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[Xmca-l] Re: The Wreck of the Sewol



One of the by-products of Korea being on-line 24 hours a day is that
false information is extremely plentiful. Initially, for example, it
was reported that the ship had struck a rock, that all the teachers
had survived, and that many of the children, trapped in air pockets,
were texting their parents on shore.

None of this appears to be true.The accident appears to have been
caused by a sudden turn of the helm by the third mate, who had less
than one year of experience and was navigating a swift current at high
speed while the captain was snug in his bunk below. The current seems
to have seized the boat and spun it, causing the cargo to shift and
the boat to list to the point where it was taking in water over the
side. At that point, as any sailor knows, it is time to abandon ship.
But no order to abandon ship was ever given, and the boat went down
with its lifeboats and life rafts almost entirely unlaunched. Despite
this, all the crew but two appear to have survived (the purser and a
junior crew member stayed behind to help children, and are now
missing). About a third of the children were rescued. Only three out
of the fourteen teachers lived.

I think that knowledge is like anything else in a stratified society;
it is highly stratified, and those who make decisions are often
(almost always) least qualified to do so by virtue of their isolation
from the consequences, which means isolation from facts on the ground
and at the gunwale. For example, the captain's reason for not
abandoning ship was that the currents were very swift and he was
afraid the children would be swept away if they launched the life
rafts (true); he thought that the wreck would stabilize itself (as it
would have if they had struck a rock) and that the kids would be
better off near the floating wreck.

When something like the internet temporarily replaces that
stratification with atomization, this does not automatically place
vital information at the disposal of those who most urgently need it.
It is far more likely to give them misleading and murderous
information instead. For example, the texts from trapped children,
incredibly, appear to be the work of bored pranksters with too much
time and a "smart" phone on their hands; already one person has died
in the rush to rescue "trapped" children who probably don't exist.

I don't think that Vygotsky was anti-education or opposed to equal
access to educational artifacts; he would not have been against
knowing how to swim or opposed to distributing life jackets. I think
that Vygotsky's point was that neither a stratified
empiricist-inspired social-behaviorism that was then sweeping the
Soviet Union (and which is still sweeping Vygotskyan inspired
education in the West) nor an atomistic naturalistic attitude to
information will explain or help us to expand self-mastery, autonomy,
and free will. We must somehow figure out how to replace obedience
with judgment, and  astonishment with foresight. As Francine says,
it's a matter of creativity and imagination. But creativity and
imagination is a developmental problem, and there can be no solution
to it that suits every age.

During the great Sichuan earthquake a few years ago, my little niece
was in class. Her teacher rose to her feet and immediately rushed from
the building, and most of the children followed. When I talked to
Yang-yang about it, she thought the teacher did the right thing,
because the children would not have left if she had just given verbal
instructions; it was much better for her to demonstrate and call on
the kids to follow. I can see that with very little children what
Yang-yang says might be true (although of course the teacher has to go
back and get the ones that didn't follow). But with older children the
verbal instruction will have to suffice. By the time the children get
to middle school, no verbal instruction should be necessary, and high
school kids should be able to survive even the most misleading and
murderous of verbal instructions.

I think that's the sense in which what Paul says is true: by the time
you get to be Dr. Paul Macombe, it is, as Dr. Johnson said when he was
awarded a doctorate, like swimming ashore on your own and getting hit
in the head with a life preserver. But how do you get all the kids
safely ashore?

