RE: development: loss, destruction, transformation

From: Geoff Hayward (
Date: Tue Mar 29 2005 - 14:13:47 PST

Dear Mary

Who do you mean by those who "got away"? Those who did not learn to read
or write or add in elementary school? If so I have worked with such
young people. Some of them are called young offenders - they have
burgled, stolen, committed acts of violence, raped, and in some case
murdered. Not learning to read is, of course, not part of the reason why
they did these things. But all of them, in my limited experience,
bitterly regretted not being able to read and write and wore this as a
badge of shame. Perhaps that is my construction (indeed from a
post-modern perspective it almost certainly is my construction). But
this basic action of reading and comprehending text, and even more
importantly producing text, was really important for these young people
(12-17). Given the chance they wanted to learn how to do it through
music, drama and digging ponds. Where I agree with you is that they
rejected being tamed ventriloquists and that is one of the reasons why
they, in the main (though this is a highly heterogeneous group of young
people) disengaged from schooling. But I am not sure whether your
critique is of learning to read, a very human activity, or of schooling
(too often a dehumanising activity)? Is learning to read not a
potentiation of breaking away, that which allowed you to construct your
identity in opposition to your culture's normative trajectory? Is this a
tool of tool a la Derrida?


Dr Geoff Hayward
Associate Director SKOPE
15 Norham Gardens
Phone: +44 (0)1865 274007
Fax: + 44 (0)1865 274027

-----Original Message-----
From: Mary Bryson []
Sent: 29 March 2005 18:40
Subject: Re: development: loss, destruction, transformation

On 3/28/05 3:30 PM, "Mike Cole" <> wrote:

> but if your kid did not learn to add or read, you might get unhappy.

OK, time for me to chime in here... I was a participant in a day-long
participatory conference <Beyond Postmodernism> some time ago <it was
actually a Postmodernism Bashing carnival> and the whole group was
discussing the enormous significance of a scientific model for
"learning to
read" <back to, postmodernism bashing> and so I instigated a "break
discursive intervention --
I suggested that the discussion on "learning" might more fruitfully <ha
intersect with some of the problematics of postmodernisms if instead of
"learning to read" we were to discuss "learning to be queer" and how
might be facilitated and nurtured in educational contexts.


Oh dear

Talk about the abject -- yes, well --- someone tried being nice and said
something like, "Don't you think it is partly genetic?" and then they
went back to talking about "learning to read".

Taking a genealogical approach to tracing the historical production of
"learning" there is so much that is pre-figured if the object of
analysis is
the repetition of an act where we assume consensus --- "learning to
--- an activity that, in school, surely, is one of the means for the
production of a subjugated and disciplined body --- a tame
ventriloquist. I
would argue that if the "break away" is what we want to understand then
would be very useful to study the "ones that got away" -- the contexts
practices that produce diss-identification with culture's normative

Nice to be back,


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