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

So what this leads to is that my earlier formulation of motivations for reading which can create the conditions for someone to "learn to read" has to be generalised. And I guess that different "interests" or "pleasures" to be had from reading can be used to make an effective motive for reading. But I am trying to put my finger on the differene between offering a "reward" for reading and the object which turns out to be attainable essentially only through reading, be that the satisfaction of solving an integral equation, or the joy of entering Jane Austen's world or simply being able to read what everyone is talking about. Does this mean that the teacher's task is to somehow allow the learner, with assistance, to get a taste of that object, whichever it is that turns on this reader?

*Andy Blunden*

mike cole wrote:
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 happen.

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 <mailto: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 Blunden*
    http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>

    MICHAEL W SMITH wrote:

        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>
        <mailto: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
            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
            to examine "when I have time".  When I met the activity
            one of
            the most obvious issues about it was that it contains no
            for motive. After a while that seemed logical because the
            was in
            the object, and maybe one of our difficulties is that we
            out from object in order to understand it better, and then
            to put
            it back in again.

            Children are just like people, they do need a reason to do
            always been puzzled by the idea of andragogy, the
        suggestion that
            learn differently from children. Proponents usually list
            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
            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
            (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


            On 28/08/2013 08:27, Andy Blunden wrote:

                Re: Peg Griffin -
                and Peg and Mike et al:

                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
                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
                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
                nothing of interest to them at all (and actually

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

                Following A N Leontyev, Peg talks about the "merely
                understood" motive
                for the child "to be a productive, informed, literate
                is what the education system is supposed to be doing.
        Peg says
                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
                between "really effective" and "merely understood"
        motives is
                and that in general children who have difficulty in
                read only
                for "effective" but "external" motives which do not
        succeed in
                learning to read effectively. Further, the task of the
                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
                certainly in 5thD, but I suspect often a "merely
                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
                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
                learn to read philosophy if they are struggling to get
                something out
                of a book on philosophy (other than pass the exam or
                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
                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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