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[Xmca-l] Re: A Question about Reading and Motivation
In thinking about the relationship between socialization and identity, I find it useful to distinguish between two distinct notions of socialization: spontaneous enculturation into a unitary cultural milieu, and deliberate acculturation into a subculture whose practices are distinctive among a range of other subcultures'.
The social psychology of personal space, or proxemics (Hall, 1966; Li, 2001), provides a clear example of the former. Proxemics is the tendency for members of a national culture to draw specific perimeters around their physical bodies for various social purposes. For example, natives of France tend to prefer closer physical proximity for conversation than do Americans (Remland, Jones, & Brinkman, 1991). What is interesting about proxemic practices (and enculturation, more generally) is that they are acquired without volition or conscious awareness through enmeshment in a cultural environment (Parsons, 1951). Indeed, as Omar (2010) explains, for cultural norms to be "normative" they have to be unconscious:
"Parsons defined 'internalization' as 'unconscious introjection' which meant that if an actor was socialized into a norm, then the actor was unconscious of how that norm determined her conduct. In essence, the Parsonian socialized actor cannot take norms as an object of reflexive consideration and strategization, for if that were the case then the norm would lose its status as 'normative' and would become just another instrumental resource for action."
The counterpart to spontaneous processes of enculturation into an enveloping culture, is an individual's deliberate adaptation to a subculture through emulation of its distinctive practices. For obvious reasons, acculturation is the more salient process, and historically was identified much earlier (Powell, 1883). Indeed, we might not be aware of proxemic practices at all, if not for crosscultural experience and scholarship. But by the same token, we probably should assume that enculturation is a ubiquitous aspect of cultural participation. Even in cases when one actively seeks membership in a subculture through acculturationist strategies, enculturation is the more basic processes; a culture is comprised of innumerable cultural practices of which only a limited number can be addressed through conscious strategies of acculturation.
For a practice like reading, it can be difficult to parse where enculturation leaves off and acculturation begins. Literacy, obviously, is an important subcultural marker of certain social classes. As such, practices of reading can be undertaken as a strategy of acculturation. Even within a household, a child may see literacy as a means of projecting oneself into the subculture of adulthood over one's current identity as a child (am I pushing the notion of subculture too far?). On the other hand, at a more fine-grained level of analysis, there may be a wide variety of culturally specific manners of reading that are not consciously recognized as subcultural markers, and hence absorbed spontaneously through enculturation.
Hall, E. T. (1966) The hidden dimension. New York: Doubleday.
Li, S. (2001). How close is too close?: A comparison of proxemic reactions of Singaporean Chinese to male intruders of four ethnicities. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 93, 124-126.
Omar (2010, January 16). Is your (institutional) theory "Parsonian"? A technical criterion. Orgtheory.net.
Parsons, T. (1951). The social system. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Powell, J. W. (1883). Human evolution: Annual address of the President, J. W. Powell, Delivered November 6, 1883. Transactions of the Anthropological Society of Washington, 2, 176-208.
Remland, M.S., Jones, T. S., & Brinkman, H. (1991). Proxemic and haptic behavior in three European countries. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 15(4), 215-232.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Larry Purss
Sent: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 11:41 PM
To: Andy Blunden; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: A Question about Reading and Motivation
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.
On Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 8:19 PM, Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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*
> 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
>> (The Dickens freak)
>> On Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 4:51 PM, Andy Blunden <email@example.com <mailto:
>> firstname.lastname@example.org>> 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
>> <mailto:email@example.com.**uk <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> 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.
>> -- 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