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[Xmca-l] Re: Time for a Generational Change



Hi, everyone -

It took me a couple of days to contribute to this thread. I have three things to say.

First, I guess I should acknowledge that a lot of time has passed and many of us are older. I joined this list about 20 years ago, as part of a class assignment given by Glynda Hull at the UC Berkeley School of Education. Ever since then, truth be told, it has been my primary source for intellectual stimulation about learning, education, teaching, and society. I am not exaggerating. It has been my post-graduate university.

That having been said, the reason why is has been so central to me is probably because, compared to other professional associations like AERA, it has a substrate of at least international if not leftist politics. Since my main interest is not in school learning but workplace learning, the study of which requires paying attention to the social relations in which learning takes place (not teacher-class-learner relations, but employer-worker-representation relations), I can’t get very far in a discourse environment which takes for granted that those social relations are benign and created for the purpose of producing learning. So I need the discourse of XMCA, where work is at least sometimes the context in which learning is understood to take place. (The leftist aspect of this is when we start talking about learning that is not primarily intended to make workers more cooperative or productive. That’s “training.") 

So XMCA has played an enormous role in my professional life. Thank you, Mike. 

Second, when I think about what I would really miss if XMCA faded or changed unintentionally, it’s that the people who are on it are real people and they are all over the world. There must be untold numbers of backchannel conversations that have produced experiences such as I have had, many of which I haven’t reported back to the list. When my husband and I went to Peru to talk with telephone workers, Paul Dillon (may he rest in peace) stayed up late with us in Lima debating the elements of an activity system, drawing those famous triangles. When we went to Viet Nam I sent out an email to the list asking for help in making an argument for home language education in places that were trying to become English-only, and not only got a small avalanche of helpful responses, I met Hans Lambrecht from Belgium and his wife — a lurker, but present nonetheless. We have made and met in person many friends in Canada through this list. I was able to talk with Jean Lave because of this list. We have gone to Colin Barker’s wonderful Social Movements conference in Manchester — twice, and read his sharp, dense papers on Academia. People I hope to meet in person some day in include Haydi in Iran and Andy Blunden in Australia. There are people all over the world on this list — not necessarily contributing to the message flow, but reading, listening, and willing to meet in person to continue an already well-tended crop (I’m deliberately not saying “garden”) of ideas. So when I think of XMCA it’s a lot more than just the words on the screen — it’s real people out there with whom one has already begun a conversation.

Third, with reference to Mike’s comment about not having a cumulative discussion that goes somewhere or adds up to something. Well, the river doesn’t accumulate. Instead, people go to it and take water out in buckets. Sorry about the metaphor: what I mean is that if you made a list of all the written material that has come about because of connections made on this list (like Andy’s book on collaborative projects, or Robert Lake’s book, or Stephen Billet’s book on apprenticeship — these are the ones I know about because of having been involved in them), you would have quite a pile of accumulated works. This is to say nothing about the conferences, articles, journals that connect tangentially (like Peter Smagorinsky’s literacy journal) and research proposals that draw from the resource of XMCA. I think things like this are where the accumulation is found. On the list, people move from thread to thread in a graciously unregulated way (thanks to Mike’s gentle oversight) and invisibly, projects spin off from there in private backchannel emails, and get worked on and finished. Some of them will mention XMCA in their acknowledgements, many won’t; it’s too much of background, taken for granted.

And all of this has been happening while the technology has been spinning ahead. When I say “I belong to an email discussion list,” people in the next two generations down from me look at me as if I’m nuts. Someone else will have to deal with that.

As far as the lack of women’s voices goes, I can’t comment other than that it seems to me that when there were more women contributing, the discussion had more current political content, which was a good thing because cultural psychology is supposed to be able to handle things like that, right? For example, police killings. If it can’t, that’s a problem. Maybe women are more ready to address the list with questions and problems that are not yet solved, trusting to the list to respond with a view from a place sufficiently far away to light up something invisible up close. But to the extent that the list is US-centric, and very male, it seems to be slow to talk politics.

I actually cried some real tears when I read Mike’s message signing off. I had not really grasped how much a part of my intellectual and social world this list has been, until now. 

