Re: [xmca] change in education

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Wed Aug 03 2005 - 09:18:38 PDT

Mary-- There is an enormous amount of material to be discussed in your note.
When you are back we might see if we
can find some way to interrogate at least some of them systematically.

Just one noticing. You point to a way to "explode" the division of labor
into a mutiplicity into a tangle of intersecting, overlapping
networks. I believe a similar tendency can be see in the work of many who
similarly inquire about multiple subjects, tools,
social rules, communities, objects.

Lots of everythings connected to lots of other everythings on lots of time
scales makes for some difficult problems of analysis!!!

On 8/2/05, Mary K. Bryson <> wrote:
> On 8/1/05 5:49 AM, "Carol Macdonald" <> wrote:
> This speaks to units of analysis issue that seem to be important, and to
> interactions among levels or spheres of activity. Some hang their hats on
> educational, digital, networked, etc. technologies as ways to distribute
> knowledge, activity, and power differently in education. Though the
> politics
> of education continue to operate as they have for generations, what do
> others think about the possibilities of new technological capabilities
> fostering what Peg Griffin offered, "interactive activation among parallel
> distributed processes," being revolutionary? Can communication channels'
> being multiplied and diversified disrupt old-school politics?
> Well now... Starting with the notion of "distribution" - I presented a
> modified CHAT triangle at the AERA CHAT SIG meeting talk, where instead of
> "distribution of labour", I drew on Paolo Virno's notion of the "Grammar of
> the Multitude" (2004, Semiotexte)-- which is a post-marxian, post-fordist
> rearticulation of relations to "flows of capital" and the retooling of
> labour. Virno, like Appadurai, wants to get into a position that is neither
> utopic nor dystopic regarding the "possibilities" inherent in new
> technologies of mediation. These scholars are interested in the everyday
> uses of technologies by folks where people participated in cultural
> resignification and recycling work and cultural production become less
> distinguishable. So people access the web at work, podcast, blog and the
> like... And so we have a move outside of the traditional marxian dialectic
> and more in line with a notion of circuits, networks, rhizomes --- pick your
> favorite post-Deleuzian image... The relationship to "education" then
> requires that we deal with the question of whether we are talking about a
> retooling of how to "do school" or whether we are seriously going to look at
> where it is that people learn what is culturally relevant as they
> participate in various kinds of collectivities. Distributing power
> differently, as Foucault persuasively argued, changes everything except our
> capacity to hang on to some illusion that we are producing freedom or agency
> in so doing. The most repressive environments, he argued in his Panopticon
> model, are those where power is diffuse and immanent. Which gets me back to
> one of the questions that I was wrestling with a while ago how to
> articulate the significance of mediation as a property of artifacts, and the
> mediational mileux that animate artifacts and so, say, we talk about
> "educational television" as a distinctive and somehow appropriate use of a
> medium in the setting of schools. So what is that we are suturing onto
> television by bracketing certain types of engagement, presumably, and
> content, as somehow, educational? This is surely also a very vexed question
> in contemporary discourses around "educational computing". What makes it so,
> and not otherwise? Lots of critical folks have hung their hats on the notion
> of multi-literacies, but I am not persuaded. I have found it useful to go
> back to reading Latour on what, in the Politics of Nature, he calls,
> "quasi-objects".
> "The case of asbestos can serve as a model, since it is probably one of
> the last objects that was called modernist. It was a perfect substance... at
> once inert, effective, and profitable. It took decades before the health
> consequences of its diffusion were finally attributed to it, before asbestos
> and its inventors, manufacturers, proponents, and inspectors were called
> into question... Once an ideal inert material, it became a nightmarish
> imbroglio of law, hygiene, and risk.... Yet like weeds in a French garden,
> other objects with more extravagant forms are beginning to blur the
> landscape by superimposing their own branchings on those of modernist
> objects... [Quasi-objects] have no clear boundaries, no well-defined
> essences, no sharp separation between their own hard kernel and their
> environment. It is because of this feature that they take on the aspect of
> tangled beings, forming rhizomes and networks... They have numerous
> connections, tentacles, and pseudopods that link them in many different ways
> to beings as ill assured as themselves.[1]"
> My favorite medium for thinking this through at the moment is blogging,
> where people literally relocate memory and cultural production onto surfaces
> of exteriority in a manner that seems unlike anything that has come before.
> But is it educational? This question performs its own exclusions, of
> course. A while ago, Suzanne de Castell, Jennifer Jenson and I dealt with
> some of these questions in a paper that may be of interest:
> Mary
> <PS I am away for the next two weeks, even from email. So if someone
> responds and I don't chime in, it's cuz I have cut the wires, temporarily>
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