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[Xmca-l] Re: Article on Positioning Theory



Andy,
you wrote,
as Greg pointed out, the acceptable and expected modes of collaboration are
also created before the kids walk into the classroom.
So positioning and collaboration are cultural products which pre-exist
their instantiation in any collaborative act.

I want to add a comment that it may be BOTH pre-existing AND emerging.
Following is a reflection on Dorothy Howie's and Michael Peters article
"Positioning Theory: Vygotsky, Wittgenstein, and Social Constructionist
Theory".  I will focus in on the emergent *aspect* of positioning theory.
It also explores Greg's Vygotsky- Heidegger question. I am referencing page
59 and 60.
Dorothy Howie is exploring the processes involved in the ENHANCEMENT of
reciprocity and empathy.which recognizes and affirms the uniqueness of
conversational partners within  a SYMBIOTIC relationship which Harre
attributes to his reading of Vygotsky.
Harre [in a quote by Howie] states,
"I shall use the term [psychological symbiosis] for every case in which a
group of people complete through public SYMBIOTIC activity, particulary in
speaking for each other inadequate social and psychological beings."

Vygotsky cites as an example of symbiotic relationship the way in which a
mother gives meaning to a child's unsuccessful grasping activity so that it
is later understood as pointing.
Such SUPPLEMENTATION AND ENHANCEMENT of meanings as a stream of positioning
can also be found in adult well developed individuals.
On this theme Dorothy then brings in Bahktin to her exploration of the
interpersonal social psychology. Bahktin's awareness that we do not ENTER
INTO dialogue but rather one EXISTS WITHIN an ongoing and unfinalizable
process of conversation
Dorothy then adds that this conversational process can even include a
SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP with literature. Literature can *speak for us* and
reflecting on this symbiotic *voice of the other* within our internal
conversations we construct new meanings and sense relating to our self and
our *worlds* [as positions]
Dorothy then moves to Kozulin's exploration of this symbiotic relationship.
Dorothy quote Kozulin as interpreting Vygotsky when Kozulin wrote,

"intrapsychologically, a person as an author communicates with himself AS A
READER with the help of similar symbolic mediators. Artistic discourse is
therefore neither a REPRESENTATION nor an EMBELLISHMENT of  life, but its
most POWERFUL PARADIGM.

Andy, I want to emphasize that I am exploring an ASPECT of positioning
theory which may extend and expand the reflections on the pre-existing
aspects of positioning theory.
Symbiotic *felt tendency* may be exploring particular TYPES OR KINDS of
collaboration.
It may relate to Russian Humanism which some readers will privilege while
others attend more to the pre-existing  institutional aspects as other
TYPES OR KINDS of collaboration.

Greg,
 I read Kozulin and Shotter and Harre and Donna's article as extending this
ASPECT of positioning theory as *felt tendency* [William James] This in no
way backgrounds  the institutional aspects of positioning theory and the
social rhetorical aspects of positioning theory. However, this aspect does
share a family resemblance with Bahktin's and Heidegger's and Gadamer's
understanding of existing WITHIN experience.
The interpersonal NOT as two pre-existing *objects* which then enter into
relationships but rather exploring the aspect of experience which is
foregrounding the relational dynamic processes within which persons develop.

This is my personal *reading* of positioning theoryand may be very
idiosyncratic .

Mike,
I did not attach Dorothy Howie's article to XMCA
I googled "positioning theory and Vygotsky* and found the article. In the
top right corner of the website displaying the article's abstract you can
click on *register* and then you can download  3 journalarticles free in a
14 day period.
Larry







