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


My belief is that an approach that is rather formulaic or behaviourist can
be used to teach reading. This approach is then derided as being not real
higher order reading or creative reading etc. (it's just barking at print)
because the approach is behaviourist and behaviourism is offensive from an
ideological mindset dating back to Chomsky's critique of Skinner (my own
personal earlier mindset) or that it leaves out motivation, which was
Andy's initial gambit in this thread.

Let's compare this with algebraic literacy. Galileo worked out laws of
motion before the invention of algebra. What took him pages of tortuous
descriptive writing can now be expressed in a single line with a few
symbols which can be taught to year 8s or even to primary students. This is
described in detail in Andy DiSessa's book *Changing Minds: Computers,
Learning and Literacy* as part of an interesting discussion of the very
idea of a new literacy.

If you are very highly motivated then you might be interested in doing laws
of motion the way Galileo did them. I've shown that page in DiSessa's book
to others and usually they can't read it, it's too tortuous.

Overall, DiSessa tells a great narrative about new literacies but you have
to be a sophisticated thinker to understand it.

The current students I work with - indigenous Australians from remote
locations - include teenagers many of who have an English reading level at
reception / year 1 / year 2 due to various social and background factors
that would take some time to elaborate.

>From my experience in teaching algebra (or fractions for that matter) it's
best to introduce it in a rather mechanical fashion and then  over time
elaborate on its deeper significance. I didn't always think this. I used to
think that I should always introduce new concepts in a meaningful way
because it was offensive to my epistemological mindset not to.  It was
going through the process of teaching in disadvantaged schools and doing
some one on one teaching to a home schooling family that took me, in part,
to a different mindset. Note that my journey was epistemologically
traumatic (in horror I thought to myself "I have become Skinner"), which
informs my hypothesis about why some on this list don't  want to go there.
We all have filters and blinkers.

Still very busy on other stuff that has to be done and so only doing
suggested reading in skim fashion but will get to it eventually.

On Wed, Sep 11, 2013 at 9:33 AM, Martin John Packer <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co
> wrote:

