RE: [xmca] has anyone any opinion

From: Gordon Wells (
Date: Thu Jul 14 2005 - 16:01:07 PDT

>Dear Peg,
>This is one of the best books that I have read lately about the
>application of psychological theory to education. I really recommend it.
I agree. I found Olson's book very stimulating.

What I found particularly fascinating was the parallel between
learning in the classroom as an emergent phenomenon v. learning as
framed and organized by the larger institution of education, on the
one hand, and dynamic/everyday/narrative v.
synoptic/scientific/paradigmatic modes of meaning-making, on the
other. Although I haven't checked this with David, I suspect his
late-flowering interest in the tension between these two perspectives
on education arises from his earlier work on the relationship between
speech and writing (cf.his provocative paper "From utterance to
text", 1978).

The distinction he made there with respect to the locus of meaning -
between the negotiated, situated meaning of utterances and the fixed,
situation-independent meaning of the text resurfaces in this recent
book: in classrooms, meaning is co-constructed in the ongoing
discourse and what is 'meant' by teacher or students is rarely
understood in the same way by all parties. By contrast, within the
institution of education, what is 'meant' in relation to goals,
organizational structures, curriculum and criteria for success is
specified in written documents, whose meaning is assumed to be fixed
and understood identically by all concerned.

This seems to be related to the sense and meaning contrast that is
currently under discussion.


Gordon Wells
Dept of Education,
UC Santa Cruz.

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