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies




On 21 April 2014 06:27, larry smolucha <lsmolucha@hotmail.com> wrote:
> Message from Francine,
>
>
> Yes, I can appreciate what you are saying Paul.
>
> I have a work in progress on cultural synergy (using Vygotskian concepts)
>
> that might be of interest to you (and others on XMCA). While your experience
>
> has immediate cultural tensions, I would argue that everyone has underlying cultural
>
> tensions. Most cultures have emerged as a synthesis of beliefs, tools, customs, of
>
> interacting cultures (often in oppressive conflict). But this can be the catalyst for
>
> creativity (even when originating in conflict). You are in the process of such on
>
> emergent cultural synthesis.
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Sent from Windows Mail
>
>
>
>
>
> From: Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
> Sent: ‎Sunday‎, ‎April‎ ‎20‎, ‎2014 ‎1‎:‎39‎ ‎PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>
>
>
>
>
> I question that myself Francine...should I use negative dialectic to convict bourgeois society for nonidentification... (Adorno)...or offer an alternative discourse as offered by the vodou ethic and the spirit of communism of my ancestors?   It is as though I am caught in a bhabhaian liminal space, which for me represents a bourgeois activity of a discriminated against other...similar to Du Bois' s notion of double consciousness.  I have reverted to questioning all of my education precisely bcuz I have an alternative consciousness which rejects the majority of the foolishness, subject/object distinction, idealism/materialism, etc., of bourgeois society.
>
>
> Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
> President
> The Mocombeian Foundation, Inc.
> www.mocombeian.com
> www.readingroomcurriculum.com
> www.paulcmocombe.info
>
> <div>-------- Original message --------</div><div>From: larry smolucha <lsmolucha@hotmail.com> </div><div>Date:04/20/2014  1:56 PM  (GMT-05:00) </div><div>To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu> </div><div>Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Wreck of the Sewol </div><div>
> </div>Message from Francine:
>
>
> Paul,
>
>
> If education and getting ‘enframed’ by bourgeois logic “threatens all life on earth”,
>
> why do you never-the-less use bourgeois titles like Dr., President, and Foundation, Inc. ?
>
>
>
> Just asking.
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Sent from Windows Mail
>
>
>
>
>
> From: Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
> Sent: ‎Sunday‎, ‎April‎ ‎20‎, ‎2014 ‎7‎:‎17‎ ‎AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>
>
>
>
>
> Thank you david...well said.  Many people should read althusser more...especially minorities, embourgeoised blacks and women, who have adopted this viewpoint that education and getting one "enframed" by bourgeois logic is the key to equality of opportunity, recognition, and distribution....it is an ideological apparatus, intended to recursively reorganize and reproduce a perverse ethos that threatens all life on earth!
>
>
> Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
> President
> The Mocombeian Foundation, Inc.
> www.mocombeian.com
> www.readingroomcurriculum.com
> www.paulcmocombe.info
>
> Race and Class Distinctions within Black Communities
> www.routledge.com/9780415714372
>
> -------- Original message --------
> From: David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> Date:04/19/2014  6:00 PM  (GMT-05:00)
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> Subject: [Xmca-l]  The Wreck of the Sewol
>
> For three days, every newscaster in South Korea has worn black. The
> nightly news consists of two hours of stories about the capsizing of
> the ferry Sewol, with hundreds of high school students on their last
> high school field trip, off of Jindo Island near Jeju.
>
> It's not like watching CNN when there is some heart-breaking story but
> no news, and you get these callous talking heads hemming and hawing
> for hours on end. No; here, when hearts break, you see see and hear it
> on the evening news: teachers howling with grief, mothers prostrate
> with emotion, and furious fathers attacking government officials,
> reporters, and even surviving teachers.
>
> Yesterday the assistant principal, who had survived the wreck and done
> his best to save his students, tried to apologize to parents for
> permitting the trip. They did not accept his apology, and he left the
> building, walked into the woods, and hanged himself.
>
> The captain is in custody. Nobody is sure what caused the wreck, but
> he was one of the first to leave, and there is a lot of talk about
> prosecuting him under a quaint maritime law, probably inspired by a
> poor reading of Conrad's Lord Jim, that does not allow the captain to
> leave the ship while there are still people who need assistance.
>
> There is a much more severe crime to consider though. Shortly after
> impact, when the ship was already listing nearly 45 degrees and
> talking in water over the side, the captain told the children to
> remain where they were below decks and await instructions. Then the
> intercom died and the lights went out. And we have cell phone
> recordings of the children waiting patiently in the dark as the ship
> sank.
>
> Why did they wait? Why didn't more of these high school students,
> eleventh graders who were sixteen and seventeen years old, of school
> leaving age, declare the broadcast null and void and begin to lead
> their classes to the high side of the capsized ship, where they could
> slide down the inclined plane of the boat into the water and be
> rescued by the arriving fishing boats?
>
> I don't know the answer to that. But yesterday we were discussing this
> in our weekly seminar on Vygotsky--we're translating Vygotsky's last
> lectures to the Herzen Pedogogical Institute, only three months before
> he died. Pedology has already been declared a bourgeois creed, and
> Vygotsky knows that his students are learning a subject which will
> soon cease to exist from a professor who is likewise about to join the
> faculty invisible.
>
> Vygotsky deftly presents the prevailing view of education, one that
> will be immediately familiar to every progressive teacher today.
> Children are born equal, but they are everywhere made radically
> unequal by social conditions. By providing children equal
> opportunities and equal access to mediating artifacts, we can ensure
> not only egalitarian development but a more equitable society.
>
> Vygotsky remarks mischievously that this view is bourgeois (pedology
> is under attack as a bourgeois doctrine), and of course he is quite
> right: it is the empiricist view of John Locke, of Thorndike, and of
> Watson. He notes that it can't account for the profoundly internal
> nature of development, that it deprives children of their initiative
> and their active role in development, and that it doesn't explain how
> completely new things, things the child has never heard before, arise
> in speech.
>
> I think there is something even more immediate and pressing that the
> bourgeois view can't account for either: the child's ability to throw
> off the social environment when that social environment has become
> murderous and only the child's own judgment can lead to safety. And
> the problem is that it accounts for the child's inability to do this
> rather too well.
>
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies