Re: [xmca] Kevin's paper for discussion

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Sat Jul 01 2006 - 20:32:43 PDT

How about both-and? If a kid has downs syndrome or spina bifida or a
perinatal stroke it is a difference that is very difficult to avoid having
be a difference
that makes a difference. Not impossible to incorporate into human society in
a human
way, but not easy either.

Being short at the wrong age?
"Too thin" for sociocultural norms?
"Wrong" color hair?

All differences that can be turned into serious deficits and often are, with
long term
negative consequences for those so interpreted.

None of this negates the fact (if I may be allowed to use that word) that
failure has been constituitive
of formal schooling since at least 4000BC, on the record. But it does
complicate theories that assume
that humans have "broken free" from phylogenetic constraints. That was wrong
in 1920 and it is wrong
today. Humans are evolving. Evolving in a cultural medium, to be sure, but

I do not think this was Kevin's main target of inquiry and do not want to
derail the conversation. I was
marking time and voicing a long time concern, not direcrected specifically
to his article but to some
too-frequent implications derivable/derived from theoretical ideas that were
imbricated in his article.


On 7/1/06, Andy Blunden <> wrote:
> At 10:43 AM 1/07/2006 -0400, you wrote:
> >.... What I was trying to foreground is this: Failure, incompetence,
> >inability, etc., happen all the time. There are differences, though, in
> >how consequences of these get organized in different systems of social
> >relations. Some systems are benign, and even if certain displayed
> >inabilities might preclude particular life courses, they don't get used
> to
> >close off the possibility or likelihood of a desirable and valued future
> >in general. Other systems are not benign, and displayed incompetence,
> >inability, or failure do get used to greatly reduce the likelihood of a
> >valued future. I think it's very important to pay attention to how
> >systems of social relations organize these consequences - ...
> So it's not so much the source or cause of difference, but how difference
> is "interpreted"?
> Andy
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