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Re: [xmca] Message in a Bottle Erratum

In my glorious days of teaching maths in London in the 1970s, it was fairly early along the UK's long road to decimalisation. The British like their own good old customs, and for a while they had a two-and-a-half pence piece, rather than entirely give up the old sixpence, along with 2.54mm screws. People weigh stones and walk miles. One of the side effects of this was that while the general population ignored kilograms and kilometres, we had to teach them and only them at school. This meant that kg and km were entities that the kids only met with at school. I think for a lot of the kids they only dimly understood that kms were for distance and kgs were for weight, as these entities only ever figures in classroom exercises and lessons.

This was burnt into my understanding when a youngster who was doing a test on scale drawing flung his ruler on to the floor exclaiming "This useless bloody school! ... (or more colourful words to that effect) ... this ruler doesn't have kilometres on it!"

So I think kids can learn in school and leave behind when they leave the capacity to execute formal operations correctly, without relating the operations to anything they experience in the outside world.

I would have thought that really grasping a true concept entails both being able to give correct answers based on intra-institutional relations, and, being able to utilize them in the outside culture. Knowledge like solving maths problems in the class abstractly are not complexes are they?


Mike Cole wrote:
I get the idea of true concepts depending upon schooling, David and Paula.
But i am sceptical of the conclusions you appear to agree upon on two

1. I do not believe that school is the only institutional setting that
induces thinking in concepts. Perhaps LSV did.

2. I do not believe, and I believe there textual evidence to show that
Vygotsky believed that they were left at the school door. Schooling adds to
the toolkit. It does not uniformly replaced the prior toolkit of everyday

Am misinterpreting the significance of what you two are saying?


On Wed, May 27, 2009 at 6:31 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>wrote:

Paula just sent me something quite kind about my Message in a Bottle.
Praise from Paula is praise indeed, particularly where Chapter Five of T&S
is concerned.

I was just letting it go to my head and linger when I noticed the following
stupid mistake:

"So in this sense the new theory in which concepts (sic) are left at the
school door is not entirely inconsistent with the old theory according to
which thinking in concepts really only takes place in the transitional age
(i.e. adolescence)."

Of course, it's COMPLEXES that the 1934 Vygotsky is suggesting may be left
at the school door. Sorry, I must have left my head on the subway yesterday;
usually it's just my hat.

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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