[xmca] dynamics of learning and development

From: <ERIC.RAMBERG who-is-at spps.org>
Date: Thu Nov 29 2007 - 05:14:11 PST

In my personal quest for understanding on this subject I keep returning to
the grand text of the "Psychology of Literacy by Scribner and Cole. I have
the 1999 reprint. The importance this text plays for me is I see it as a
culmination of the many ethnographic studies undertaken to understand
cognition in context. It has help me greatly in my understanding of
working with the students who attend my school with their varying degrees
of disabilities. I submit quotations from Chapter 14 for your

"In this book we have made a seemingly relentless descent from the general
to the specific. We began with grand and ancient speculation about the
impact of literacy on history, on philosophy, and on the minds of
individual human beings; we ended with details of experiments on mundane,
everyday activities that would, under other circumstances, probably escape
our notice or our interest. Instead of generalized changes in cognitive
ability, we found localized changes in cognitive skills manifested in
relatively esoteric settings. Instead of qualitative changes in a person's
orientation to language, we found differences in selected features of
speech and communication. . . .we believe it is important that we have
identified skills that are associated literacy learning. . .To give a
satisfactory account of the nature and significance of the differences we
found-and failed to find-we would need to draw on some well-specified
theory of cognition. . .no such theory was at hand. Within anthropology
and sociology, we encounter theories of the "Great Divide" variety. . .a
dominant trend is to consider cultural inventions, such as literacy, as
unrelated to basic processes of intellectual development; literacy may
influence how society does its work but not the structures of mental
operations (piagetian theory). we made progress in finding terms more
suitable for specifying culture-cognition relationships than the antimonies
offered by existing theory. . . We call this framework a "practice account
of literacy" to emphasize that it is neither a formal model nor a grand
theory but a preliminary attempt to bring new question to our enterprises."

any thoughts?

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Received on Thu Nov 29 05:15 PST 2007

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