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

Yes, once one learns to read for meaning in Dewey's sense, and mine,
marvelous things may result.

The acquisition of reading, however, is not governed by phylogenetic
constraints in the same way that the acquisition of oral/sign language is.
It is a cultural-historically developed mode of mediated meaning making.
With few exceptions, it requires literate others to arrange for it to

Consequently, getting there through the meat grinder of modern schooling,
is a continuing
issue. As is the notion of the violence of literacy.

(The Dickens freak)

On Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 4:51 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Thank you Michael! It is always such a wonderful thing when someone
> reveals to you what was before your eyes but you didn't see! I had to put
> down a novel to read your message. I think I take "the world" to be
> inclusive of imaginative world evoked by a text, and suddenly, yes, I can
> see that youngsters generally read lots of fiction and if they enjoy it,
> that is a royal road to becoming a reader - even though, in a sense, the
> printed words disappear under their gaze as they evoke that imaginary
> world. I also think the social motivations are broadly covered by my
> initial very 'utilitarian' view of the object of reading. But what you
> describe as "the intellectual pleasure of figuring something out," which I
> guess is one of the things that used to motivate me at school with maths,
> and that is something else! Thank you. The world is always richer than what
> one at first thought, isn't it?
> Andy
> ------------------------------**------------------------------**
> ------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>> A colleague and I just completed a study of the nature and variety of
>> pleasure adolescents take from their out-of-school reading that draws on
>> Dewey’s delineation of four kinds of educative interest in /Interest and
>> Effort in Education.  /One kind of pleasure we identified is what we call
>> work pleasure in which readers use a text as a tool to accomplish some
>> other end. That’s the kind of pleasure that Andy seems to be talking about
>> when he writes about someone’s struggling to read a philosophical text to
>> get something out of it that could then be usefully employed in some other
>> context. But there are other kinds of pleasure.  As Dewey explains “There
>> are cases where action is direct and immediate. It puts itself forth with
>> no thought of anything beyond. It satisfies in and of itself. The end is
>> the present activity, and so there is no gap in the mind between means and
>> end. All play is of this immediate character.”  Readers experience the
>> pleasure of play when they read narratives to immerse themselves in a story
>> world.  What matters to them is the pleasure they get from living through
>> the experiences of characters in the here and now not what they can
>> accomplish as a consequence of their reading at some future time. Another
>> kind of pleasure is intellectual pleasure.  Dewey explains that “instead of
>> thinking things out and discovering them for the sake of the successful
>> achievement of an activity (work pleasure),” we may institute an activity
>> for the intellectual pleasure of figuring something out.  An example would
>> be reading to unravel the complexities of poem as an end in itself.
>>  Finally there are social pleasures in reading.  People read to affiliate
>> with others.  That seems to me to be a kind of pleasure people on this
>> listserv take.  Or people read to mark their place in the world.  They do a
>> kind of identity work by using their reading to assert their difference
>> from others.  One of the informants in our study avoided reading the books
>> that were most popular among her friends and instead read what she called
>> dark fiction. That reading was an important part of how she understood
>> herself.  As she said “I’m weird in the way that [I don't have] inhibitions
>> like most people. I can read dark fiction and not be disturbed by it.”  I’d
>> argue that teachers are most likely to foster motivation to read by
>> creating contexts in which students can experience all four kinds of
>> pleasure.
>> On Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 4:43 AM, rjsp2 <r.j.s.parsons@open.ac.uk <mailto:
>> r.j.s.parsons@open.ac.**uk <r.j.s.parsons@open.ac.uk>>> wrote:
>>     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.)
>>     Rob
>>     On 28/08/2013 08:27, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>         Re: Peg Griffin -
>>         http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Mail/**xmcamail.2011_05.dir/msg00530.**
>> html <http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Mail/xmcamail.2011_05.dir/msg00530.html>
>>         and Peg and Mike et al: http://lchc.ucsd.edu/People/**
>> NEWTECHN.pdf <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.
>>         Andy
>>     -- The Open University is incorporated by Royal Charter (RC
>>     000391), an exempt charity in England & Wales and a charity
>>     registered in Scotland (SC 038302).
>> --
>> Michael W. Smith
>> Professor and Chair
>> Department of Teaching and Learning
>> Temple University
>> College of Education
>> 351 Ritter Hall
>> 1301 Cecil B. Moore Avenue
>> Philadelphia, PA 19122