RE: [xmca] more questions about Sawchuk and Stetsenko article: whose sociology???

From: White, Phillip <Phillip.White who-is-at>
Date: Tue Dec 09 2008 - 15:38:15 PST

hey, Jennifer - Graham Nuthall (australian, now dead) did a great deal of work exactly is your area of interest - not necessarily in regards to math - but interested in the classroom as a social activity and how to trace learning over time - he ended up in one case attaching a mike to every student and teacher for a year within one setting - you can imagine the indepth research he moved into - and traced learning for each student over time.

and of course, like you, he noticed that what the students were expert in doing - i.e., appropriating the tools, rules and community of the classroom for their own purposes, rather than being 'compliant bodies' (Foucault) and following the teacher's directions - is congruent with the activites you pointed out
other kids were resistant to the activity altogether, or were using
the classroom resources for other non-mathematical functions, such as
to dominate the small group by keeping the worksheet away from the
other students, or to write all the names of the group members on the
worksheet in an effort to end the task before they were supposed to,
and so on. This made me think of the more positional aspects of
mediation of cultural forms. And it also made me think that a much
richer ethnography of the classroom would be needed in order to
capture how these available positions were constructed and taken up by

   when working with Holland's work on figured worlds, i always remember a colleague's comment (Honorine Nocon) that what really stands out are the 'innovations' within activities. and that these innovations emerge because there are multiple goals / often conflicting (Bateson, Engestom). and human systems are unpredictable.

     as a classroom teacher (elementary school through university) like you "I use a figured worlds framework (Dorothy Holland) in order to capture the construction of the classroom as a
social cultural space, including the figured identities available, and
then apply this expanded form-function framework to closely analyze
how students use the classroom artifacts to construct trajectories of
mathematical learning and identities of learners of mathematics."

but i use her metaphor as a way of attempting to first move into the students' world and became a participant of their work & world, rather than attempting to get them to become part of my firgured world. it's trickier, replete with multiple tensions and are often irresolvable (Wertsch), but i'm not the center of the universe. and schools as institutions and their full participants often operate as if they were the center of the universe. (though, in defense of schools, all institutions operate as if they were the center of the universe. par example, Helena's example of teachers teaching out of the trunks of their cars, placed in that position by instititional priorities.)

i'm guessing that you're also familiar with Jean Lave - isn't she just around the corner? - and that while she doesn't explicitly say so, i think it can be extrapolated that within activities and peripheral practices (like how high school students organize themselves within socio-demographic practices within the 'public spaces' of school, beyond the administration's 'gaze' (Foucault, again), very often for the students these spaces are of greater importance than what's happening within the classroom. (Penny Eckart's Jock's, Burnouts, etc.)

anyway - your disseration sounds quite fascinating. enjoy!!!


Phillip White, PhD
University of Colorado Denver
School of Education
xmca mailing list
Received on Tue Dec 9 15:39:56 2008

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