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[Xmca-l] Re: Article on Positioning Theory

I wonder if you could speak more about the endemic nature of failure in
collaboration? (and/or the inherent deficit of ANY collaboration?)

Perhaps some more examples of the kind of thing that you are seeing as
being systematic and consistent across all (nearly all?) instances of

If I'm following you, your key point is that there may be (always will be?)
people for whom collaboration will not work and for whom there is no such
thing as a good collaboration (e.g., p. 50 - "for some students...
collaboration may not be in their best interests").

Do you feel that there is no way to help students (both the alienated and
the alienating) to be better collaborators? And do you feel that these are
inherent characteristics of these students or does it matter what types of
groups they are being asked to collaborate with? Am I missing your point

(and I can't help but wonder about the larger cultural contexts in which
these social contexts are built and the degree to which the failure of
collaboration might actually be pointing us to a larger failure - a
system(at)ic social/cultural failure in which social exclusion is demanded
by our dominant social system and the exclusions observed in classroom
collaborations are just children doing what they have learned is "normal";
but maybe things are different in Canada?).

My rose colored collaboration glasses seem to be stuck to my head and, much
as I try, I can't get them off. Perhaps you can help me remove them?


On Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 12:52 PM, Donna Kotsopoulos <dkotsopo@wlu.ca> wrote:

> I'll have to think about some more about your ideas. My immediate thought
> when I read "essentialize the student, as well as view them as having a
> deficit," was, no. More inline with my thinking is that it may be more that
> my assertions essentialize humans working together more generally (in the
> plural) rather than one student or any one person. It is a deficit of group
> dynamics rather than of an individual.
> It might be worth turning our attention to another student in the article,
> Will. Will's participation in the group was unchallenged despite his level
> of engagement. In early drafts of the paper, I talked about his productive
> privileging - also using productive in a dystopic sense. This didn't make
> it into the paper - which is an altogether different discussion about
> attempts to theorize; however, Will also illustrates a different type of
> deficit that is privilege by the group. It isn't Will or Mitchell that is a
> deficit. The deficit exists inherently in any collaborative endeavor.
> I should make clear that I started out as collaborative learning
> enthusiast. Indeed, my view is that much of individual's success in life is
> situated in their ability to work with others. That being said, my research
> illustrates that the learning that is intended and the learning that
> actually materializes is often quite different. So approaching
> collaborative learning form this lense is now different for me.
> Collaborative learning has pretty much been seen from pretty rosy glasses.
> It's been the slayer of teacher directed learning. My research suggests a
> more critical perspective is warranted.
> d.
> Donna Kotsopoulos, Ph.D.
> Associate Professor
> Faculty of Education & Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics
> Wilfrid Laurier University
> 75 University Avenue West, BA313K
> Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3C5
> (519) 884-0710 x 3953
> www.wlu.ca/education/dkotsopoulos
> www.wlu.ca/mathbrains
> DISCLAIMER: This e-mail and any file(s) transmitted with it, is intended
> for the exclusive use by the person(s) mentioned above as recipient(s). Any
> unauthorized distribution, copying or other use is strictly prohibited.
> >>> On 3/27/2014 at 2:30 PM, in message
> <E23E629A42F087498471D39762DF7EB2DCA4221EC2@ESTES.ucdenver.pvt>, "White,
> Phillip" <Phillip.White@ucdenver.edu> wrote:
> greetings, again Donna  -
> i do agree with Huw here, that the difficulties you've uncovered in your
> ethnography reflects what i was initially attempting to get across to you
> in my first posting.
> which is why i'm uncertain in accepting your conclusion that "for some
> students, like Mitchell, working collaboratively may not be in their best
> interests."  you have asserted that the classroom teacher is exemplary, yet
> there is no evidence to support this description within your ethnography.
>  as a clinical teacher coach and classroom teacher for more than forty
> years, i'd be prone to wonder, based on the described behavior of the three
> girls, exactly what conditions for learning (Cambourne) were actually in
> place.
> i have found the ethnography highly thought provoking and strongly
> connected with your deep sympathy for students who are marginalized ...  at
> the same time, positioning is an endemic tension not only in classrooms but
> throughout all of society's points of collaboration - certainly the
> inherent political and social injustices of position was first brought to
> my attention reading the works of Gloria Steinem, for example.
> what i fear is that by following your suggestion that for students who
> experience difficulties in collaboration, by understanding the activity
> itself of collaboration as not in their best interests, is to both
> essentialize the student, as well as view them as having a deficit.
> 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 Huw Lloyd [huw.softdesigns@gmail.com]
> Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2014 10:33 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Article on Positioning Theory
> Dear Donna,
> The impressions I thought about were:
> 1. The difficult task of establishing a collaboration so that everyone is
> committed voluntarily and that allows for re-appraisal of the commitments.
> That is, to establish a task in which "positions" are not a big deal.
> 2. Problematic aspects of the activity: the priming of a competitive schema
> in the positioning questionaire and the operational nature of much of the
> work.  It seems to me that the collaborative conjuction of the various
> operations (cutting shapes etc) is in the ongoing planning and directives,
> but that the emphasis is on the making.
> 3. The relations of "posiitioning" to inferential perspectives (Brandom)
> and methods to show its "genesis".
> So this seems, to me, to be all about the difficulty children have with
> planning and thinking about their tasks: how they need to be doing them in
> order to help them think about the planning but also the potential
> amplification of the problem if they are doing it in a "scrum".
> I think what you are reporting serves to elucidate the complexity (for the
> children) in this task and how the difficulties in coming up against this
> complexity may obscure the intended mathematical content (i.e. reduce the
> salience of the mathematical concepts).
> Perhaps, one basic activity theoretic contribution would be to seek to
> calibrate the complexity of the collaboration to the point whereby the
> mathematical concepts themselves become the issues that dominate the
> planning.
> Thank you for presenting the paper!
> Best,
> Huw

Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
Status: O