RE: [xmca] Sumerian school pic

From: Peter Smagorinsky <smago who-is-at>
Date: Thu Dec 11 2008 - 12:19:58 PST

It depends on the correct date. I had 4000BCE but the date at Andy's website
is 2000BCE. Mike, do you know the correct attribution? p

Peter Smagorinsky
The University of Georgia
125 Aderhold Hall
Athens, GA 30602

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of David Preiss
Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2008 12:28 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Sumerian school pic

So, Peter, is this formal arrangement previous to the use of writing?
That would be really interesting.

On Dec 11, 2008, at 8:13 AM, 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 several times to make the point that Mike originally made: that the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 for
> 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 in
> 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 back
> to the earliest classrooms of Indo-European civilization. Based on the
> arrangement of a Sumerian classroom from roughly 4,000 BCE, he
> surmises that
> the last 6,000 years have seen great continuity in educational
> practice in a
> 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
> practice,
> 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 seats
> 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 wrote
> the first code of law; and 3,400 years before Nebuchadnezzar II is
> believed
> 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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> xmca mailing list

David Preiss, Ph.D.
Subdirector de Extensión y Comunicaciones
Escuela de Psicología
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
Av Vicuña Mackenna - 4860
7820436 Macul
Santiago, Chile

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Received on Thu Dec 11 12:20:55 2008

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