem-solving activities of ordinary people introduces a new perspective
> from which to grasp the challenge of the ordinary.
> I'm thinking about this observation in terms of my research on people
> learning how to teach the discipline of English (writing, reading,
> language) within the limits of the current accountability movement. SS's
> perspective helps me steer away from fatalistic interpretations of such
> socially-contoured practice (i.e., that the accountability mandates in
> current US schooling remove agency from teachers) and recognize the
> creative adaptions that teachers make within highly specified environments.
> Good stuff.
> Peter Smagorinsky<http://www.coe.uga.edu/~smago/vita/vitaweb.htm>
> Distinguished Research Professor<
> http://www.ovpr.uga.edu/docs/policies/iga/DRP-Guidelines.pdf> of<
> http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/of> English Education<
> http://www.coe.uga.edu/lle/english/secondary/index.html>
> Department of Language and Literacy Education<
> http://www.coe.uga.edu/lle/english/secondary/index.html>
> The University of Georgia<http://www.uga.edu/>
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