Re: [xmca] change in education

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Sat Jul 30 2005 - 10:14:23 PDT

Michael-- in an article coming out soon I have a picture of a classroom in
Susmmer about 4000 years ago and it looks architecturally
eerily similar to the large distance learning video classroom at LCHC. We
can move Wilson's statement back to what might almost
be considered on the road to a germ cell of the history of education. Wilson
might have been understating the difficulties! Our
systems of education are power's attempt to reproduce itself. The good news
is that it can't, except maybe as long as 1000 years
or so. Enough to spoil a lot of people's lifetimes, eeking out a next
generation. Think about Yrjo's fascination with the boundary-
breaking away-horizontal dimension of development where cheating on an exam
can be seen as sometimes productive of
educational activity when the standard testing regime is as restrictive as
it is.
 This takes us back to Michael and Ruqaiya's comments about education and
democracy (it makes me think we might wish to
stop and read a little Dewey on that topic because he is always interesting
on the topic, pro or con, depending on one's point of
view. It also takes us back to the discussion positioning, artifacts and
discourse that Mary has tried to raise.
 Peter-- From a certain point of view, one could say that the people of
Siberia were "lifted up" at least in the sense of better
educated as a result of the tradition of sending Russian dissidents to
Siberia. Being a neighbor, perhaps Mao appropiated the
tradition to a theory of development in relation to the ideology of those in
control of State power when he sent intellectuals out
to the country side. Not a bad way to foster a certain notion of
 Many of us do research and participate in educaitonal institutions where,
by and large, we work under heavy bureaucratically mediated interactional
constraints that end us up teaching against our own principles. Check out
our local, highly in demand, introduction
to Economics or Psych courses and then think about the classroom in Summer
with the same kind of architecture People there
engage in nearly the same kinds of practices so that dominated the first
city states. And draconian hierarchical state control.
 It is clearly possible to create educational settings where the form of
education our general theory can be implemented, a test of
theory in practice. But under what socio-historical-cultural conditions can
these forms survive? They survived in Russia in the study at the
time Kozulin is writing about by focusing o preK-11 education, the disabled,
certain forms of medicine, and esoteric cultural studies
of apparently apolitically harmless topic, such as medieval medallions -- or
teaching mathematics. But they were and are by no means a majority. For the
majority, minds that inquire too deeply are likely to stir up trouble.
 So what are we to think, in general about, about democracy and education?
 On 7/30/05, Peter Smagorinsky <> wrote:
> Mike wrote: We do not have the Russian tradition
> of sending people to far-off dangerous environments to rid society of
> them, but we certainly have our ways of disciplining dissidents.
> An interesting example from Chicago in the 1980s, when I lived there: The
> central administration (didn't matter who was in charge) didn't like
> teachers who were outspoken in criticizing the system or how it was run.
> Their solution: to transfer any teacher who spoke out to a school in one of
> city's "worst" neighborhoods. As a result, these schools often ended up with
> really good faculties, or at least faculties who were not docile. I'm sure
> that this benefited the students in these schools, even if their test scores
> didn't reflect the quality of the teaching.
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