RE: [xmca] Sumerian school pic

From: Peter Smagorinsky <smago who-is-at>
Date: Thu Dec 11 2008 - 03:35:24 PST

Great stuff Andy, thanks for sharing. I used the attached picture from my
Aunt Alice's Brooklyn elementary school classroom on the cover of The
Discourse of Character Education. From the early 1920s.

Peter, when I worked as Teaching Space Coordinator at
Melbourne University, I collected the following set:
from Sumeria to 1979, and for now:
Peter Smagorinsky wrote:
> I first saw Mike use the Sumerian classroom slide a few years ago at a
> conference in Miami, and he has been kind enough to share it. I've used it
> several times to make the point that Mike originally made: that the
> traditions of schooling run very deep. I used it at ISCAR, and the text
> the talk included the observation that while desks are no longer made of
> stone and rarely are bolted to the floor anymore, they still tend to sit
> the same formation as they did 6,000 years ago. The irony: In the USCD
> classroom in which I gave the talk, the seats were indeed bolted to the
> floor.
> To give a sense of just how old the Sumerian classroom is, I put together
> the following. It still boggles my mind:
> In his consideration of the developmental consequences of education, Cole
> (2005) takes a cross-cultural and historical perspective that leads him
> to the earliest classrooms of Indo-European civilization. Based on the
> arrangement of a Sumerian classroom from roughly 4,000 BCE, he surmises
> the last 6,000 years have seen great continuity in educational practice in
> number of regards (see Figure 1.1; reprinted from Cole, 2005, p. 200). As
> the photograph reveals, students sat in rows-here, fixed in stone-possibly
> chiseling notes in a proto-cuneiform script and undoubtedly facing the
> teacher. This template, in spite of other developments in teaching
> has served to guide instruction in most Western educational settings from
> (at least) the Uruk period of Sumerian civilization through the present.
> ________________________
> Place Figure 1.1 about here
> ________________________
> This classroom was built toward the end of the Stone Age, as the Neolithic
> Period was about to give way to the Bronze Age. Students occupied its
> 1,400 years before the legendary King Gilgamesh is believed to have ruled
> the land; 2,300 years before Hammurabi founded the city of Babylon and
> the first code of law; and 3,400 years before Nebuchadnezzar II is
> to have built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It is as old as the idea of
> formal teaching and learning in the history of human social life.
> (this is from the first draft of a book chapter I'm developing, so please
> reference to this message if you borrow the phrasing)
> Sorry I forgot to attach this to message in response to Paul.
> The earliest known classroom in the "western" world.
> mike
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Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435 
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Received on Thu Dec 11 03:36:54 2008

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