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RE: [xmca] new national curriculum in Australia

Em, Steve, Andy, and even Mike...
Wittgenstein talks about how meaning something looks like going up to someone and touching them on the shoulder. He also says, in the famous passage of "Philosophical Investigations" devoted to "language games", that we have to LOOK at games and SEE family resemblances instead of thinking about them.
So take a look at this. The data is fictionalized, but not that much.
T: The objective of today's lesson is self-introduction. We're going to learn about how to give our names and get other people's names when we meet for the first time. (going up to a child) Hi, there!
S: Hi.
T: I'm Mr. Kim. And you?
S: Sujeong.
T: Hi, Sujeong. And her?
S: Inkyeong.
T: Hi, Inkyeong...
T: That's all for today. Today we learned about giving and getting names. Tomorrow we'll learn more about self-introductions.
Now, if you put this on your word processing program and you block it off and "center" it instead of having it all crammed up against the left hand margin, you will get a good VISUAL (and microgenetic) representation of the points I'm going to make (about ontogenesis).
It has a long sentence at the top and another long one at the bottom and it's slim and narrow in between, like a capital "I" or maybe an underlined "T".
Of course, some teachers have a "wine glass" shape. That is, the teacher and the kids take pretty long turns at the beginning of the class and then there's a lot of short and fast back and forth in the middle, and then there's something long at the very end, like the base of a wine glass. And other teachers are "hour glass" shaped, with a buxom introduction and generous hips, but a narrow waist in the middle. (I myself, I'm afraid, am rather pear shaped). But in general, a lesson is shaped like the letter "X", fat on top and bottom and thin in the middle. (I've run a lot of statistics on this, and I can say it with some confidence.)
Why? Well, I think what is going on at the top of the lesson is the unpacking of complex words like "self-introduction" into simple words with complex grammar ("We're going to learn about how to get names and give our names when we meet for the first time").
But the teacher is teaching children. So the complex grammar also has to be deconstrued, and the way that is done is to render it "interpsychological", that is, social. (I don't really understand why Andy objects to this term; perhaps he can explain). In other words, just as complex morpology is re-expressed as complex syntax, complex syntax is re-expressed as complex discourse (the "waist" of the lesson). 
At the end of the lesson, there is the "inflowing of sense" that Vygotsky talks about. The word "self-introduction" absorbs all of the sense that the complex discourse released during the 'waist" of the lesson, and it becomes meaningful for the first time in the mind of the child, in much the same way that the word "Anna Karenina" or "Dead Souls" means very little except the picture on the cover of the book when you open it and turn to the first page, but it has absorbed all of the sense of the text when you turn the last page and put it back on the shelf.
Vygotsky believed that ontogenesis too is like this. At least in terms of the conscious processes that the child controls, education is a pair of deconstruals and reconstruals. 
First, the child understands grammar through taking it apart into discourse. Conditionals like "if you do that again, I'll smack you" are deconstrued as ungrammatical questions and answers, like "Who did that?" "Me". "Why?" "Well, I...ouch!", a process that is also highly observeable in classrooms when we break texts up by inserting interstitial questions bewteen sentences. 
Then the discourse is reconstrued as grammar. This reconstrual is what Vygotsky means by internalization: it's really in-"turn"-alization, you know. Vygotsky says quite explicitly that when he says "exernal" he really only means SOCIAL, and when turns are directed at the speaker himself, THAT is internalization.
That's the first step, and it's absolutely right that it has to be on the curriculum in elementary school. Vygotsky is absolutely clear on this, p. 205 of your Minick translation of Thinking and Speech. It reads like this (more or less) in Meccaci's somewhat better Italian translation:
"The problem of school instruction in grammar is one of the most complex problems from the point of view of methodology and psychology because grammar is a specific subject that seems of little necessity or utility to the child. Arithmetic brings to the child new capacities. The child is who is not capable of adding or dividing learns to odo so thanks to arithmetical knowledge. But grammar, it seems, does not give any new capacity to the child. Even before going to school, the child knows how to decline and how to conjugate. What does grammar instruction bring that is new? As we noted, it is on the basis of this judgment that the idea at the bottom of the movement against grammar concludes that grammar must be eliminated from the system of school subjects because of its uselessness, because it does not furnish any new capability in the field of language use that the child did not have before. Nevertheless the analysis of grammatical learning, like the
 analysis of written speech, suggests what an immense significance grammar has for the general development of child thinking."
I'll say! Actually, the reconstrual of complex discourse as complex grammar is almost the whole content of primary education. The child's main task is reconstruing talk as text and then re-reconstruing text as talk again. 
In the same way (I think) higher education is largely a process of re-reconstruing complex grammar as complex morphology (that is, as science concepts, which are, as a rule, morphologically complex). 
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education 
--- On Mon, 3/1/10, Duvall, Emily <emily@uidaho.edu> wrote:

From: Duvall, Emily <emily@uidaho.edu>
Subject: RE: [xmca] new national curriculum in Australia
To: ablunden@mira.net, "eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Monday, March 1, 2010, 10:09 PM

I've been out of the loop. Are we talking about scientific concepts?

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: Monday, March 01, 2010 8:45 PM
Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] new national curriculum in Australia

I had a real MacCarthyist fascist teacher in sixth grade 
primary school (1956) who belted gramar into our heads. I 
never forgot the grammar or stopped hated he who gave it to 
me. Progressive education put an end to all that in the late 
60s or early 70s I think.

But my interest is in the Davydov take on this. Let's assume 
that people don't need to learn grammar in order to use it 
effectively as a citizen, any more than they need Euclidean 
geometry. Isn't it the case that being required to think 
about how you compose language formally is an important part 
of acquiring that type of thinking that formal schooling is 
supposed to provide? It is like literacy plus. Here I get 
wires-crossed with Mike's questioning of formal schooling 
altogether, but Ah! what the hell?


Duvall, Emily wrote:
> Interesting about the grammar. 
> I had a father who was fanatical, so I think that lay the foundation
> me... he was always studying his German (later his Russian) and took
> language study, and grammar especially, quite seriously. One of my
> favorite books of his was (and still is) the Loom of Language... I
> became fascinated by the similarities. 
> At any rate, when we moved to Germany (I was 9) I encountered grammar
> an upfront way and it was really through the study of foreign language
> that I began to learn about grammar in a deep way. Now it is forever
> visible... :-)
> NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) members have some
> disagreement as to whether it should be taught explicitly or absorbed
> context. ATEG, the Assembly for Teaching of English Grammar has a
> monograph on the topic.   http://www.ateg.org/monographs/mulroy.php
> you go to the home page and play around you will find more links than
> you ever imagined on grammar.... :-)
> That said... for my money, grammar is best taught in short bursts when
> it is needed. Assess the individual's development... look at what they
> are closest to and work on that area... don't tackle what is
> but what is developing. A little formal, explicit teaching can really
> support what we have already acquired. 
> ~em
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
> On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
> Sent: Monday, March 01, 2010 6:21 PM
> 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.
> dlv.html
> 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
> Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
> Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, 
> Ilyenkov $20 ea
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca

Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, 
Ilyenkov $20 ea

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