Re: [xmca] Artifacts, Tools, Classroom and AERA

From: bb (
Date: Fri Jan 20 2006 - 15:36:30 PST

 -------------- Original message ----------------------
From: Lara Beaty <>
> Doesn't the surveillance have the same effect regardless of whether it
> has a machavellion intent? It may be necessary, but isn't Foucault's
> point that it becomes internalized and is no longer necessary? It leads
> to self-control because the children never know for sure if they are
> being watched or not. It doesn't mean the have be aware of it for the
> effect to be the same. This can be viewed as both a good thing and a
> bad thing, but a constraint is still imposed, just less materially.

Oh yes, in this case the intent is not machiavelian, but in accord with the object of child development, the intent is for the social regulation to become self regulation. And there is diversity here -- some children need not be watched from the beginning, others become self-regulating, and others do not. There actually are more than three possibilities however, because self regulation is one of degrees and kinds.

> >
> The gaze and the unfamiliar texts may or may not be filtered out, and
> the meaning that is shared may or may not be shared with a whole group.
> I see that particularly for youth and young adults that the lack of
> familiarity with travel or an awareness of surveillance may lead to a
> dis-identification -- a disconnection -- because a lack of meaning or
> an awareness of power differences creates its own meanings. Still, I'm
> not comfortable with talking about this as a constraint of the text
> because it does not prevent discussion; it simply fails to promote
> discussion. I think an important question is what effect do the
> artifacts/tools/signs always have on the activity and what do they
> simply make possible.
> I hope that makes sense.

Sure. I've documentation for significant diversity in literacy -- namely the reading assessments of these first graders. (Not)Shared and (not)filtered are binary descriptions and not expressive enough of the degrees (or in the language of the trade, the levels) of childrens reading. The teaching is about what understandings are shared, in math and literacy especially, and so meaning is where I am focussing -- the fact that children share in greater and lesser degrees is in contradiction with a monolithic curriculum -- and the response (of responsive teaching) is to try to resolve this contradiction.

I agree that talking about both constraints and affordances of text is not as useful as talking about children's semiotic (meaning potentials). The latter focusses on what is possible, and as Halliday has made the relation between meaning potential and zone of proximal development explicit, activity theory and systemic functional linguistics can very provide complementary and interlinked perspectives.


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