One day at a time —

Helena

Helena Worthen
Professor Emerita University of Illinois School of Labor and Employment Relations 
21 San Mateo Road, Berkeley, CA 94707
Viet Nam blog: helenaworthen.wordpress.com





> On Oct 26, 2016, at 6:29 PM, lpscholar2@gmail.com wrote:
> 
> Phillip, Mike,
> Yes, i was using archaic language turning back to Greece.
> Yes also to Phillip that this turn may not be a good model for the reasons he offered.
> My intent was to traverse time to recognize the themes are playing out historically and draw attention to the *middle voice* (which may also have an archaic aspect).
> 
> Yes, back then MAN was used and therefore may be challenged as a mode that is no longer appropriate.
> 
> The sensitive responses of the next posts do seem to have opened up this very complex topic. When traversing the move backwards caution is required.
> The *middle voice* was what i was featuring.
> 
> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
> 
> From: mike cole
> Sent: October 26, 2016 4:33 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Time for a Generational Change
> 
> Larry- I, too, reacted to the MEN in your note. I attributed it to what I
> took to be your cutting and pasting from a google search using archaic
> sources/langauage translated his note for myself in the following terms
> using italics (you were seeking to characterize my mode of interacting):
> 
> To dialegesthai is to engage in the sort of conversation that is courteous,
> serious, and concerned with the truth. When *participants in a conversation*
> are thus seriously conversing, each trying to learn from the other, they
> are sorting things out for themselves; and roughly the only way in which
> *participants* can sort things for *themselves *is to expose *their *ideas
> in this way to another’s criticism. Thus the colloquial meaning of
> dialegesthai; namely *to converse as one should* can be seen to be
> equivalent to the meaning which etymology might lead us to put upon the
> *middle voice of dialegein*, namely to sort for oneself.
> 
> 
> Trying to figure things out is certainly what I strive to try to do in this
> conversation, so that made sense.
> 
> 
> The intertwining of content and style, as I have written previously, was
> more than I could ever deal with.
> 
> 
> mike
> 
> On Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 2:32 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
> wrote:
> 
>> Phillip, Jay, all,
>> 
>> Although I (as I am sure you too) appreciate Larry's post and quotation
>> for what he intended the to do, I agree with Phillip's comment that the two
>> issues, gender unbalance and chaining, are inherently connected. And, as in
>> Larry's post, this connection may pass unnoticed by even the most well
>> intentioned. One example of how tightly the two (unbalance and chaining,
>> turn-taking I'd like to call it) are related may be found in our very
>> recent discussion on Zaza's paper, where gendered issues were explicitly
>> discussed. When we realise that a discussion is involving prototyping a
>> prosthetic device for HIV-positive mother's breastfeeding in Zimbabwe, and
>> only one woman (apart from author) engages in the discussion, we may have
>> grounds to think that the problem is not about the topic, but about the
>> chaining, the way the turns at a conversation are interlaced with each
>> other, who takes a turn and how the turn opens or closes opportunities for
>> others to partake in the conversation. And again, the topic itself maybe
>> the issue, because, as Zaza's article very well shows (remember, e.g., the
>> male's defensive comments on sexual harassment), talk about breastfeeding
>> may be of very different topics depending on whether it is 6 males, 6
>> women, or a blend thereof who are discussing it.
>> 
>> Thanks Jay for sharing the history with us, a history the newbies like me
>> have not lived but may learn from. That history, together with the issues
>> that the prior posts are outlining, suggests that the issue may not be so
>> much about men and women per sé, as it may be about the exercise of an
>> exclusivist academic genre that has historically been dominated by males,
>> and which therefore privileges the voice of experienced males even when
>> their last intention was to prevent women from participating. If so, we
>> face a serious challenge, because it means that academic genre itself is
>> the problem, but also the means we have for advancing our endeavour, the
>> one xmca and mca are born for. Obviously, the challenge is not to be solved
>> just here, in xmca, but everywhere else, and I believe there are many
>> lines/fronts where it is being solved, though possibly much slower than it
>> should. These are not news, but I think is good to articulate them again.
>> 
>> In any case, and in line with some conversations about crisis going on in
>> parallel to this one (the thread on micro genesis), for us to move forward
>> our developmental path, there may have to be crisis, a phase in which, as
>> David  K. posses it, "the means of development turns back upon itself and
>> itself undergoes development." Perhaps we have to face the contradiction of
>> having to grow with and from a genre that has grown within a male dominated
>> world to create a world of joint participation, not domination. For my