On Sat, Mar 29, 2014 at 5:43 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> I'm learning a lot from all this! :)
> If (in my example of the artist hiring a technician) we were to ask "How
> is the technician positioned as a technician and how is the artist
> positioned as an artist?" I am assuming that my reader has acquired  the
> same concepts of "technician" and "artist", that is, that they are somewhat
> educated citizens of a society in which these "roles" (?) are meaningful.
> In other words, "positioning" is something which takes place to a great
> extent before the collaborators meet.
> Likewise, as Greg pointed out, the acceptable and expected modes of
> collaboration are also created before the kids walk into the classroom.
> So positioning and collaboration are cultural products which pre-exist
> their instantiation in any collaborative act.
>
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>
>
> Greg Thompson wrote:
>
>> Lynda,
>> Your email points to an interesting tension that I think is at the center
>> of the discussion of Donna's paper. On the one hand you note that
>> collaboration is hard wired, biological, and (seemingly) inevitable. On
>> the
>> other hand you point out that we have to teach children to collaborate,
>> and
>> collaborative classrooms can be contrasted with traditional education
>> (which is, by implication, not collaborative).
>>
>> I take Andy's point to be that even traditional education is collaborative
>> - just a different kind of collaboration from what you find in a
>> "collaborative classroom." But the kind of collaboration we find in
>> traditional classrooms might not be a good type of collaboration for
>> everyone just as the "collaborative classrooms that Donna describes appear
>> not to be good for everyone.
>>
>> Thus, we see two notions of collaboration. One in which "collaboration" is
>> everywhere (even in traditional education!) and the other in which it must
>> be "accomplished" or "made" by particular means - "collaborative
>> classrooms".
>>
>> That seems to me to be one of the central tensions between folks
>> discussing
>> on the listserve.
>>
>> And it seems to me like there is some really important work still to be
>> done in laying bare this contradiction between notions of "collaboration"
>> and notions of "classroom collaboration".
>>
>> For example, how can we find "collaboration" in unexpected places (e.g.
>> "traditional education")? Similarly, how the different configurations of
>> "collaboration" can be differently productive for different children. And
>> also important, as Donna has pointed out, how might "classroom
>> collaboration" not be so "collaborative"?!
>>
>> So then with this distinction, we might say that "collaborative
>> classrooms"
>> might not be a panacea, but we could hardly solve any of the many problems
>> that confront us without some form of "collaboration."
>>
>> That's just my two nickels worth.
>> (same as yesterday's two cents but adjusted for inflation).
>> -greg
>>
>> "But also when I am active scientifically, etc. - an activity which I can
>> seldom perform in direct community with others - then my activity is
>> social, because I perform it as a man. Not only is the material of my
>> activity given to me as a social product (as is even the language in which
>> the thinker is active): my own existence is social activity, and therefore
>> that which I make of myself, I make of myself for society and with the
>> consciousness of myself as a social being."
>> Marx, 1844, p. 298
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On Sat, Mar 29, 2014 at 12:01 PM, Stone, Lynda <lstone@skymail.csus.edu>
>> wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>>> Hi Greg!
>>>
>>> Well I generally try to maintain my role as a lurker---but I'm dropping
>>> in
>>> to make
>>> a  comment or two--hope they make sense and are of some help.
>>>
>>> Andy's point may be what is needed to shape the trajectory of the
>>> conversation
>>> around collaboration.  Although his reason may be grounded in a Marxist
>>> angle, equally
>>> important is a biological one.  We are hard wired to collaborate---we
>>> come
>>> with the
>>> ability to engage in intersubjectivity, a fundamentally collaborative
>>> process.  So, each
>>> and every time peers, teachers and students, etc. come to some relatively
>>> shared
>>> understandings, feelings, or interactively enact an identity, and so
>>> forth, they are engaged
>>> in collaborative acts, i.e.,more than one person/child taking part in an
>>> event/activity.  And,
>>> because events/activities come into existence through discourse practices
>>> and are influenced
>>> by the local culture (its historical past & connection to the larger
>>> culture), to understand
>>> collaboration from participants' point of view requires an understanding
>>> of the situation
