Re: development: loss, destruction, transformation

From: Yrjö Engeström (
Date: Wed Mar 30 2005 - 02:19:26 PST

In my 'Learning by Expanding', I use the description of learning to
read provided by Aleksis Kivi in his classic novel
'Seven Borthers', written in the 1860s. My analysis of this process,
which exemplifies some aspects of development as
breaking away (the brothers literally break away from their reading
lesson) is available in the third chapter of 'Learning
by Expanding', in the section 'The Analysis of the Zone Extended: The
Case of Seven Brothers'. The web address is:



Geoff Hayward kirjoittaa keskiviikkona, 30. maaliskuuta 2005, kello

> 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?
> Geoff
> Dr Geoff Hayward
> Associate Director SKOPE
> 15 Norham Gardens
> Oxford
> OX2 6PY UK
> Phone: +44 (0)1865 274007
> Fax: + 44 (0)1865 274027
> e-mail:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mary Bryson []
> Sent: 29 March 2005 18:40
> To: XMCA
> 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
> away"
> discursive intervention --
> I suggested that the discussion on "learning" might more fruitfully <ha
> 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
> that
> might be facilitated and nurtured in educational contexts.
> Oops
> 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
> all
> 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
> read"
> --- 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
> it
> would be very useful to study the "ones that got away" -- the contexts
> and
> practices that produce diss-identification with culture's normative
> trajectory.
> Nice to be back,
> Mary

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