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[Xmca-l] Re: Article on Positioning Theory

Now that you mention it, Mike, I'd say "collusion" is just a way of characterising collaboration in the case of there being something illegitimate about the object of the collaboration.

*Andy Blunden*

mike cole wrote:
Could you consider substituting the word collusion for the word collaboration,

On Sun, Mar 30, 2014 at 8:01 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    I don't think there is a particular need to go in search of
    theories here. Positioning theory, which I gather (?) is the study
    of how people are positioned by and for collaboration, taken
    together with Vygotsky's cultural psychology and the tradition of
    acivity theory, seems quite enough for me. :) Vygotsky gave us an
    approach to how concepts are formed, through the collaborative use
    of tools and symbols, and it seems to me, that self-concept is an
    important limiting case of concept formation. I tend to see every
    collabortion as the active instantiation of a concept of "what we
    are doing together," which necessarily includes a diversity of
    actions by different individuals, and "different points of view."

    *Andy Blunden*
    http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>

    Donna Kotsopoulos wrote:

        The idea of the positioning occurring before the collaboration
        has taken place is consistent with Gee's idea about one
        storyline infecting another - both at the group level and at
        the individual level. I believe that an individual can rewrite
        those storylines or make conscious choices to adopt a
        different version. I'm not fully familiar with this literature
        but I think the theory of mind research and "theory of self"
here would be a useful. Donna Kotsopoulos, Ph.D.
        Associate Professor
        Faculty of Education & Faculty of Science, Department of
        Wilfrid Laurier University
        75 University Avenue West, BA313K
        Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3C5
        (519) 884-0710 x 3953
        www.wlu.ca/mathbrains <http://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 3/29/2014 at 8:43 PM, in message
        <53376899.7060408@mira.net">mailto:53376899.7060408@mira.net>>, Andy Blunden
        <ablunden@mira.net <mailto: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
        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
        So positioning and collaboration are cultural products which
        their instantiation in any collaborative act.
        *Andy Blunden*
        http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>

        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
        > 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
        > (which is, by implication, not collaborative).
        > I take Andy's point to be that even traditional education is
        > - 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
        > 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 <mailto: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
        >> 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
        >> of the situation
        >> they are in and how this  situation emerges over time---so,
        >> 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
        >> 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
        >> 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
        >>> 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
        >>> 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
        >>> 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 <mailto: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
        >> 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
        >> 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
        >>>> 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 <http://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
        >> Any
        >>>> unauthorized distribution, copying or other use is
        strictly prohibited.
        >>>>>>> On 3/28/2014 at 9:54 AM, in message
        <53357F22.1070109@mira.net <53357F22.1070109@mira.net">mailto:53357F22.1070109@mira.net>>,
        >> Andy
        >>>> Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto: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/
        <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/> <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
        >>>> 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
        >>>>> 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
        >>>>> 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

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