>>> they are in and how this  situation emerges over time---so, collaboration
>>> in educational settings
>>> is not only a way of "rethinking/restructuring" engagement in contrast to
>>> traditional educational
>>> practices--collaboration is   itself part of a developmental process,
>>> just
>>> as infants learn how over
>>> time  to collaborate with their parents in different cultures.
>>>
>>> So, Andy's questions:   "What kinds of collaborations are needed at this
>>> moment?  And, "how
>>> should they be configured?" can be combined with so many other contextual
>>> questions that can
>>> help unravel what collaboration means and how should collaboration be
>>> configured.  For example,
>>> how do children come to value (or see as morally right)
>>> helping/coordinating behaviors? Under
>>> what circumstances to children collaborate (help) each other and how is
>>> this related to the social
>>> norms and expectations?  I have found that the context shapes what
>>> collaboration means and as a
>>> consequence influences the social processes that enable children to
>>> cooperate (or not) with each other.
>>> An essential part of any collaboration, as Donna points out, is a
>>> positioning process---one that is also
>>> influenced by the meaning/definition/value/moral aspects of engaging in
>>> learning activity with others.
>>>
>>> There are so many other questions to be asked to figure out
>>> "collaboration"---I hope my musings
>>> on the topic contributes a bit.  In any case, Donna's paper has certainly
>>> pushed my thinking--
>>>
>>> An appreciative lurker!
>>> -lynda
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> What KINDS of
>>>
>>>
>>>> collaborations are needed at this moment? How should they be configured.
>>>>
>>>>
>>> On Mar 29, 2014, at 7:50 AM, Greg Thompson wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>> Folks, if I may jump in here, I think that there is a definitional
>>>>
>>>>
>>> problem
>>>
>>>
>>>> here: What is collaboration?
>>>>
>>>> Andy seems to be coming at this from the Marx's angle that to be human
>>>> is
>>>> to collaborate (man is a zoopoliticon - humans are collaborative all the
>>>> way down...). I think from Andy's point would be that all classrooms are
>>>> collaborative. But this isn't the way that most ed researchers think.
>>>>
>>>> The ideology of individualism runs rampant in much theorizing about
>>>> education. Ed researchers start at square one that says that students
>>>>
>>>>
>>> begin
>>>
>>>
>>>> as individuals. In this case "collaboration" is an activity that one
>>>> must
>>>> ACTIVELY make happen in the classroom (or anywhere else for that
>>>> matter).
>>>> "Group projects" and "collaborative classrooms" are seen as exceptions
>>>> to
>>>> the rule of "individualized learning" that is taken as the norm. And in
>>>> theorizing about education, "collaborative classroom" has a very
>>>>
>>>>
>>> particular
>>>
>>>
>>>> meaning (I'm not very familiar with this lit, but I gather this is true
>>>> from what Donna has told us - here and in her paper).
>>>>
>>>> I'd add that there is a counterpart in the business world that follows
>>>>
>>>>
>>> this
>>>
>>>
>>>> same kind of thinking - it's called "working in teams." Again, this
>>>> involves an active and conscious decision to do something different from
>>>> what people normally do (i.e. "individual work") and have them work
>>>> together. Most folks in business know this genre/frame of interaction.
>>>>
>>>>
>>> Some
>>>
>>>
>>>> are head over heels for it and some loathe it (one of Donna's points).
>>>>
>>>>
>>> But
>>>
>>>
>>>> it seems to generally be accepted that "collaboration" is something
>>>> unnatural that one must "make" happen.
>>>>
>>>> It is this notion of "collaboration" that Donna is going after. And in
>>>>
>>>>
>>> the
>>>
>>>
>>>> literature I'm willing to bet that people talk of "collaborative
>>>> classrooms" as a panacea (this is how every "new" idea in education is
>>>>
>>>>
>>> sold
>>>
>>>
>>>> to people). Frankly, I think this makes for a very weak view of
>>>> collaboration - and one in need of criticism (as Donna has done).
>>>>
>>>> So I think that this would be a very interesting direction to pursue the
>>>> questions that Donna has raised in more depth: what is this discourse
>>>>
>>>>
>>> about
>>>
>>>
>>>> "collaborative classrooms" all about? What are the fundamental
>>>>
>>>>
>>> assumptions
>>>
>>>
>>>> that serve as the starting point against which "collaborative
>>>> classrooms"
>>>> are seen as having to be "made"? And, to follow Andy's thinking, isn't
>>>> collaboration always already there in the classroom - in the class
>>>>
>>>>
>>> clown's
>>>
>>>
>>>> jokes, in the passing of notes during class, the conspiring against the
>>>> teacher or conspiring with the teacher against another class or the
>>>> principal, etc. (and I bet if you looked closer, you'd find that even
