Re: [xmca] Artifacts, Tools and Classroom

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Tue Jan 17 2006 - 08:53:21 PST

Harry Daniels and Anne Edwards are the lead editors of MCA, Eric. I simply
with the logistics of getting it out. So I read the article after it was
published just as did the
rest of us. It seems to me that our task in such readings is to make the
principled theoretical and methodological issues as clear to ourselves as
possible and learn all we can from the empirical examples. I take it that is
what people are engaged in doing. I am grateful both to the authors for
their work and to those who take the time to struggle with interpreting and
learning from it. The gaps within the abstracts, and between abstractions
and concrete cases can, as we are seeing, be filled in in many ways. Which
interprertations have a future we think we want to live with? Lets find
them and then critically use them to see if we are right.


On 1/17/06, <> wrote:
> Yes Mike, in retrospect there are liberties taken with the literature
> review. I appreciate that it was allowed to be published in a journal
> edited by yourself. Citing other sources for explaining the separation of
> a tool/artifact from the ideal would have been prudent, such as Jones or
> Valsiner. My reason for appreciating the article comes from it's parsing
> out the different units involved in the learning environment. In order
> to
> better understand how activity facilitates human development the
> material/referant should be allotted more emphasis than the spoken word.
> eric
> Mike Cole
> <lchcmike who-is-at gmail. To: "eXtended Mind,
> Culture, Activity" <>
> com> cc:
> Sent by: Subject: Re: [xmca]
> Artifacts, Tools and Classroom
> xmca-bounces who-is-at web
> 01/14/2006 04:00
> PM
> Please respond
> to mcole; Please
> respond to
> "eXtended Mind,
> Culture,
> Activity"
> Hi Eric et al--
> I actually had difficulty with this article and its literature overview. I
> especially find it
> disorienting when people refer to my work and make references to "the role
> of non-material
> cultural artifacts". Or, refer to my writing about artifacts and declare
> them to be of two kinds,
> material and ideal (the former occurs in this article, the latter is a
> frequent reading). In this regard,
> in Chapter 5 of Cultural Psychology to which the authors refer in citing
> my
> views, I wrote:
> According to the view presented here, which bears a close affinity to the
> ideas of John Dewey and also traces its genealogy back to Hegel and Marx,
> an
> artifact is an aspect of the material world that has been modified over
> the
> history of its incorporation in goal directed human action. By virtue of
> the
> changes wrought in the process of their creation and use, artifacts
> are*simultaneously ideal (conceptual) and material
> *. They are manufactured in the process of goal directed human actions.
> They
> are ideal in that their material form has been shaped by their
> participation
> in the inter­actions of which they were previously a part and which they
> mediate in the present.
> Defined in this manner, the properties of artifacts apply with equal force
> whether one is con­sidering language/speech or the more usually noted
> forms
> of artifacts such as tables and knives which constitute material
> culture.[1]<#_ftn1>What differentiates the word "table" from an actual
> table is the relative
> prominence of their material and ideal aspects and the kinds of
> coordinations they afford. No word exists apart from its material
> instantiation (as a configuration of sound waves, hand movements, writing,
> or neuronal activity), whereas every table embodies an order imposed by
> thinking human beings
> ------------------------------
> <#_ftnref1> [1] For a discussion of language as a system of artifacts
> and the homology between words and what we usually think of as material
> artifacts, see Rossi-Landi (1983, p. 120ff)
> ---------------------
> I could, of course, be totally wrong and I believe the Peter Jones, among
> others, does not share my views. But a major point of departure for me is
> the primal fusion of the ideal and material in mediated human action and
> their differentiation only in bracketed ways for specific purposes.
> In a similar way, I find it disorienting to have a semiotic triangle
> referred to as a tertiary artifact citing Wartofsky.
> Perhaps others can help out here.
> mike
> On 1/11/06, <> wrote:
> >
> >
> > Great article! Especially good in its overview of the literature that
> > defines tools and artifacts. The authors tend to side with the
> separation
> > of psychological and material artifacts for the purpose of being able to
> > study how groups conduct a learning exercise. My understanding of why
> > they
> > did this was so they could reference how many times the students refered
> > to
> > the 'flip chart", the puzzle or the textbook. The authors do not
> dismiss
> > spoken language as artifact but rather there intention was to concretely
> > determine how many references to the artifact were made per session.
> >
> > Big question raised by the authors is even though in all three examples
> > there is movement towards a completed lesson: getting the book read,
> > completing the puzzle or learning the english language there is no clear
> > method of knowing to what extent individual student's in each lesson
> > gained
> > knowledge or "learned" anything.
> >
> > I have always respected Engstrom's approach that the psychological
> aspect
> > of an artifact cannot be separated from the material object but I tend
> to
> > agree with the authors that this approach does not provide much of a
> > folcrum for studying how artifacts facilitate the learning process.
> >
> > what do you think?
> >
> > eric
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> >
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