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[Xmca-l] Re: The Learning Sciences in the era of U.S. Nationalism

Well, you say "curt" and "rush" and ask for my "better set of ideas," Mike, but I have been sweating for months trying to figure out a way of raising this issue without stimulating this kind of reaction. I obviously haven't found it yet. I thought xmca was about the safest forum I knew to raise difficult questions. I'll keep my mouth shut, because I don't have a "better set of ideas." I see a problem, but I don't see the solution, and I don't see clarity emerging from here.


Andy Blunden
On 23/01/2017 5:36 PM, mike cole wrote:
There are big problems reading one paragraph and neglecting to read the rest, Andy. You negelected this one, among others in your rush to irony.

/From a liberal perspective, the anti-immigrant and anti-poor rhetoric in Trump’s campaign appears to be an about-face from eight progressive years under the last administration. But these political turns are not so straightforward. In recent years for example, the Obama administration’s deportation of over 2.5 million undocumented children and families (Iaconangelo, 2016), from Central America and Mexico in particular, displayed our nation’s refusal to understand immigration in light of a troubling legacy of U.S. military and political-economic intervention in these countries. Economic policies that favor the wealthy have led to drastic inequalities over the past few decades where a mere 20 Americans have more financial assets than the bottom half of the country—157 million people—combined (Collins & Hoxie, 2015). The classism of incarceration was unmasked as the Department of Justice failed to prosecute the Wall Street architects of the Great Recession (Cohan, 2015), but federal prisons were expanded to accommodate disproportionately low-income, non-violent offenders (Rabuy & Kopf, 2015)./

How about nurturing such discussion instead of dismissing it out of hand that way? You have a better set of ideas, put them out there on this thread. That is what this thread/xmca are for. It is not for reaching snap judgments and squelching discussion.


On Sun, Jan 22, 2017 at 6:39 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    One paragraph from the article on Learning Sciences
    and US Nationalism:

           Our scholarship has the potential to be a form of
           transformative resistance against the most
           significant political threats to our democracy
           by explicitly defending and furthering the rights
           and well-being of people of color, immigrants,
           Muslims, women, people who are differently abled,
           LGBTQ communities, and the earth.

    So I take this to mean that the authors think that the
    fact that inequality has reached a point where 2
    individuals own as much wealth as the poorest 50% of
    the world's population and 26 individuals own half of
    the world's wealth is a non-issue. That the
    de-industrialisation of US cities is a matter of no
    importance. To use one of the catchphrases of the
    election, they are "doubling down" on the claim that
    inequality is a matter of cultural prejudice and if
    only we were all much more careful in our use of
    language and showed respect for cultural differences,
    then we can safely leave the world in the hands of
    Walmart and Exxon.


    Andy Blunden
    http://home.mira.net/~andy <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy>

    On 23/01/2017 8:01 AM, mike cole wrote:

        Helena et al --

        An important emphasis in the article for me was on
        the fact that although
        the article focused on the American nationalist
        movement that has just
        pulled of an alt-right coup, similar movements are
        poised to take hold in a
        lot of places in Europe to join the many already
        entrenched unsavory
        governments in other parts of the world.

        The CRADLE center in Helsinki is under very
        concerted attack and the right
        wing government appears, from this distance, to be
        making great progress on
        destroying its legacy. The same process has been
        in Denmark for some time,
        also with apparent success.

        What do our international colleagues who have
        already felt the hot breath
        of right wing nationalism have to offer in terms
        of strategies of

        Back to "what is to be done," that sombre question
        from an earlier era. The
        answer last time did not produce what it promised.



        On Sun, Jan 22, 2017 at 12:22 PM, Helena Worthen

            Thank you, Alfredo - I gave it a read.

            Sure, of course they’re right. But I am very

            I was hoping that the following was only item
            #1 in a long list of "what
            the 2016 election made apparent":

            The 2016 election has made apparent the need
            for scholarship that
            explicitly defends and furthers the rights and
            well-being of people of
            color, immigrants, Muslims, women, people who
            are differently abled, LGBTQ
            communities, and the earth. These are stances
            that have been limited, at
            least explicitly, in the Learning Sciences.

            But the call for inclusion was not just #1, it
            seems to be the whole
            thing.  In other words, it’s all about
            identity —plus the earth, of course.
            While inclusion is necessary, it’s not even a
            start. Yes, research,
            teaching, publishing, promotion, conferences —
            everything associated with
            teaching and learning has to include everyone
            as equals (see Andy’s book)
            in one way or another — but then what? What
            are they (we) supposed to do?
            Where does the pretty language touch the ground?

            I was listening to a broadcast of the Women’s
            March in DC on Saturday
            morning, and Kamala Harris, who was the
            California State Attorney General
            and is now a junior Senator from CA, was
            addressing the rally. She said,
            “People always ask me to talk about women’s
            issues. I say, ‘Oh, I’m SO glad
            you’re interested in economics!! Let’s talk
            about economics.”  And she ran
            through a whole set of parallel
            back-and-forths, always pulling identity
            questions back to wages, jobs, earning,
            supporting your family, etc etc.

