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

Yes, all 3 modes of collaboration, Larry. I think this is a gap in Activity Theory. I don't think "subjective" or personal motive becoming the "objective" or "merely understood" motive copes with the issue of motivation or the psychological import of joining a project. Literacy education is not my archetype though, so it was a bit of a struggle for me to get this. I have learnt that reading itself responds to at least 4 distinct types of motive, so these concepts of collaboration far from exhaust the problem.

*Andy Blunden*

Larry Purss wrote:
I have wondered if in a culture where hunting with bows and arrows is valued, the child grows ups motivated to be skilled with using a bow. Is the motivation *learning to read* the identification of wanting to be like the others who participate in your world. In our culture, [especially within schools], if reading is the way people participate in sharing narrative than this MODE of communication is valued. Is identification with doing what others are doing a motivation? Beginning reading activity is a form of collaboration. As you mentioned, collaboration may be master/slave, producer/consumer, or collaboration per se. However, the activity *learning to read* can be displayed in all three types of collaboration. The motivation is identification WITH ...??? in all 3 types of collaboration. Larry

On Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 8:19 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

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

    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

        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>
        <mailto: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
            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
            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/%7Eandy/> <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
                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
                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
                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
                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.
                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
                 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
                kinds of pleasure.

                On Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 4:43 AM, rjsp2

        <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
                    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
                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
                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
                        understood" motive
                        for the child "to be a productive, informed,
                        is what the education system is supposed to be
                Peg says
                        motive was "in the social interactions and
        ready to
                replace the
                        'really effective' motives that got the kid to
                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
                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,
                mediate kids'
                        relation to a text which is in turn mediating
                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
                text is the
                        particular content of that text, not actually
                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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