>>>> Mitchell is involved in some pretty impressive collaborations in this
>>>> classroom! It's just that they won't be happening during those times
>>>> that
>>>> are EXPLICITLY marked as "collaborative work").
>>>>
>>>> And I think this will naturally lead not to the question of "to
>>>>
>>>>
>>> collaborate
>>>
>>>
>>>> or not to collaborate" but rather to Andy's question: What KINDS of
>>>> collaborations are needed at this moment? How should they be configured.
>>>>
>>>> Collaboration anyone?
>>>> -greg
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On Sat, Mar 29, 2014 at 5:58 AM, Donna Kotsopoulos <dkotsopo@wlu.ca>
>>>>
>>>>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>> It's been a pleasure joining the group so thank you for this
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> invitation. I
>>>
>>>
>>>> admire the scholarly exchange and it has really stretched my thinking
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> in a
>>>
>>>
>>>> number of ways.
>>>>>
>>>>> Yes, for some students collaboration may not be in their best interest
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> to
>>>
>>>
>>>> collaborate. Our objectives as teachers to have them collaborate, may
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> not
>>>
>>>
>>>> be very relevant to the student or may be even harmful. That student
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> that
>>>
>>>
>>>> really ought to have an option has to compromise something in such
>>>>> instances - their emotional, social, and or intellectual well
>>>>> being/advancement, for example. That being said, any collaborative
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> effort
>>>
>>>
>>>> is a compromise of sort for each person. This is the very essence of
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> human
>>>
>>>
>>>> interaction. It's the degree and the damage from the compromise that
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> must
>>>
>>>
>>>> be weighted.
>>>>>
>>>>> Mitchell likely would have picked another person to work with if given
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> the
>>>
>>>
>>>> option to work alone or work with a partner or small group. I would
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> surmise
>>>
>>>
>>>> that the students he would have picked out would have been "nice"
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> students,
>>>
>>>
>>>> for lack of better words, than stars mathematically.
>>>>>
>>>>> Alice would have picked the cool kids to work with. She would have
>>>>> compromised her intellectual outcomes.
>>>>>
>>>>> Ella would have picked the smartest in the class by her standards, and
>>>>> then should have tried to outsmart them. Ella is another interesting
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> case.
>>>
>>>
>>>> Always the perpetrator in every group she was in regardless of the group
>>>>> membership. Ella was also the class Victorian that year. She would
>>>>> compromise social relationships to achieve her means to her end.
>>>>>
>>>>> Will would have picked those students that would have done the work for
>>>>> him. Learning was an easy compromise for him.
>>>>>
>>>>> Collaboration means compromise in my mind. Regardless of the context.
>>>>>
>>>>> 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 3/28/2014 at 9:54 AM, in message <53357F22.1070109@mira.net>,
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> Andy
>>>
>>>
>>>> Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>> Thank you, Donna, BTW, for your generous use of your time and energy to
>>>>> discuss these issues with XMCA-ers.
>>>>>
>>>>> I think this means then, Donna, that it cannot quite make sense to say
>>>>> that "for some students... collaboration may not be in their best
>>>>> interests", for the more appropriate posing 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 the question of "What types of
>>>>> collaboration are there?" rather than turning to the detailed
>>>>> mechanisms
>>>>> by which a given individual is positioned in a way which may be
>>>>> damaging
>>>>> to them.
>>>>>
>>>>> What do you mean by "compromise" in this context, Donna?
>>>>>
>>>>> Andy
>>>>>
>>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>> ------------
>>>>> *Andy Blunden*
>>>>> http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Donna Kotsopoulos wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>> 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.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>> --
>>>> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
>>>> Assistant Professor
>>>> Department of Anthropology
>>>> 883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
>>>> Brigham Young University
>>>> Provo, UT 84602
>>>> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>
>
Status: O