            Much as we need to wipe away any barriers to
            the Learning Sciences (and
            the professions and institutions dedicated to
            them) due to identity, until
            the Learning Sciences start taking a look at
            the place where most people
            spend most of their lives — not school, I mean
            — but work, they will be
            engaging in a soft conversation at the edge of
            the real issue. It’s a
            pleasant conversation but it doesn’t put a
            hand on the levers that
            translate skill and knowledge into rent and


            Helena Worthen
            Berkeley, CA 94707
            Blog about US and Viet Nam:

                On Jan 22, 2017, at 11:38 AM, Alfredo
                Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no


                Here it is,



                From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu

            on behalf of Helena Worthen

                Sent: 22 January 2017 20:24
                To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
                Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Learning
                Sciences in the era of U.S.


                Someone please re-send the link to this
                article?  I think I’m going to

            want to read it and respond to Mike’s question.

                Thanks — H

                Helena Worthen
                Berkeley, CA 94707
                Blog about US and Viet Nam:

                    On Jan 22, 2017, at 12:25 AM, Alfredo
                    Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no



                    thanks a lot for sharing this article.
                    You and Michael, who have and

            know more history, have spoken in terms of
            reminiscences. I have lived and
            know less, and the article feels like fresh
            air. During my PhD, I begun to
            increasingly feel that I had to due something
            to act and respond to the
            increasing ecological and humanitarian globe
            crises. But how could I do
            anything if I had children and a PhD to
            finalise?? What could I do that
            would also be doing my job as researcher in a
            department of education? It
            was very difficult to find anything, partly
            because almost every academic
            quest would focus on learning, but so little
            on social development. How
            many scientific articles are dedicated to
            socio-political questions in the
            most cited educational journals? I felt very

                    To be able to address these questions
                    within my expertise, is a

            challenge partly because contrary to Dewey's
            hope, educational research has
            only marginally focused on these questions,
            and yet they may be exactly the
            question that matter to education. What are we
            educating for? Indeed, what
            is education for? I think we face a serious
            problem when someone (like
            myself), being an educational
            researchers/scholar, still has to scratch her
            head wondering <<how can I make my profession
            matter to social change and
            development?>> Vygotsky would be shocked!


                    From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu

            on behalf of mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu

                    Sent: 19 January 2017 04:51
                    To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
                    Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Learning
                    Sciences in the era of U.S.


                    Yes Michael,

                    It feels like the world of the later
                    1930's about the time I was born as
                    that period came down to me through
                    the prism of a family of "premature
                    anti fascists."

                    For a great re-creation of those times
                    see the highly ambivalent film by
                    Frank Capra, "meet John Doe." It has
                    American big capital interconnected
                    with fascism combined with populist
                    collectivism in a manner that

            points at

                    the media (as then experienced) as the
                    bad guys in disguise. Happy


                    Beethoven Ode to Joy and all.

                    It's come round again, nastier this time.

                    On Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 6:20 PM
                    Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu


                        It was so interesting to read this
                        note after reading the Cognition and
                        Instruction essay.  All the way
                        through it I kept thinking we have
                        here before.  It reminded me of
                        the scholars, especially those who had
                        escaped from Germany, trying to
                        make sense of what had happened to


                        society during World War II.  The
                        foremost in my mind was Lewin.

            Except I

                        wonder if he would say the process
                        of transformative action starts not


                        emergence of quasi-needs, but our
                        willingness and abilities to step


                        from our quasi-needs and the ways
                        that they drive us, often to
                        dysfunctional behaviors that it
                        ultimately destructive to both our


                        and to us as individuals.  How
                        hard this is to do, we have to keep


                        back again and again.  The
                        quasi-needs, tribalism, acceptance,

            standing are

                        always there.  It is how they
                        shape us that is critical.


                        -----Original Message-----

                        On Behalf Of mike cole

                        Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2017
                        8:31 PM

                        To: eXtended Mind, Culture,
                        Activity <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu

                        Subject: [Xmca-l] The Learning
                        Sciences in the era of U.S.

                        In following  the perezhivanie
                        thread I encountered the note I


                        And interestingly mis-remembered.
                        A translation into my focus on
                        mediational means. He places the
                        starting point of the process of
                        transformative action at the
                        emergence of quasi-needs (from Kurt


                        That seems correct to me. The new
                        mediational means emerge under
                        environmental presses. Ever
                        functionalist ego need a goal(!). (The


                        with functionalism) In David's words,

                        Perhaps the place we should look
                        for "exaptations" that can save both


                        personalities and our environment
                        is not in our evolved needs, but in


                        to be designed quasi-needs.
                        Artificial organs, after all, always


                        new and ever more artificial
                        functions, like chess and language.

                        This point seems worth keeping in
                        mind as we look at where this group


                        critical scholars who work within
                        the Learning Sciences disciplinary
                        framework would like to lead us.