Re: [xmca] Re: Some thoughts on some issues in Hasan's papers

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Wed Jul 06 2005 - 09:57:36 PDT

Hi Ed,
I agree with you that the term "real life" and the adjective
"real-life" when used to distinguish schools from other things is
unfortunate. For students caught in schools, schools are terribly REAL
LIFE. It would be better to use the more cumbersome in-school and
out-of-school distinction, thereby marking the different objects that
are involved, levels of control people have over defining the
object/motive they want to concretize, and control over the means,
definitions of goals, division of labor to seek, etc.

On 6-Jul-05, at 9:06 AM, Ed Wall wrote:

> As I look throughout the K-12 spectrum and beyond (although I think
> mostly in the elementary grades), I find I have mixed emotions about
> the term real-life. That is, there seems to be a lot that isn't ( Eric
> Gutstein, Michael, and some others are exceptions), but is put forth
> otherwise. I am always reminded by the comments of Goffman (in Frame
> Analysis) as regards practice in that in school one never gets much
> past that and, so to speak, on to rehearsal and the play. I wonder if
> 'rehearsal' and the 'play' can be engaging whether they are
> 'real-life' or not.
> Ed Wall
>> But, I wonder, there is not also a complementary step here, which
>> goes beyond science education, and that has to do with raising
>> students' political awareness? I guess a topic can have to do with
>> real life and the students might not feel its relevance. Just to
>> illustrate, a university example comes handy: that of the students
>> (undergrads or grads) that perform methodologically sound studies of
>> whatever social issue without adopting any practical action based on
>> their research. One thing is to understand polution, poverty or
>> other, a quite different is to be disgusted by it. And, quite beyond
>> the initial reaction, to learn what to do with these feelings.
>> David
>> Wolff-Michael Roth writes:
>>>> It seems to me that, in order to engage students with different
>>>> notions of relevance, we need to relate the teaching of the topics
>>>> prescribed in the school curriculum to real life situations and
>>>> issues that students immediately recognize - or fairly readily come
>>>> to recognize - as significant in their current or envisaged future
>>>> lives. Much of the skill of the teacher lies in identifying such
>>>> situations and issues in advance or from listening to what students
>>>> have to say when their views are genuinely requested. This is what
>>>> I have tried to capture in advocating the approach to curriculum
>>>> through 'dialogic inquiry' that involves practical as well as
>>>> intellectual actions.
>>> This is what we attempted to do in a project described in part in
>>> RETHINKING SCIENTIFIC LITERACY (with A. C. Barton), where we
>>> describe children who learn science as they followed the call of
>>> environmental activists to do something about a local creek. The
>>> children (7th grade) subsequently reported what they found at an
>>> open house organized by the environmentalists. The unit is
>>> interesting in the sense that parents came out with us, some taught,
>>> environmentalists helped out, First Nations people, it was a real
>>> mixing of a great variety of people.
>>> Michael
>>> PS We received the AERA Div K award this year--the book also
>>> contains stories of people fighting for access to water, inner-city
>>> kids converting an abandoned lot into a garden, women teachers in
>>> Pakistan taking risks by teaching in different ways, for overcoming
>>> poverty.
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>> David D. Preiss
>> home page:
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