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Re: [xmca] Kndergarten Cram: When is play?


Interesting! I particularly appreciate your references to data from a range
of settings and for different purposes.


On 5/6/09 4:42 PM, "David Kellogg" <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com> wrote:

> And then again, David, perhaps NOT. Here are some countervailing facts to
> consider, before we leap to conclusions about the malign effects of
> Confucianism (which, like most truly ancient cultural traditions, has an
> irrepressibly creative and humanist core) on dysfunctional American education.
> a) The old Stevenson studies that first found a massive advantage for Asian
> schools also discovered that American schools spend FAR more time on
> "seatwork" than Asian schools do.
> b) The 2002 PISA evaluation which found a massive advantage for Korean schools
> in things like literacy, science, and math ALSO found a massive advantage in
> creative problems solving (in fact, Korea scored first, whereas it was only
> second or third in other supposedly stronger areas based on rote learning).
> c) The areas where we in Korea do have the MOST cram school involvement (e.g.
> English) are consistently our WEAKEST areas, not our strongest (we were 19th
> out of 20 countries in the British Council International English Language
> Testing Service evaluation).
> d) In the sixties, Robert Kaplan, the founder of "Contrastive Rhetoric"
> attempted to argue that the "eight legged essay" of the imperial examination
> system (baguwen) was responsible for Chinese students' errors in composition;
> Mohan and Lo demonstrated that such effects could be found in work of almost
> ALL foreign students. Most Chinese students could not compose an eight legged
> essay in Chinese (it's actually a quite artistic form which takes a long time
> to master). Spoiler alert: Kaplan also believed that Russians and Frenchmen
> write in zigzags, Arabs in spirals, and the only true linear language
> was...you guessed it...English.
> There's more! This is from Goncu, A. (1999) Children's Engagement in the
> World: Socicultural Perspectives. CUP.
> Farver, J.M. (1999) Activity setting analysis: A model for examining the role
> of culture in development. pp . 99-127.
> p. 116: 'Most European American mothers believed that play was a learning
> experience and was related to positive developmental outcomes for children,
> wheres most Korean-American mothers said that play was primarily for the
> children¹s amusement.'
> Tudge, J., Hogan, D., Lee, S.-E., Tammeveski, P., Meltsas, M., Kulakova, N.,
> Snezhkova, I and Putnam, S. (1999) Cultural heterogeneity: Parental values and
> beliefs and heir preschoolers¹ activities in the United States, South Korea,
> Russia, and Estonia. 62-96.
> Tudge et al. made 180 observations of each child in the survey and tabulated
> to what extend they were involved in play, lessons, and work. (p. 87): 'Out
> data made clear that even if the cross city differences in values and beliefs
> did not fall into a consistent pattern, the same cannot be said of social
> class. In terms of both values and beliefs the results were precisely as
> predicted.'
> Interestingly, they found that children in Korea were most involved in play
> (122/180 observations) and kids in Oninsk the least (86/180). But they find
> FAR more academic play in middle class kids in Korea than working class kids
> (nearly three times as much).
> All in all, exactly what Vygotsky would have predicted. There is a profound,
> inner link between imaginative play and schoolwork, that is, compulsory
> behavior patterned according to abstract rules.
> That profound inner link is NOT available through rote work and empty
> verbalism, which despite a superficially "scientist" dressing is actually
> based on the exercise of the lower psychogical functions. Neither is it
> available through giving one's involuntary attention span a workout or running
> around meaninglessly through the "adventure time" provided by popular media.
> (I think THIS is the REAL way in which capitalism insinuates itself into the
> educational system; and THAT is why capitalist educational ideologues like
> Thorndike have never accepted the Vygotskyan distinction between lower and
> higher psychological functions.)
> That profound inner link is always and ineluctably bound up with the
> meaningful word. I think the point about Mike's problem (and the excellent
> paper by Sfard he sent around after it) concerning the multiplication of two
> negative numbers or a negative and a positive is that there really IS a link
> between written language, grammar, and mathematical ability.
> "It does not happen that arithmetic develops certain functions in isolation
> and independently and written speech develops others. Each different subject
> has in part a common psychological basis. The seizure of conscious awareness
> and mastery is in the forefront of development in the same way for the
> learning of grammar as for that of written speech. We find it in the learning
> of arithmetic as well as at the centre of attention n the learning of
> scientific concepts. Abstract thinking of the child develops in all of his
> lessons and his development does not decompose itself in fact into separate
> courses corresponding to diverse study materials which are divided up as in
> school learning." (Pensiero e linguaggio, trans. by L. Meccaci, p. 266)
> So it passes by way of what Vygotsky delightfully calls "scientific
> imagination". That this expression strikes us as oxymoronic is yet more
> testimony to the poverty of our science and the paucity of our imagination, or
> at least the dysfunctionality of the non-Confucian education that supplied our
> understanding of both.
> "Voluntary attention and logical memory, abstract thinking and scientific
> imagination develop each other, thanks to a basis which is common to all of
> the higher psychological functions into a unique complex process; the common
> basis of all of these higher psychological functions, whose development
> constitutes the principal neoformation of the school age, is the seizure of
> conscious awareness and mastery." (p. 268).
> Conscious awareness and mastery! Not the sort of thing you want the sons and
> daughters of the working classes playing with, is it?
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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Holli A. Tonyan, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff Ave
Northridge, CA 91330-8255

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