I am curious Andy, do you believe the Ideal to be factual or is it based
*Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org>*
Sent by: email@example.com
03/02/2010 06:17 AM
Please respond to ablunden; Please respond to "eXtended Mind, Culture,
To: Rod Parker-Rees <R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk>
cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [xmca] new national curriculum in Australia
I really don't know the answer to this, Rod. I am just
exploring, but in that spirit ...
All teachers and probably all children like it best when the
kids are just doing what they like doing, and of course they
acquire competency and confidence if they learn like this.
That's all nice and cosy. Ever since some time in the 1960s
it has been near impossible to teach any other way (in many
countries) in any case, because teachers can no longer
exercise fearful authority or even respect ...
But how does one grasp the Holy Trinity, or Saggitarian
personalities, Iconic representation or Nonalgebraic
equations, ... or any of these concepts which belong to
systems of activity and concepts which are foreign to the
day to day life of children?
And if children just quietly accept the Holy Trinity without
noticing that it is a concept based on Original Sin and the
sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, which is not really
factual ... is this a good thing?
Is there anything to learn at school? Or can we all just
absorb everything we need to know without really trying? Are
we all natural born masters?
I have in mind the material Chapter 5 of "Thinking and
Speech." Vygotsky seems to think that learning concepts
which are foreign to a child's day-to-day life is a
completely different process from what happens when a child
generalising from their own experience. It is only when the
two processes meet that genuine understanding is possible.
But if we shy away from teaching concepts, what is the result?
Rod Parker-Rees wrote:
> I would be opposed to JUST teaching the rules of mathematics or art
(using the 'right' colours) AS rules before children have had a chance
to do some groundwork on building up spontaneous concepts through
immersion in a cultural environment in which people do the things that
people do with maths and art.
> I think John Holt once argued that if we taught children to talk in
the same way that we teach them to read we would have many more elective
mutes and children with speech delays. I am not thinking so much about
the later stages of education but I think it is pretty clear that in the
early years children benefit more from adults who follow and expand on
their attention than from those who try to switch their attention to
desirable, high value learning (like teachers who have to turn every
form of play towards counting, naming shapes and colours etc.). Children
are taught from very early on to associate learning with WORK - with all
the affective baggage that goes with that. I often hear students saying
how wonderful it is when children are learning 'without even knowing
that they are learning', partly because sneaking stuff in under the
radar is seen as a way of bypassing the 'work = boring and difficult'
associations which children are assumed to have developed.
> I do think there is a time and a place for teaching but I am not
convinced that children always experience their teaching at appropriate
times or in appropriate places!
> All the best,
> From: email@example.com [firstname.lastname@example.org] On
Behalf Of Andy Blunden [email@example.com]
> Sent: 02 March 2010 09:42
> Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] new national curriculum in Australia
> So on that basis, Rod, you would also be opposed to the
> teaching of mathematics, and for that matter, art, unless
> the child was planning a career in a genuinely relevant
> profession, such as maths teacher or art teacher. :)
> Rod Parker-Rees wrote:
>> I think there is a big affective difference between the way we learn
first languages (or multiple mother, father and grandmother tongues) and
the way we learn studied languages. I was taught French all through
school but learned Italian by spending the best part of a year in Italy
and i am conscious of differences in HOW I know each of these languages
(and English). I have more of a feel for whether or not something sounds
right in Italian but I know I know a lot more about the workings of
>> I wonder how useful it is to teach grammar, as a formal system of
rules, to children who are still picking up on the 'feel' of their
language. I still think that reading well written prose is probably the
best way to develop this feel (picking up a set of 'intuitive' patterns
about 'the done thing' or 'what people do, as a rule') but of course
this helps to develop a 'gut feeling' about the grammar of WRITTEN
language - we also need plenty of exposure to different styles of spoken
language so that we can develop sensitivities to what works when and
with whom (I never had much time for those primary schools which
insisted that children must only be exposed to one, 'correct' way of
forming letters - one font - for fear of confusing them!).
>> The time for learning about conventional rules AS rules may be when
we start to ask questions about why some people say it this way and some
say it that way. We know from studies of language acquisition that a
huge amount of time can be wasted on trying to condition children to
follow a rule which they have not yet noticed.
>> All the best,
>> From: firstname.lastname@example.org [email@example.com] On
Behalf Of Andy Blunden [firstname.lastname@example.org]
>> Sent: 02 March 2010 02:21
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [xmca] new national curriculum in Australia
>> Our immensely incompetent Labor Government yesterday
>> announced their new national curriculum for schools
>> (formerly this was a state responsibility).
>> It features the teaching of history from the very beginning,
>> including indigenous history (this is an unambiguous good)
>> and emphasises the 3 Rs, including grammar. No curriculum
>> has been set yet in Geography and other subjects.
>> Helen raised with me off-line this problem of reintroducing
>> the teaching of grammar: who is going to educate the
>> educators? Anyone under 55 today did not learn grammar at
>> school or until they did a foreign language, when they
>> learnt the grammar of the other language. (Grammar means
>> "Which icon do I click now?")
>> What do xmca-ers think about teaching grammar? (I am in favour.)
>> Also, many progressive educators here are opposed to
>> curricula in toto: education should be about learning not
>> content. Do xmca-ers agree?
>> Given the disastrous implementation of policies by this
>> government over the past 2 years, I fear for our education
>> system. What do people think?
>> Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
>> Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
>> Ilyenkov $20 ea
>> xmca mailing list
> Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
> Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
> Ilyenkov $20 ea
> xmca mailing list
Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov $20 ea
xmca mailing list