>> part, I see two immediate things to do: always leave space between turns to
>> make sure everyone (in principle) has the chance to participate; and always
>> be self-aware of privilege, and open to be made aware by others. I am sure
>> many more things may be added to this list, or may be said better. I hope
>> people will help adding and/or improving it.
>> 
>> Alfredo
>> ________________________________________
>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>> on behalf of Jay Lemke <lemke.jay@gmail.com>
>> Sent: 26 October 2016 22:51
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Time for a Generational Change
>> 
>> At the risk of re-opening old wounds, I'll recall for the group and
>> especially the more recent participants that long ago there was a rather
>> explicit (and in some ways brutally uncomfortable) airing of the issues
>> around gender imbalance. At the time quite a few women members left the
>> listgroup (and for a time created one of their own).
>> 
>> My memory of the outcome of the soul-searching at the time is that many
>> male frequent contributors found themselves confounded (and for some in
>> serious denial) of the perception by women (and many lurkers) that the
>> dominant "core" was intimidating in tone or style of response, oblivious to
>> their privilege as either more senior academics or just as men, and
>> particularly of their totally unconscious sense of their right to hog the
>> stage, as it were. Some of the women saw this as a failure to recognize
>> gender privilege and deal with it. Many of the lurkers (male and female)
>> felt that the heavy presence of a very few (almost all male) voices on the
>> list was in itself off-putting to others, regardless of gender. A few
>> voices were also raised saying that the native English-speakers were
>> oblivious to our privilege and insufficiently sensitive to the positioning
>> of others (ditto to some extent for those from outside N. America).
>> 
>> Mike himself was largely exempted from these critiques explicitly, but
>> implicitly I think he felt some responsibility for not having paid more
>> attention to these problems before they found their critical moment.
>> 
>> Most of the core contributors, as I recall, were rather defensive in their
>> responses. I tried to be a mediating voice, and Mike asked, with his usual
>> practical good sense, what we could actually do to fix things. Many of the
>> women just left. For a time there were posts in Spanish, Portuguese, and
>> occasionally other languages. Posters made explicit reference to
>> differences in viewpoint due to national cultures or experiences.
>> 
>> But with very few women posting, and as I recall those were then mainly the
>> younger women and female grad students, no solution was found regarding the
>> gender imbalance. (Note that by imbalance I think people then meant not
>> mainly imbalance in membership, but in postings, and particularly in the
>> extent to which postings by women were taken up by others and became longer
>> threads. This "uptake effect" was something a lot of people paid attention
>> to -- and not just regarding gender, and one of the active women members
>> even did a quantitative study of it at the time.)
>> 
>> Others may remember things differently, and their recollections would be
>> most welcome. Maybe in a separate thread?
>> 
>> JAY.
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> Jay Lemke
>> Professor Emeritus
>> City University of New York
>> www.jaylemke.com
>> 
>> 
>> On Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 1:08 PM, White, Phillip <
>> Phillip.White@ucdenver.edu>
>> wrote:
>> 
>>> Larry, you reiterated Mike's pointing out two concerns;
>>> 
>>> 
>>> As we talk about generational transformation i hear legacy. I hear your
>>> question of gender imbalance and the mere chaining as the questions for
>> our
>>> time.
>>> 
>>> 
>>> and you discussed them as two separate issues - "gender imbalance", and
>>> "chaining", and then you illuminated chaining as -
>>> 
>>> 
>>> Xenophan tells us (Memorabilia IV, 5,12) that Socrates connected
>> dialectic
>>> with dialegein in the active voice; he said that the dialektikos or
>>> dialectician is the man who can sort good from bad and that dialectic is
>>> the practice of sorting things into their kinds by taking counsel with
>> each
>>> other. The theory which Xenophan imputes to Socrates would be roughly
>> along
>>> these lines. To dialegesthai is to engage in the sort of conversation
>> that
>>> is courteous, serious, and concerned with the truth. When men are thus
>>> seriously conversing, each trying to learn from the other, they are
>> sorting
>>> things out for themselves; and roughly the only way in which a man can
>> sort
>>> things for himself is to expose his ideas in this way to another’s
>>> criticism.
>>> 
>>> first, I'm surprised that you didn't note sic, in the quote, "When men
>>> (sic) are thus seriously conversing ...". but, second, I'd like to point
>>> out that this genre of mansplaining is most often hierarchically
>>> structured, so that male dominance is maintained.  if you look back at
>> the
>>> great majority of chaining in xmca, you'll see that it is dominated by
>> two
>>> or three males voices. and rather than, as you explain, and roughly the
