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[Xmca-l] Re: Interdisciplinarity and Transdisciplinarity

As Mike points out, there is a way of looking at history that considers it
as product, not process, and one way to look at an organ is as the product
of phylogenetic activity over millions of years, not as a piece of meat
that enables certain forms of activity in ontogenesis. (I think his analogy
between Skinner and Chomsky--as both trying to cut history out of the
picture by different means--is spot on: Skinner denies the linkedness of
phylogenesis and Chomsky the distinctness thereof, and both do so by
cutting the link of sociogenesis!)

But does this really get us back to what was so terribly wrong with the way
Varoufakis read Marx? (I leave aside, for the moment, the way in which he
and his party have agreed to share power with an extreme right wing
xenophobic party which wants to introduce Greek Orthodox religious training
in public schools!). Larry says that functions are not to be considered as
they are considered in biology, that is, as the forms of activity which are
enabled by specific organs. The way you look at things, as Varoufakis
teaches us by negative example, depends very much on what you propose to do
about them. I think that what Chaiklin proposes to do is to make it very
clear that there is a big difference between learning and development--he
recognizes, correctly, that the "Western interpretation" of the Zoped has
tended to disappear the distinction (this is Seve's criticism too), and he
wants to put that right by suggesting that the two are quite distinct in
Vygotsky. We are always running up against this distinction in applied ling
too--you can teach vocabulary, which specifies highly local areas of
meaning, but you have to let grammar develop.

And yet they are linked too, of course. Not just in the obvious way--there
is no vocabulary without grammar, and no grammar without vocabulary--they
are linked because any description of any stretch of language can begin at
the lexical end and proceed to generalize and abstract towards the
grammatical end or we can do the opposite: begin at the grammatical end
(with a statement, or a question, or a command) and analyze towards the
lexical end. The limits that we come up against (e.g. trying to describe
'a" or "the" as lexis, or trying to describe "by hook and by crook" as
grammar) reflect the kinds of discontinuities that Chaiklin was talking

So what am I proposing to do about it, and what is MY model for? I'm trying
to come up with a kind of "cladogram" of turning points in the growth and
differentiation of TESOL--points where quantitative growth becomes
qualitative. Caxton's use of the printing press in 1471 is undoubtedly one
of these. But the problem is that in addition to differentiation there are
moments of merging too--not only inter-disciplinary bridges, but actual
transdisciplinary subsumptions, as Annalisa indicates. It's not true that
ALL the methods that are differentiated in the course of TESOL persist;
some of them really die the death. And...those are the ones we keep
teaching our poor grads about (e.g. Suggestopedia, the Silent Method, and
Community Language Learning, to take some recent examples nobody has ever
heard of). Some methods are horse-shoe crabs and crocodiles, but a lot are
just mammoths and mastodons.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 25 February 2015 at 07:10, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu> wrote:

> Hello all,
> I would agree with you David Ki, but for Transdisciplinary, I'd say it is
> a discipline that doesn't quite fit anywhere because it bisects many
> different disciplines.
> For example, in the arts we have painting, sculpture, photography,
> printmaking, video, film, then there is multimedia which borrows from all
> the others, such as with conceptual art, which is attempting to use the
> other mediums for a particular purpose alongside the other mediums. I'd say
> this is analogous to cross-disciplinary.
> However performance art is all and neither of these mediums because
> performance art transcends the others as it uses the human body along with
> the environment and it is time-based and usually temporary. Consider Joseph
> Beuys, for example, using a dead hare and himself. So this would be
> analogous to transdisciplinary.
> I'd not call opera transdisciplinary, but multimedia, because it's more
> about the music, most of all, one can enjoy the opera without the stage or
> knowing who the performers are. The opera is recast and repurposed but it
> is always interpretive of the original score.
> I'd suggest a discipline whose purpose is to eliminate itself would be
> possibly transdisciplinary. Or disciplines that incorporate activism, to
> take the knowledge out into the streets, possibly, perhaps peace studies.
> Kind regards,
> Annalisa