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[Xmca-l] Re: A Question about Reading and Motivation

The first thing I thought on reading "assistance is given to kids to
read in order to find out something they want to know about the world"
was "This is basic Freire".  Adult literacy had the same problem of
meaningless texts till Freire came along and started teaching them about
things that mattered to them. It also made me reflect on the idea of
motive, whihc has for a long time been a question I have been intending
to examine "when I have time".  When I met the activity triangle, one of
the most obvious issues about it was that it contains no separate place
for motive. After a while that seemed logical because the motive was in
the object, and maybe one of our difficulties is that we separate motive
out from object in order to understand it better, and then forget to put
it back in again.

Children are just like people, they do need a reason to do things. I've
always been puzzled by the idea of andragogy, the suggestion that adults
learn differently from children. Proponents usually list several reasons
which usually make no sense to me. One of the reasons usually given is
that adults need to know why they are doing something, the unspoken
contrast being presumably that children happily do what they're told.
The kind of research you refer to here, Andy, suggests that children do
need to know why they are doing something, but lack the power to say so.
Hence, I think, a lot of the problems evident in our UK schooling system
(lots of great schools, in my opinion, dreadful educational policies
dictate that children are machined through exams in order to maintain
the school's place in the league table. So there is a reason why the
children do what they do, it is just not relevant to the child.)


On 28/08/2013 08:27, Andy Blunden wrote:
Re: Peg Griffin -
and Peg and Mike et al: http://lchc.ucsd.edu/People/NEWTECHN.pdf

The first article sets up a scenario in 5thD where kids "sneak" a look
at piece of writing in order to find an answer to a current affairs
question. As opposed to telling the kids to read a text and then (for
example) testing them on it.
The second talks about "reading for meaning" where assistance is given
to kids to read in order to find out something they want to know about
the world. As opposed to decoding "Jack and Jill" stories containing
nothing of interest to them at all (and actually humiliating).

I am trying to get my head around the issue of the motivation which
the teachers are trying to engender in the child which facilitates
learning to read.

Following A N Leontyev, Peg talks about the "merely understood" motive
for the child "to be a productive, informed, literate citizen" which
is what the education system is supposed to be doing. Peg says this
motive was "in the social interactions and ready to replace the
'really effective' motives that got the kid to come to/put up with our
reading group." ... *in the social interactions*!

Generally speaking I think there is no doubt that the distinction
between "really effective" and "merely understood" motives is valid,
and that in general children who have difficulty in reading, read only
for "effective" but "external" motives which do not succeed in them
learning to read effectively. Further, the task of the teacher may be
or may be supposed to be to get the child to learn to read so as "to
be a productive, informed, literate citizen." This objective is
somewhere in the complex of motives underlying a teacher's motives,
certainly in 5thD, but I suspect often a "merely understood" motive
for many teachers, alongside earning a wage for their own family,
having a quiet day and the kids getting good test scores, etc.

But I question whether it is *ever* the child's motive "to be a
productive, informed, literate citizen." This may be an "internal
reward" for learning to read, but not for learning to read any
particular text or even a particular type of text.

Would this explanation make sense: Learning to read is like happiness.
It does not generally arise through being the motivation of the
activity which produces it. People learn to read as a byproduct of
struggling to get something they want out of particular texts. And
this applies to adults as much as children. I think people can only
learn to read philosophy if they are struggling to get something out
of a book on philosophy (other than pass the exam or acquire an air of
erudition). In Peg's email message we learn that the kids jumped on
the newspaper article to extract information they wanted in (what they
took to be) /another/ task. In the QAR story, adults mediate kids'
relation to a text which is in turn mediating their real and
meaningful relation to the world. (I think if a kid is strongly enough
motivated to pass a reading test, and assisted, they will usually
manage to learn to read, but it is for those for whom this doesn't
work that the issue arises, isn't it?)

But in general I think it is neither necessary nor likely that a child
has their eye on becoming a literate citizen when they struggle with a
text and learn to read in the process. Isn't it always more proximate
motives? The "internal" reward in reading a particular text is the
particular content of that text, not actually anything to do with
books, or texts, or reading or citizenship.

I know there are dozens of experts in literacy education out there, so
please help me.


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