>>> only way in which a man can sort things for himself is to expose his
>> ideas
>>> in this way to another’s criticism., i suggest that it is a culturally
>> male
>>> privileged genre, as Foucault would put it, of maintaining power,
>> privilege
>>> and prerogative.
>>> 
>>> 
>>> if the majority of the male participants of xmca are actively concerned
>>> along with Mike regarding the gender imbalance in participation, then i
>>> think that there needs to be a recognition that the current chaining
>>> practice is not separate, but part of the ecology of gender imbalance.
>>> 
>>> 
>>> phillip
>>> 
>>> ________________________________
>>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>>> on behalf of lpscholar2@gmail.com <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
>>> Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2016 10:28:51 AM
>>> To: Jay Lemke; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Time for a Generational Change
>>> 
>>> Mike,
>>> My testament to the profund*ity of what you have meant to my journey or
>>> quest through living the questions.
>>> 
>>> As we talk about generational transformation i hear legacy. I hear your
>>> question of gender imbalance and the mere chaining as the questions for
>> our
>>> time.
>>> The question of gender brings up Franklin’s classroom where the girls
>> know
>>> we can invite one boy to play. Possibly two boys who are carefully chosen
>>> and compatible. However, the girls know that when 3 boys come to play
>> they
>>> form a *clique* of superheros.
>>> Seems a relevant place to start our exploration of why the gender
>>> imbalance.
>>> 
>>> The 2nd question of chaining.
>>> You invited Greg to turn back to the historical genesis of the founding
>>> and development of our community.
>>> 
>>> Today i will move further back and play with word meaning as a way to
>>> express my testament and gratitude.
>>> I will turn back to Xenophan and the word *dialegein*.
>>> I googled this word to find its meaning and heard a way of expressing my
>>> personal gratitude to you and also honouring your legacy in the back and
>>> forth.
>>> 
>>> Here is what caught my ear.
>>> 
>>> Xenophan tells us (Memorabilia IV, 5,12) that Socrates connected
>> dialectic
>>> with dialegein in the active voice; he said that the dialektikos or
>>> dialectician is the man who can sort good from bad and that dialectic is
>>> the practice of sorting things into their kinds by taking counsel with
>> each
>>> other. The theory which Xenophan imputes to Socrates would be roughly
>> along
>>> these lines. To dialegesthai is to engage in the sort of conversation
>> that
>>> is courteous, serious, and concerned with the truth. When men are thus
>>> seriously conversing, each trying to learn from the other, they are
>> sorting
>>> things out for themselves; and roughly the only way in which a man can
>> sort
>>> things for himself is to expose his ideas in this way to another’s
>>> criticism. Thus the colloquial meaning of dialegesthai; namely *to
>> converse
>>> as one should* can be seen to be equivalent to the meaning which
>> etymology
>>> might lead us to put upon the *middle voice of dialegein*, namely to sort
>>> for oneself.
>>> 
>>> Mike, as i read this word meaning i was turned to the testimony’s now
>>> being expressed as we reflect on generational transformation AND ongoing
>>> legacy AND the living questions you posed.
>>> 
>>> I want to honour your *middle voice* as my contribution to the
>>> intertwining.
>>> My identity would be other than it is without your voice of conscience
>> and
>>> conscientiousness that nurtures us in sorting out ways of
>>> well-being-in-the-world-with-each-other.
>>> In short nurturing and cultivating *well-being*.
>>> Thank you
>>> 
>>> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
>>> 
>>> From: Jay Lemke
>>> Sent: October 25, 2016 4:45 PM
>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Time for a Generational Change
>>> 
>>> Just a note to say how moving and beautiful these notes of appreciation
>> for
>>> Mike's commitment to the community (in many senses) have been. Speaking
>> as
>>> one of the old-timers, I think all of us echo every word of the most
>>> beautiful of them, which speak for all of us.
>>> 
>>> To the younger generation who wonder how we managed in decades past to
>> talk
>>> with each other and not past each other, despite a very great diversity
>> of
>>> intellectual and cultural backgrounds, I can only say that we were eager
>> to
>>> hear different views, other ideas. We were not looking to build a grand
>>> unified consensus. Each of us had our theory-building projects (or many
>> of
>>> us did) and our research experiences, and what we wanted was to hear what
>>> others were thinking.
>>> 
>>> The history of this community has not been like that of specialist
>>> scientific communities that seek to build on each other's work. It has
>>> rather been a true multi-disciplinary community where the greatest gifts
>> we
>>> have given each other have been ideas we had never thought of, or
>>> viewpoints leading to conclusions similar to our own, but starting from
>>> entirely different premises.
>>> 
>>> Many of us joined to hear more about the CHAT/Vygotskyan approach. But we
>>> stayed because we also heard so much more. And for me the greatest of