> I wonder if “scaling up” might not be the best metaphor? It seems to imply
> that what is required is making something that is small much larger, and of
> course what works in a small setting often doesn’t work as well, or at all,
> in a large setting.
> What about seeding, or catalyzing? Or providing a model? Here is where I
> think the power of a narrative, the story of a case, might lie. For someone
> who is faced with the same problem, a detailed story can provide the
> necessary information, or convey the journey that is involved, to
> replicate, or duplicate, or emulate what has been done successfully in one
> small setting. A narrative provides a model. It is a form of collaboration
> between one (small) site and another.
> Martin
> On Sep 9, 2013, at 7:23 PM, Helen Harper <helen.harper@bigpond.com> wrote:
> > Bill,
> > have we ever made anything work 'to scale' in education? I mean 'big
> picture' things, like teaching people to be literate, not 'small picture'
> things like teaching phonics. Specifically, has anyone ever, anywhere, made
> a big picture intervention work 'to scale' in educational settings where
> the target population is not already culturally predisposed to the
> discourses of schooling?
> >
> > Any studies anyone?
> > If so, would like to read them.
> >
> > Helen
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On 10/09/2013, at 9:42 AM, Bill Kerr wrote:
> >
> >> I have some reading to do (and it will take time since I'm very busy on
> >> something else at the moment). Thanks to those who have provided source
> >> material. I have commenced some reading and am not satisfied so far but
> >> don't propose to do nitpicking or "emotionally charged" responses as
> some
> >> have here.
> >>
> >> Here is my brief opinion on what counts as evidence. Evocative personal
> or
> >> individual stories / narratives and opinions do not count as strong
> >> evidence IMO. A narrative no matter how well told or touching is only a
> >> story about how one or a small group of individuals learnt to become
> good
> >> readers, who progressed to love literature and use it expertly etc.
> >>
> >> Also a theoretical model that appeals strongly to widely recognised
> >> progressive norms (freedom, autonomy, creativity etc.) does not in
> itself
> >> count as evidence ... unless demonstrated to scale to help large groups
> of
> >> disadvantaged progress to become literate citizens.
> >>
> >> What would count as convincing evidence for me is hard data about a
> large
> >> group of disadvantaged youngsters (more than one inspirational teacher
> in a
> >> single classroom) who have significant socio-economic barriers stacked
> >> against them and a way was found for them to turn them from not
> literate to
> >> literate, in this real, imperfect capitalist world.
> >>
> >> What I believe (perhaps wrongly) is that such evidence exists but that
> some
> >> find it hard to look at because of ideological predispositions, that we
> all
> >> have filters and blinkers and they operate in devious ways.
> >>
> >> I do not regard myself as an expert on reading instruction (and so I do
> >> have a lot of work to do) but I do regard myself as an expert on
> >> constructionism (Papert's and Minsky's version) used in the context of
> >> teaching maths and programming in disadvantaged schools. From that
> context
> >> I am setting a high bar, as any reformed smoker would.  ie. I have as an
> >> expert constructionist made it work well for the disadvantaged in a
> single
> >> classroom but failed totally in making it scale.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> On Tue, Sep 10, 2013 at 5:21 AM, White, Phillip
> >> <Phillip.White@ucdenver.edu>wrote:
> >>
> >>> Michael - first, many thanks for pointing out that the joy of reading
> is
> >>> much much more than just reading for information.  i was sloppy in my
> >>> singular use of the term "information", particularly in these days of
> high
> >>> stakes testing where comprehending "informational texts" is so highly
> >>> regarded.  i was using "information' in the sense of finding out about
> and
> >>> exploring the world that one is really interested in  -  an yes, i'm
> >>> working with a second grader who values reading as a way to learn
> >>> everything about Justin Bieber.  she's enthralled by the notion of a
> >>> penthouse, where he lives.
> >>>
> >>> and really, discovering story world of Virginia Woolf's in the early
> 60's
> >>> saved my ass.
> >>>
> >>> phillip
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Phillip White, PhD
> >>> Urban Community Teacher Education Program
> >>> Site Coordinator
> >>> Montview Elementary, Aurora, CO
> >>> phillip.white@ucdenver.edu
> >>> or
> >>> pawhite@aps.k12.co.us
> >>> ________________________________________
> >>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
> ]
> >>> On Behalf Of MICHAEL W SMITH [mwsmith@temple.edu]
> >>> Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 11:04 AM
> >>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> >>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: A Question about Reading and Motivation
> >>>
> >>> My research with adolescents suggests that the joy of reading
> includes, but
> >>> is not limited to the comprehension of information as the responses
> from
> >>> one 8th grade girl illustrates.  She does indeed talk about the
> pleasure of
> >>> learning information that she can put to use: “And then, using it? I
> guess
> >>> I just have a lot of the stuff, just sort of in my brain and then when
> that
> >>> kind of subject comes up, they’ll need the information I have. And
> then, I
> >>> can usually just tell people, ‘Oh, I just read this book, and it turns
> out
> >>> yadda-ya’ or sometimes I won’t even tell them I read the book. I’ll
> just
> >>> say, ‘Did you know?’ or ‘Oh I heard about that.’"
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> She also talks about the pleasure of entering a story world, which
> seems to
> >>> be something different than the way comprehension is traditionally
> >>> understood:  “ I get bored with my life sometimes. Not like super
> bored,
> >>> like midlife crisis bored, but just reality gets boring sometimes and
> its
> >>> cool to think about other stuff. I’m reading *The Clan of the Cave
> Bear*,
> >>> the second one, and it’s cool cuz it’s not everyday life, it’s
> something I
> >>> haven’t experienced, but I’m sort of semi-experiencing it.”
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Because she semi-experiences what the characters do, she can use her
> >>> reading to think about her life:  “Sometimes when, like, big stuff
> happens
> >>> in my life, I’ll think about what my favorite character would have
> done,
> >>> the ones I admire most. Also, sort of subconscious. I don’t stop and
> think
> >>> about what someone would do, it’s just something that happens. Like, I
> bet
> >>> so-and-so would be really brave about this, or, one of my favorite
> >>> characters would have totally sped after this guy. And then sometimes I
> >>> follow their example and sometimes I don’t. . . . They all have
> different
> >>> approaches, different ways they approach things, and then I try to
> apply
> >>> that to my life, to see which way works for me. Characters are just
> ways of
> >>> thinking, really.”
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Sometimes the pleasure she describes seems to be a more detached
> >>> intellectual pleasure:  “I like to think also about what the author
> could
> >>> have written instead of what they did write, like different endings,
> like a
> >>> dramatic part, I’ll stop and think about what could happen next, and
> then
> >>> read and see what does happen. I just finished reading one, and it’s
> got a
> >>> really cliffhanger ending, and I haven’t bought the next book yet, and
> I’m
> >>> coming up with all these ideas about what happened next.”
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> And finally, she talks about the pleasure she gains from using her
> reading
> >>> to deepen her relationship with others:  “When I take [the books] home,
> >>> actually I start reading my book on the car ride back from the book
> store
> >>> most of the time. My dad and I always go to Baja Fresh after the book
> >>> store, because it’s right there and pretty good Mexican food. We have
> an
> >>> inside joke, we say,  ‘Are we going to eat like people or are we going
> to
> >>> read and eat at the same time,’ and I say, ‘Dad, shush I’m reading.’”
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> The young people we talked to were remarkably articulate about the
> variety
> >>> of ways they  took joy from reading.
> >>>
> >>> Michael
> >>>
> >>> --
> >>> 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
> >>>
> >>>
> >
> >
> >