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Re: [xmca] Friesen Article


The problem is that when you ask a technologist for a definition you always get an example. It's just the way we bullfrogs think: we are just like those little kids that Vygotsky asked for a definition of a grandmother. All we can say is that my grandma has soft hands and smells like rosewater soap.
The technology we were teaching this morning was foreign language reading and writing. I started out with the specific problem we now have; the new curriculum wants us to introduce the alphabet in the second semester of third grade instead of the first semester of fourth grade, and we've got no materials. The extant materials are not much good anyway, because they assume that when you teach the kids the alphabet song, they can read or write almost anything they can say or understand.
When you know the notes to sing
You can sing most anything!
It's a nice theory, but as Vygotsky says "Written speech is not simply a translation of oral speech into graphic signs; the mastery of written speech is not simply the assimilation of the technique of writing. In that case, we would expect that as soon as the mechanism of writing was assimilated written speech would become as rich and developed as oral speech and it would resemble it just as a translation resembles the original. But this does not take place in the development of written speech."
And THEN he goes on about the abstraction of written speech we've been talking about; that's why written speech doesn't recapitulate spoken language and also why foreign language writing can't recapitulate the three-day miracle of Korean children who learn Hangeul, the alphabet of their own language.
We can't do that. So we teach the alphabet song like this (to the tune of "Do Re Mi" in the Sound of Music):
A, an ant, an antsy ant!
B, is a buzzy buzzy bee!
C. etc.
One of my undergrads (from the Music Department) pointed out that the song works better if you start with C, because 'do' is actually C natural on the music scale that the kids have to learn. And today the kids were having trouble coming up with the right adjectives, so the improvised version (because the only reason to plan a lesson is to be able to improvise properly) become something like:
C, a cat, a catty cat!
D is a doggy doggy dog!
E is an egg, an eggy egg!
This too works much better. It teaches the children an (over)generalization rule about how to turn an English noun into an adjective. It's still not much good for more than the alphabet though. 
Then we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to turn a set of cartoons with empty speech bubbles in the textbook (which are used for prompting speaking activities) into a "cartoon factory" and then a "cartoon museum" for the kids.
You can see that a lot of these discoveries are problems we solve while solving other problems (and I often suspect that a lot of the things we learn on xmca is quite literally stuff we learn on the way to looking up other things). That might just be the strongest argument yet in favor of the practical, pragmatic, problem oriented approach. It's not really an interdiscipline; it's more like an inter-praxis, in which we find one serendipity after another.
But that's the problem I have with the Friesen article, Mike. It doesn't seem to me to be about any real problem. It's really about chatbots, and not about anything I could call discursive psychology at all. It's a discursive psychology without any real discourse, with nothing but a human pretending that a machine is pretending to be human. 
Let me answer your question with ANOTHER question. What is the practical purpose of this definition of technology? The Greeks wanted one in order to distinguish the performers' interests from those of the audience. 
But Brecht always wanted a drama where the audience didn't bother to take off their hats and felt free to smoke. That is why he loved Chinese opera; Chinese performers talk straight to the audience, and sit around cracking jokes and melon seeds with them when they are not actually on stage. And that's why Brecht says:
The other day I met my audience
In a dusty street
He gripped a penumatic drill in his fists
For a second
He looked up. Rapidly I set up my theatre
Between the houses. He
Looked expectant.
In the pub
I met him again.
He was standing at the bar
Grimy with sweat, he was drinking. In his fist.
A thick sandwich. Rapidly, I set up my theatre. He
Looked astonished.
Outside the station
With brass bands and rifle butts I saw him
Being herded off to war
In the midst of the crowd
I set up my theatre. Over his shoulder, he
Looked back and nodded.
(Brecht on Theatre, p. 174)
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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