Gutierrez, Rymes, and Larson's article

From: Ares, Nancy (
Date: Thu Mar 25 2004 - 08:53:07 PST

In response to Mike's suggestion that I follow up my recommending
an examination of hybrid and third spaces to inform the discussion
of agency, goals, diversity etc., here are some observations on Gutierrez,
Rymes, and Larson (1995):

First, the article takes a very close look at a classroom, so the focus
is somewhat different than some of the discussion on xmca that has
attended to societies and other spheres of activity. Nonetheless, I think
that some of the central points are informative across and among spheres.

The following are simply observations and musings, and are offered in the
of continuing the conversation...

Goals and motives: I think that both the promise and the difficulty (both of
which are noted in the ongoing discussions on xmca) in looking at goals,
motives, and agency from a sociocultural/CHAT framework is the complexity
that is acknowledged, Rogoff's planes of analysis of sociocultural activity,
Lemke's time scales, and Gutierrez et al.'s official, unofficial, and third
spaces all speak to the tenet that people and groups exist within temporal,
relational, and structural realms. It's almost as if, once we acknowledge
the multidimensional nature of human activity, we can't go back to more
simplistic explanations/explorations. In terms of motives and goals, using
Rogoff's planes, individuals, groups, and communities all must be attended
to. In the classroom in the article, individuals have varied and competing
goals, with some students' goals operating in accord with the teacher's
dominant ones that support the motive or official space, and others
contesting them. I think this provides a good example of how a motive can
define a set of relations in a setting, but be subject to a diversity of
goals. That the motive is distributed across people doesn't imply an equal
or equitable distribution; it instead recognizes that it is though
sociocultural activity that distribution occurs and motives exist. Further,
because motives are activity-based, there are possibilities for resistance,
for expansion of motives, and more transformation (see p. 467, Maintaining
the Third Space: Separate Scripts Are Not Equal).

Agency: the article provides an interesting example of how students and
teachers can all be complicit in maintaining the dominance of the official
script or space (p. 451), but it also provides an important case of
identifying spaces of possibility for marginalized students to resist that
dominance (p. 462-3) in ways that foster the creation of the third space
where truly transformative scripts can be crafted (p. 452, 465). The
fragility of that space is also clear, as its existence in dynamic but
historical power relations is always in jeopardy (p. 466). Agency, then,
seems to be dynamic, sometimes fleeting, sometimes given-by-privilege, but
ultimately situated event. I use event purposefully, to highlight the sense
that it is enacted, not given.

Diversity: Scholars of color have embraced and extended sociocultural
research and theory, I would offer, partly due to the recognition of
complexity, contestation, and tension in examining human activity as the
unit of analysis. Gutierrez, Rymes, and Larson's notion of hybrid space is a
multidimensional scheme that helps us look at classroom diversity in some
unique ways, not only in terms of cultural practices students bring with
them as members of communities and groups, but in terms of "Acknowledging
[that] the inherent cognitive and sociocultural benefits that come from the
multiple discourses is of particular importance, especially in classrooms
populated largely by African American, Latino, and mixed-race students" (p.
447). The potential for cross-cultural communication that was there but lost
in the brief exchange about half-Black, half-White students and
desegregation (p. 466) is important in answering Renee's concerns about
whose motives, shared activity, and potentials for agency. It may be that
the language we use in CHAT to talk about such things needs to be more
explicit in acknowledging the tensions inherent in working toward
intersubjectivity, especially in heterogeneous classrooms and/or other

looking forward to others' thoughts,

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