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[Xmca-l] Re: Direct link to article for discussion

Dear Larry, and anyone interested in this discussion, :) , 

I often feel like I have been struggling with the same ideas for years, sometimes they gel.  But more often I get hung up on ideas that I feel like I may just sort through eventually, but haven't yet. Thanks for reminding me of the piece I wrote 10 years ago now. It feels like 10 years or more, and there's proof that it has been at least that long! I'm not sure if I'm making any progress sorting things out, but these are issues that become even more compelling as I watch my daughters grow and begin formal schooling.

>From the beginning, the piece tried to cover, perhaps, too much ground, and we carved it in several different ways as we revised it. The first section was much longer initially, but it was reduced so that we could get at explicating and extending some ideas a bit. I'll share a couple thoughts here in relation to what you've written, Larry, and see what, if anything is interesting to folks to discuss.

1) In Vancouver, where I live, there is currently lots of attention to social and emotional learning, and many of my colleagues are ecstatic, but it is very much as an add on, very much about skill sets, and 8 week programs. Larry, what you've noted below about developing "dispositions" through "shared ideals" that "permeate" the culture of the school sits easily with Vygotsky's ideas, but for some reason, for many reasons, it is almost impossible for some people to imagine. Why is this? Is it because of our cultural values regarding individualism? Is it because we are concerned about talking about shared ideals? Is it because we are quite happy to dichotomize thinking and feeling, there are some benefits to doing so? What other reasons are influencing this situation? 

2) This is the place where I begin to get stuck: what can we do differently, what can we do to challenge fragmenting learning and development and reducing social and emotional learning to skill sets? I have colleagues that tell me that social and emotional learning is undertheorized, that their work is largely atheoretical, and this in part motivated the work on this piece. Here is a theory that could ground social and emotional learning and development and ground it in a way that doesn't simply carve another type of learning and development from whole children and adults. I wonder, what are the possibilities of Vygotsky's ideas for rethinking how we teach, how we engage, how we do things in schools? Who will take up these ideas?

3) Another place where I get stuck: what happens if we as a society don't really want to change things in schools? What happens if part of the "way schools work" is that they fragment learning and children? The children who can sort out how to survive in spite of the social environment move forward, so this fragmentation of whole children is functional as a sorting function, rather than disfunctional. 

4) And this leads to the central issue of ethics, and I'm still stuck: A final concept that both fascinates and troubles me is linked with prolepsis. It fascinates because of the potential, the possibilities, and it troubles me because of the responsibility. 

If we can see possible futures in a child's present, in the lived experiences and living conditions within which that child grows, what is our responsibility for acting in ways that improve the range of or conditions for possible futures? Who decides and how do we decide on actions? Are there ways in which to tease out issues around cultural differences and "what ought to be done for/with this particular child"? 

I'll come back to this tomorrow with a fresh set of eyes, so many interconnected issues - best to all - jen

On 2013-09-13, at 7:53 AM, Larry Purss wrote:

> Jennifer, Rachael,
> Focusing on 3 words that carry relational meanings as *spirit* or *ideal* I
> want to foreground  three words used by Vygotsky in a quote on page 203:
> to *PERMEATE*  school environments
> The school has to *PENETRATE* and *ENVELOP* THE LIFE OF THE CHILD .
> These three words, to permeate, penetrate, and envelop as KEYSTONE IDEALS
> which lead to dispositions developing moral character within the intimate
> and friendly interpsychological plane of school environments.
> THIS is a radicalization of the purposes of learning leading develop and is
> clarifying a radical shift or turn in re-purposing school environments.
> I appreciate your opening the article with this particular Vygotskian quote
> to focus the theme of the paper.
> Larry
> On Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 11:45 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Jennifer and Rebecca
>> I read your article with anticipation, and was reflecting on my level of
>> interest as a counselor working in public schools.
>> The central question posed in your title,
>> "Where do we locate social and emotional learning in schooled
>> environments?" is a profoundly relevant question within historically
>> situated *school discourse"
>> I want to open my comments by referring back to an article Jennifer wrote
>> ten years ago which shows this question continues to remain relevant over
>> time.
>> Jennifer wrote,
>> "Indeed, we are participant observers of the processes of the human mind;
>> ourselves always embedded within it and experiencing the world filtered
>> through it. And to make matters more complicated, the cognition and emotion
>> couplet is ITSELF a moving target., changing through the use of cultural
>> tools, creating new tools, and shifting again; a messy and potentially
>> regressive process, rather than a linear or teleological one....What we are
>> actually dealing with [theory of consciousness] is both a revolutionary
>> (Vygotsky, 1978) and a dialogical (Bahktin, 1981; 1986) process of
>> cognitive/emotive/discursive change over time. A process fuelled by the
>> activity of human agents engaged with cultural tools and situated through
>> social and historical relations"
>> The current article continues this quest tracking the elusive moving
>> target of the cognition/emotion couplet which is now being played out
>> across all public schools. I want to explore the second section of the
>> article which clarifies and foregrounds the conceptual terms [unity, word
>> meaning, perezhivanie,] as units of analysis I also want to explore the
>> third section which extends the cognition/emotion couplet through exploring
>> feeling, emotion, and affect and *verbal feeling.
>> However, I know others will return to these critical aspects of the paper,
>> therefore I will foreground section one which opens the dialogue on the
>> current ways social/emotional learning is approached as a subject matter.
>> Jennifer and Rebecca mention that social-emotional learning has been met
>> with a strong critique on multiple fronts. I wonder if any of these fronts
>> are visible within public school settings, or if the fronts are mostly
>> visible within university departments?
>> I experience conversations in schools focusing on *skills* and *programs*
>> to teach these discrete skills. The article mentions by 2003 there were
>> over 200 distinct programs had been created to ADDRESS SEL, with multiple
>> moving targets [reduce bullying, teach character education, or as stand
>> alone programs to teach SEL skills.
>> an alternative approach, as mentioned in the article is the implied
>> assumption that by Kindergarten social emotional development SHOULD be well
>> developed so is NOT a relevant subject matter for K to 12 schooling.
>> I would concur that these are the typical responses to address or answer
>> "Where do we locate social-emotional learning in school environments?"
>> However, this article does offer another approach which I hope we will
>> explore further. I want to quote the last paragraph of section one:
>> "Clearly there is a need to develop approaches to social and emotional
>> education that reduces the emphasis on behavioral skill sets and individual
>> assessments and, instead, develop methods for linking social and emotional
>> IDEALS with social practices in schools (Hoffman, 2009) Among other things,
>> this would require "connecting the language of research more REALISTICALLY
>> and more humanely with the language and EXPERIENCE of emotion in teaching
>> and learning, and not substitute one for the other" (p.546). IN this
>> context of schooling, a Vygotskian perspective may be a much needed and
>> radical response"
>> I highlighted the word *ideal* as this word implied SHARED IDEALS. On page
>> 202 of the article Jennifer and Rachael emphasize Vygotsky saw schools as
>> locations to develop not only *competencies* but also DISPOSITIONS TOWARD
>> ETHICAL ACTIONS. At the CENTER of THIS process was the social environment
>> of the school as the location for social emotional learning.
>> I see this appeal to SHARED IDEALS and the question of how we collectively
>> develop SHARED EXPLICIT IDEALS as a central question which Jennifer and
>> Rachael address and give their "answer".
>> If the arena or stage is not individual virtue, or collectively FORMED
>> rules, but rather developing *dispositions* how do we traverse the notions
>> of classroom teacher *autonomy* .
>> I want to acknowledge my appreciation for opening this space to explore
>> this shifting, turning, crisscrossing theme of the unity of cognition &
>> emotion. The heart of the paper is conceptual elaboration and clarity and
>> the article does this brilliantly.
>> However, I chose to highlight the actual current historical situation in
>> many schools.
>> Larry
>> On Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 3:53 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>>> For those of you who missed it, here is the article for discussion on the
>>> xmca website.
>>> mike
>>> http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Journal/pdfs/20-3-vadeboncoeur.pdf