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[Xmca-l] Re: Article on Positioning Theory
- To: Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Article on Positioning Theory
- From: Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2014 14:18:21 -0700
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Andy, Huw, Donna, Greg, Jennifer and others who have responded
The exploration of positioning theory has generated multiple discussions
which have been stimulated by Donna's article under discussion. One theme
that seems vital is to explore *evaluative practices* and how we arrive at
our shared values within collaborations. Jennifer's exploration of voice,
Huw's referencing inferential positioning, collaboration as having
*aspects* that are both constraining and freeing AS multiple TYPES, and the
complexity of coming to shared understandings.
On page 52 of the article "Positioning Theory: Vygotsky, Wittgenstein, and
Social Constructionis Theory" Dorothy Howie and Michael Peters conclude the
sub-section on "The New Social Psychology and the Russian Humanistic
Tradition" with this comment on evaluative practices.
"In conclusion to this section, there are implications of this cultural
embeddedness of meanings as expressed in institutional practices and
conversations for the interpreting and use of Positioning Theory FOR
EVALUATIVE practices IN GENERAL"
Andy's comments on TYPES of collaboration in general AS evaluative
practices and the exploration of KINDS of positioning.
This section ends with a quote from Harre and Van Lagenhove, 1991:p404]
"... the cataloguing of KINDS of positions that exist here and now will not
necessarily be found at other places and times. In so far as the content of
a position is DEFINED in terms of rights, duties and obligations of
speaking, and these 'MORAL' properties are locally and momentarily
specified, positions will be unstable in content as well"
To return to the article under discussion, Greg asked if the dynamics in
the middle school math class as *observed* are particular KINDS of
collaboration emerging within specific culturally and historically
There seems to be an *evaluative* ASPECT to understanding positioning
theory that expands and extends the complexity of collaborative practices
[the article I have referenced has free access because the publisher
allows free access to 3 articles from their journals over a 14 day period] .
On Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 7:26 AM, Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I experienced your question and as a sudden shift in the collaboration.
> The exploration of positioning theory was moving in the direction of
> questioning the potential of collaboration is an ideal that may be
> constrained. The *meaning* of collaboration was being modified and tending
> in one direction.
> Your reflection on the value of reflection as a *core* value shifted our
> engagement with this concept and collaboration *felt* different.
> Collaboration went from feeling *suspect* to being a valued term. THIS
> phenomena as felt tendency re-positions the concept of collaboration in
> our community.
> Andy, you then propose the more appropriate *posing* [positioning] of this
> question must be *what TYPE of collaboration* is or is not in the best
> interest of this or that student. Which then poses/positions the question
> of "What TYPES of collaboration are there?".
> You suggest that EACH TYPE has a NORM and the particular ways the students
> in this class are *normed* I would pose as expressing a particular VALUE
> Therefore *types* AND *posings* AND *positionings* AND *values* AND
> *norms* OF collaboration becomes a particular TYPE of storyline [genre??]
> You are suggesting the concept *collaborative* is preferable to
> *discourse*. I'm assuming you also would prefer *collaboration* to the
> concept *dialogue*.
> I am curious if others share Andy's preference for the concept
> *collaboration* and exploring TYPES OR KINDS of collaboration as a way to
> *reveal* [unmask??] the dynamic flow of *streams* of collaboration
> as expanding and extending the understanding of BOTH positioning theory AND
> I will send a comment on another post which indicates the origin of
> Harre's positioning theory within Vygotsky's cultural historical theory AS
> a humanistic storyline
> On Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 1:37 AM, Andy Blunden <email@example.com> 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
>> *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
>>> 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.