Re: development: loss, destruction, transformation

From: David H Kirshner (
Date: Wed Mar 30 2005 - 11:36:42 PST

Dorie, I like the idea of birds participating in discourse communities. It
puts the ticklish questions of agency in a good light. Continuing the
extension into Gee's corpus of writing, he has a 2001 piece in RRE that
identifies 4 kinds of identity--nature, institution, discourse, and
affinity--that vary in the degree of volitional participation presumed for
the agent. But the notion of birds "breaking away" has too much of
projected human psychology in it for my taste. In a peculiarly human way,
we tend to keep our young with us far into the maturation cycle. Put us out
there in the big wide world earlier, and we'd probably be as receptive to
dialect variations as the young bird is.

Gee, J. P. (2001). Identity as an analytic lens for research in education.
      In W. G. Secada (Ed.), Review of Research in Education, 25 (pp.
      3-56). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.
      [identity = kind of person one is recognized as being]

                      Dorie Evensen
                      <> To:
                                               cc: (bcc: David H Kirshner/dkirsh/LSU)
                      03/30/2005 12:47 Subject: Re: development: loss, destruction,
                      PM transformation
                      Please respond to

David - Interesting that you mention Gee - as I read the early postings on
breaking away concept, I thought of his 1996 book that contains an article
asking What is literacy? and linking that to a necessarily preliminary
question of What is discourse? or better, What are discourses? since he
argues that there are many beyond the primary (the one that you're born
into). Our young bird acquired that primary discourse, but never really
mastered it - however, he did master the discourse of the target community
with which he desired (I use the term loosely) membership. At any rate,
Gee's idea of engaging with secondary discourses, and the degrees to which
certain types of acquisitions/masteries develop might be comparable to the
notion of breaking away.

At 09:51 AM 3/30/2005, you wrote:

      Jim Gee (1992) has an interesting section on birding communities.

       Gee, J. P. (1992). The social mind: Language, ideology, and social
      practice. New York: Bergin & Garvey.

      Yrjö Engeström <>
      03/30/2005 11:55 AM ZE2
      Please respond to xmca

      bcc: David H Kirshner/dkirsh/LSU
      Subject: Re: development: loss, destruction, transformation

      Dear Dorie, that is an interesting example. Coincidence: I am
      a new project on 'wildfire activities' among humans. One central case
      will be birding. The is something in the object (birds) that is all
      impossible to contain by commercial forces. I call such objects
      'runaway objects'.


      Dorie Evensen kirjoittaa keskiviikkona, 30. maaliskuuta 2005, kello

> While waiting for Yrjo's reply I wonder if this is relevant. I just
> heard a tidbit of Terry Gross' Fresh Air on NPR. She was talking to
> people who study the songs of birds (wrens, I think it was) -
> one spoke about studying birds in their natural environment to find
> their travels (break aways?) affected their songs. The very young
> bird did something like a wild imitation of the father's
> mothers don't sing) highly stylized song - but when the young
> flew the home coup (usually traveling about a mile), his song took
> the characteristics (and the refinements) of the birds in his
> neighborhood - after all, that was the territory he was wanting to
> make his mark in. His learning was definitely outside-in and
> definitely breaking away from what he was raised on (purposeful? -
> I'm pushing it here).
> Dorie Evensen
> At 04:37 PM 3/29/2005, you wrote:
>> Nice to have you back, Mary.
>> Seems like we need to Yrjo's paper in front of everyone if we are
>> going to make progress
>> on this topic.
>> Yrjo-- At the end of one of my notes on this topic I said that it
>> would be good to have
>> various people who took a "breaking away perspective" give
>> What are your
>> favorite examples? Do you have a pdf version of the paper we can
>> for dicussion?
>> mike
>> On Tue, 29 Mar 2005 09:39:44 -0800, Mary Bryson
>> wrote:
>> > 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
>> was
>> > actually a Postmodernism Bashing carnival> and the whole group
>> > discussing the enormous significance of a scientific model for
>> "learning to
>> > read" <back to, postmodernism bashing> and so I instigated a
>> away"
>> > discursive intervention --
>> > I suggested that the discussion on "learning" might more
>> <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
>> 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
>> 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
>> read"
>> > --- an activity that, in school, surely, is one of the means for
>> > production of a subjugated and disciplined body --- a tame
>> ventriloquist. I
>> > would argue that if the "break away" is what we want to
>> then it
>> > would be very useful to study the "ones that got away" -- the
>> contexts and
>> > practices that produce diss-identification with culture's
>> > trajectory.
>> >
>> > Nice to be back,
>> >
>> > Mary
>> >
>> >

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