>>> Mike's contributions was that he made everyone feel welcome, helping to
>>> make sure that all these different voices could be heard. To the lasting
>>> benefit of us all.
>>> 
>>> JAY.
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> Jay Lemke
>>> Professor Emeritus
>>> City University of New York
>>> www.jaylemke.com<http://www.jaylemke.com>
>>> 
>>> 
>>> On Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 2:00 PM, HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> 
>>>> Esteemed Mike,
>>>> I add my little voice to the accolades and appreciation expressed by
>> the
>>>> other members of the XMCA chatline. Thank you so much for nourishing
>> the
>>>> dialog, which I have found to be so thought-provoking. It has often
>>>> challenged my simplistic notions of what Vygotsky and many others bring
>>> to
>>>> bear in taking on this complex and complicated world.
>>>> With great respect
>>>> Henry
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>>> On Oct 25, 2016, at 1:36 PM, Wendy Maples <wendy.maples@outlook.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> 
>>>>> Dear Mike,
>>>>> 
>>>>> As a frequent lurker, I am very grateful for the chance to see and
>>> think
>>>> about some terrifically interesting topics explored by some
>> terrifically
>>>> interesting people. Thank you for making it happen, and keeping it
>> going.
>>>>> 
>>>>> With gratitude and very best wishes,
>>>>> 
>>>>> Wendy
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> ________________________________
>>>>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.
>> edu
>>>> 
>>>> on behalf of Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
>>>>> Sent: 25 October 2016 04:41
>>>>> To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Time for a Generational Change
>>>>> 
>>>>> Mike, all,
>>>>> 
>>>>> thanks for your beautiful e-mail, Mike. It has only been a couple of
>>>> years, but I have witnessed how much effort and dedication you have
>>>> invested and continue investing in creating and sustaining a community
>>> like
>>>> xmca. For a youngster fellow like me, coming for the first time to
>> write
>>> in
>>>> a forum where you know some of the most influential authors in the chat
>>>> literature are there, either actively participating or just lurking
>> from
>>>> time to time, really freezes you before the keyboard. That's what I
>> first
>>>> felt until, the first e-mail went out. Since then, I have always felt
>>>> welcome to write more, and every time have been place in a place from
>>> which
>>>> I could think better and more. And so rather than frozen and stiff, my
>>>> hands, and with them my thinking, have become a little more flexible,
>>> and a
>>>> little more confident too. Thanks xmca for that, for giving me(us) the
>>>> trust to contribute, and in so doing giving me(us) the opportunity to
>>>> become part of a thinking that could have never been just my own. In
>> the
>>>> little time I have spent here, and as anyone can hear in the the words
>> of
>>>> those who have been here for much longer, it has become clear how
>>> important
>>>> your role, Mike, and that of the community of xmca'ers that so much
>>> respect
>>>> you, has been in precisely that: giving us trust to speak, which in a
>>> very
>>>> important sense is giving us freedom.
>>>>> 
>>>>> Thanks also for having me in, and for the welcoming words of the
>>> others.
>>>> For a newbie that came in touch with xmca just a couple of years ago,
>> it
>>>> feels pretty scary to be presented as taking some "pastoral" role, but
>> of
>>>> course every one here knows that there is nothing like a flock to be
>>>> pastored (perhaps a herd of cats, as Jay suggested, is best). Mike has
>>>> presented me as taking the role as "mediator," and that is a convenient
>>>> term we came up with together. Yet, I should quote here F. T. Mikhailov
>>>> (thanks Michael for introducing me to this!), for whom it was clear
>> that
>>>> "the soul knows no mediators." Just in the same sense, I do not think I
>>>> will mediate much, if mediating is heard to mean standing between xmca
>>> and
>>>> anyone else (its members). If anything, I will only be able to partake
>> in
>>>> xmca as a member who, as many others already do, cares for and learns
>>> from
>>>> the whole she forms part of. I am very excited about continue growing
>>> with
>>>> xmca, and I hope I will be able to help in moving forward in the very
>>>> honourable tasks that Mike has invited us taking. It seems to me that
>>> xmca
>>>> has through the years grown into all what is needed to continue
>> growing.
>>>> Thanks,
>>>>> 
>>>>> Alfredo
>>>>> ________________________________________
>>>>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.
>> edu
>>>> 
>>>> on behalf of Chuck Bazerman <bazerman@education.ucsb.edu>
>>>>> Sent: 24 October 2016 23:18
>>>>> To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Time for a Generational Change
>>>>> 
>>>>> Mike,  As a mostly lurker with occasional outburst, I want to say how
>>>>> much I have appreciated all you have done to foster interesting
>>> thoughts
>>>>> and to put interesting people in contact.  Now I hope you too will
>> have
>>>>> the leisure and pleasure of lurking.
>>>>> Best,
>>>>> Chuck
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>> 
>