[xmca] RE: meaning and sense and has anyone any opinion

From: Peg Griffin (Peg.Griffin@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Fri Jul 22 2005 - 06:31:10 PDT

Gordon, I've often thought along the lines you explore about how it relates
to Vygotsky's meaning/sense discussion. Maybe it reflects his roots in
philology. If so, then maybe we can push it a little further.

Gordon's list of alternatives were: "dynamic/everyday/narrative v.
synoptic/scientific/paradigmatic modes of meaning-making." When I see
"paradigmatic," I look for "syntagmatic." Maybe for Gordon this is in both
or either "dynamic" and "synoptic?"
I understand paradigmatic and syntagmatic as mutually constitutive not so
much "versus." So, for example, for linguists (I think whether you look
back to Prague School or further to Panini) the copula verb ("to be" in
English) as a paradigm (for example: be am is are were been) is relentlessly
tied to/emerging with its syntax (I am. She is. etc.). The syntagmatic
patterning is not just a methodological frame for the morphological
paradigm; neither one is necessarily primitive to the other (but theories of
language might explore to establish this). Each constitutes the other.
So, maybe 'meaning' can be understood as the paradigmatic and 'sense' as the
syntagmatic of a mutually constitutive set.

I don't really think this is anything new for most following this
discussion. Just maybe a resumption?

Thanks, David and Gordon, for ideas on the Olson book.
-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Gordon Wells
Sent: Thursday, July 14, 2005 6:01 PM
To: xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
Subject: RE: [xmca] has anyone any opinion

>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,		http://education.ucsc.edu/faculty/gwells
UC Santa Cruz.

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