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[Xmca-l] Re: The ideal head

But my point is that the "fictional" idea has power -- enough power to make people think that if a kid tries, and tries, and tries, they can overcome the lack of special resources that are symbolized by "English nobility," or, in the real world, a rich cultural environment in childhood, good food, safe place to sleep, attentive educated parents, nice schools, etc etc...

Sometimes the "people" who believe that trying hard is enough are the parents. Sometimes they are the overseers of the school systems, who ought to know better.

Helena Worthen

On Jul 24, 2014, at 1:34 PM, Carol Macdonald wrote:

> Peter
> Or perhaps that the writer of The Tarzan stories had no idea about what it
> takes to become literate.  He had no-one to show him the arbitrariness of
> language and reading.
> If you remember, the primers for reading had multisyllable words in them.
> Peter is right - only in fiction is this possible.
> And trying harder isn't necessarily the way to move forward. Trying
> something *else *might do it.  Tell that mum.
> Carol
> On 24 July 2014 17:53, Peter Smagorinsky <smago@uga.edu> wrote:
>> I'd say that working harder worked for Tarzan because he was fictional.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
>> xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Helena Worthen
>> Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:40 PM
>> To: lchcmike@gmail.com; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The ideal head
>> These views are persuasively bound up in the story of Tarzan, an
>> incredibly popular book published in 1913 and still being sold. Tarzan,
>> abandoned in infancy in the African jungle, comes upon his dead parents'
>> cabin and their library and, without ever hearing human speech much less
>> English spoken, manages to teach himself to read. Why? Well, 1) he tries
>> hard and 2) he's English nobility. The generations of kids and their
>> parents who read the Tarzan story (or see the movies) never question this
>> train wreck of ideas -- on the contrary, it provides support for the idea
>> that learning is the result of trying hard and being born smart (except
>> that that's a code word for upper class).
>> I had a heart-wrenching experience the other day that illustrates how this
>> works in real life. We're spending the summer in a small town in Vermont --
>> working class, very dependent on big ski area tourism. A friend of mine, a
>> working class woman, is paying big bucks to send her 12 year old daughter
>> to an academic summer camp at a very high-level hotshot prep school nearby.
>> The hope is that, with this extra boost, the girl will be able to speed
>> past the pitfalls of the local high school (which has a 30% dropout rate,
>> drug problems, etc.). The other students at the summer camp are prep school
>> kids repeating classes they didnt' ace plus rich kids from all over the
>> world, especially Asia. My friend's daughter did fine the first week, then
>> seemed to just freeze. Now daughter wants to quit and is refusing to eat,
>> etc. Her mom's idea is that the girl just needs to try harder, try harder,
>> try harder.Mother has moved down there and is starting to attend classes
>> with her.  Mother and daughter are about ready to hit each other.
>> My opinion: trying harder worked for Tarzan because he was English
>> nobility, and someone forgot to make sure my friend and her daughter were
>> English nobility (meaning, someone forgot to prepare her daughter with all
>> the class advantages, including self confidence, that the other kids
>> brought with them, along with their iPhones and designer swimsuits).
>> Where do you start, in a situation like this?
>> Helena Worthen
>> helenaworthen@gmail.com
>> On Jul 19, 2014, at 6:38 PM, mike cole wrote:
>>> Hi Peter. I had a similar experience regarding the accidental
>>> discovery of literature containing those colonialist-era books. My
>>> example was written for high level scholars over a century ago, but
>>> it, like this piece, expresses views that have not by any means
>>> disappeared in the intervening century.
>>> Nor has the resulting violence seemed to have eased.
>>> Attached.
>>> mike
>>> On Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 12:03 PM, Peter Smagorinsky <smago@uga.edu>
>> wrote:
>>>> http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/07/the-ideal-head-b
>>>> izarre-racial-teachings-from-a-100-year-old-textbook/374693/#comments
>>>> I wrote this very short essay that some might find interesting, and
>>>> have linked to the page that includes reader comments, which are
>>>> prolific and edifying for those who believe in the progress of human
>>>> thinking. p
>>> <Drummond- Ascent O fMan.doc>
> -- 
> Carol A  Macdonald Ph D (Edin)
> Developmental psycholinguist
> Academic, Researcher,  and Editor
> Honorary Research Fellow: Department of Linguistics, Unisa