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[Xmca-l] Re: Article on Positioning Theory

I'll try to address the recent comments in one email.

Yes, I fully agree with Andy that every human relationship is an instance of collaboration. This should suggest that more realistic expectations of school based collaborations are in order. There is compromise with every human relationship and the same is true in collaborative activities with children and schools. 

Andy's point about the need for a conceptual framework for these types of understanding such human relations and interactions in a school setting is interesting. Such a framework would have to include the possibility of compromise, an open lens attending to productive silencing and what I had referred to in earlier drafts as productive privileging (Will's case in the article), a critical evaluation of learning and the kinds of learning that has taken place. 

David Kellog asked about "storylines" and illustrated that he may have had an alternative read of the exchange with Mitchell. The definition I used in the paper for storylines is pretty common - but also limiting for precisely the reasons David illustrated in his response and Andy's comments. I also mentioned in an earlier response that another researcher had very similar videos to mine and did not see any of the productive silencing that I saw in both our videos. The storyline is fundamentally subjective in the absence of more fulsome frameworks for understanding such human interactions with children. These frameworks have to go beyond prescription (i.e., if you have x, y, and z, and if you do x, y, and z, and if the task looks like this, then it all works!).

David also mentioned the Hawthorne Effect. Interesting comment. I have written another paper about this work which uses Foucault's work with surveillance. The main influence in changing the "collaboration" of the students was related to what I refer to as "self-surveillance" (see: Kotsopoulos, D. (2010).  When collaborative is not collaborative: Supporting peer learning through self-surveillance. International Journal of Educational Research, 49, 129-140.).

Just to share with the group, across all of the work that I have done in my academic career. Reporting on this study was the toughest. The results, and the idea of proposing theory, made this work particularly challenging. Theorizing is tougher than I thought and proposing theory is almost impossible to do! I've reported lots of results from lots of studies, but only this one has resulted in theory.


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

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>>> On 3/28/2014 at 4:37 AM, in message <533534E2.3000307@mira.net>, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

Donna, I agree that "Collaboration is incredible complex" but then you
add "and hard to achieve."
Rather than taking it that "collaboration" means one very strictly
defined norm, couldn't we accept that all the phenomena you describe
(and more) are aspects of collaboration, and that there is more than one
norm of collaboratin and many more ways of falling short of normativity,
of being betrayed, exploited, disappointed, misunderstood, etc., etc.? I
prefer to take every human relationship as an instance of collaboration,
that is, I take collaboration as the lens through which to understand
human relationships. But rather than setting up one norm against which
every human experience turns out to be a dreadful failure, we could see
every human experience as being a window on the experience of
collaboration, the expectations, the productivity, the potential for
disappointment, exploitation, etc.? Is there a better way to understand
human relationship? Discourse? I think "collaboration" is a superior
conceptual framework than "discouse."

*Andy Blunden*

Donna Kotsopoulos wrote:
> Thanks for the probes, Greg!
> I think that to answer your question, I may need to ask a series of rhetorical questions.
> Have you ever worked collaboratively with others where:
> (a) someone had to agree to disagree?
> (b) there was a slacker in the group?
> (c) someone did all the work and all the talking?
> (d) there was consensus but you wouldn't have called it collaboration?
> (e) what you hoped to gain from the experience was not up to what you expected?
> I believe most people, including children, would answer yes to some or all of those questions. This is because there is an endemic deficit to collaboration that has been ignored in the literature in my view. It's been a cup overflowing discourse despite the realities of many people.
> I still have students collaborate - pretty extensively. My goals and expectations are different now. My approach in sharing the expectations is different now. I address those rhetorical questions head-on and encourage the students to own their own responsibility and to keep others accountable.
> To some extent collaboration is merely an illusion. While we hope that shared discourse leads to learning, this can't be assumed and what is learned, intended or otherwise, can't be assumed. Similar to teacher directed learning, collaborative learning doesn't work for everyone. If an artifact or a decision is the outcome of collaborations, it is probable that someone in the group perhaps didn't agree or had alternative ideas. Collaboration and consensus are different. Collaboration is incredible complex and hard to achieve. Even as adults, the challenge is formidable - its because there is an illusion that must be perpetuated in order to achieve an end. Ultimately, a united front is presented - despite the fact that there may have been problems.
> Donna Kotsopoulos, Ph.D.