[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: Can symbols help people learning to read?



David and all,
I love the metaphor for learning language: Get the dress to dance! I don’t remember my early learning of English, but I can’t think of a better image for my learning Spanish later on. It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. Fluency with a pulse, a beat. In context, dancing in the culture. “Immersion" prepared me the way to be a Vygotskian. I do not consider myself a reading specialist, but as I understand reading, it depends on rhythmic phrasing of the text for comprehension to take place. 

This thread started back on March 11 when Andy asked for help for a friend. Yrjo proffered an article by Amano, which I have attached. Here’s a quote early in the article:
"The idea of teaching phonological analysis of words to children at the beginning of literacy training originated historically with the phonologi­ cal method for reading established by the Russian educator K. D. Ushin- sky (1974) in the 19th century. For a long time, psychologists did not pay attention to his idea. It was A. R. Luria who first demonstrated the role of phonological analysis in writing in a psychological study. In 1948 he found that patients with lesions of the inferior part of the premotor zone had severe difficulty with phonological analysis of successions of words and could not spell words correctly. Based on this fact, he argued that phonological analysis of words is one of the necessary operations of writ­ing activity (Luria, 1950)."

So, the issue seems to be phonology in literacy. Luria was focused on writing, this thread on reading. There is a an even larger question: What is a symbol? Or what is symbolizing? I take it to be getting the dress to dance. This metaphor helps me to come to approach the question which defines the thread: Can symbols help people learning to read?

I don’t understand the question. Language, whatever its “outer form”, is symbolic. No sign (outer form), no language, spoken or written. Why would one say the little girl had the wrong dress? It’s because the dress IS important, essential. Its form, the outer side of the symbol. In a reading program this would be the writing system, whether alphabetic (English, Arabic), logographic (Chinese, Korean, at least part of them), or some combination (well, Chinese and Korean, especially for borrowings from other languages, right?) Okay, I am convinced that a teacher-proof, phonics-based literacy program can’t do justice to litracy. But my reading of a whole-language literacy program (a term coined, I believe in New Zealand or Australia) INCLUDES phonics, outer form of the symbol.

As I read and re-read David’s way of addressing the issue by telling a story with dialog: ‘"Arabic"she fairly bellowed.’, I see David agrees:
> "So, if Vygotsky is correct then there is simply no way to teach someone to
> read except by introducing symbols to non-readers, or rather by
> incorporating the local systems of natural signs (that is, icons and
> indexes) developed by non-readers into the system of conventional symbols
> and symbols-for-symbols which has developed by the culture of readers.
> That's why Vygotsky sees the line of development that passes from object
> play to drawing to writing as unbroken."

Or rather, I agree with David. And David agrees with Vygotsky. This consolidates for me a lot of issues, but most especially L2 learning and literacy, and touches on the thread on Maisha’s article and the opt-out thread as well. 

Henry



 



 

Regarding 
> On Apr 4, 2015, at 3:31 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> Yesterday as I was leaving the faculty apartments to go to my Saturday
> seminar, the door of the elevator opened and I was almost run over by a
> pretty little six year old Egyptian girl who lives upstairs. She was being
> taken to her Saturday madrasa class to learn to read and write, and she'd
> put on the wrong dress. I couldn't help thinking of almost the only Arabic
> I still remember, a snatch of poetry:
> 
> "Even the dress
> Which I had forgotten
> Happy to see him
> Had danced to the doorway!"
> 
> As we went back upstairs to get her dress, I asked her which was more
> difficult, Hanggeul (the Korean alphabet) or Arabic. She said Arabic was,
> so I asked her which was more difficult, the English alphabet or Arabic.
> "Arabic!" she fairly bellowed.
> 
> Now--how is this possible? My neighbors speak Arabic at home; it is their
> native language. The Arabic script, although it is not a designed script
> like Hanggeul, is far more rational than English. Korean was rationalized
> by Sejong the Great in the fifteenth century thanks to a highly centralized
> system of government which was determined to put written regulations within
> the grasp of the whole population; about a hundred years later, the great
> dispute between reformers like John Hart and traditionalists like Robert
> Mulcaster over English spelling was definitively and fatally resolved in
> favor of the latter, and English has been cursed with a system of spelling
> which, although learnable, is not really teachable.
> 
> I think the answer is that the Arabic a little girl has to learn at the
> madrasa is essentially Quranic, and it is, as Vygotsky would say, "given as
> something self-contained", something ready made, from the hands of the
> teacher; it doesn't develop from the spoken language that the child uses at
> home but instead appears as a semi-divine revelation. Every lesson,
> therefore, is essentially like the snatch of poetry I declaimed in the
> elevator (and in fact, that snatch of poetry is something I learned in a
> kind of madrasa in Tunis). There isn't any "prehistory" to this writing: it
> has no roots in object play, in drawing, or in grocery lists left on the
> refrigerator or irate notices left by the janitor by the elevator.
> 
> So, if Vygotsky is correct then there is simply no way to teach someone to
> read except by introducing symbols to non-readers, or rather by
> incorporating the local systems of natural signs (that is, icons and
> indexes) developed by non-readers into the system of conventional symbols
> and symbols-for-symbols which has developed by the culture of readers.
> That's why Vygotsky sees the line of development that passes from object
> play to drawing to writing as unbroken. I think that Maisha Winn's article
> describes more or less this process, although I also think the format of
> the article, a retrospective review of the author's own research, makes it
> almost impossible to trace the process genetically in actual readers.
> 
>  Isn't the creation of a writing system also the gradual process of
> incorporating the non-symbols (that is, icons and indexes which
> intrinsically  have more sense than meaning) into a system of conventional
> symbols (which, at least when they are given as self-contained and
> self-identical, from the hands of the teacher in the madrasa, have far more
> meaning than sense? Just suppose, for example, my little neighbor were
> learning Chinese...or, for that matter, ancient Egyptian. It is all a
> matter of getting the dress to dance.
> 
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> 
> 
> 
> On Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 7:40 PM, Avram Rips <arips@optonline.net> wrote:
> 
>> Possibly th JP Das Centre, a Lydia based program.
>> http://rrl.educ.ualberta.ca/publications
>> 
>> On March 11, 2015, at 1:59 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>> 
>> I am forwarding this message from a good friend who has a question about
>> literacy education.
>> If you know of research on this question, perhaps you could cc Mike B.
>> in your reply.
>> ***
>> My sister is in the education field and she is looking for theory and
>> research to refute an influential paper which claims introducing symbols
>> to non-readers actually hampers their ability to develop literacy
>> skills. The little I have read on AT and semiotics seems to at least
>> indicate that under certain conditions, symbols can aid literacy. But I
>> am looking for something specific and/or definite.
>> ***
>> Andy
>> --
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> *Andy Blunden*
>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>> 
>>