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[xmca] moral responsibility and critical education [was ism vs ist]

Troubling people's beliefs, esp. basic one's about what's real, what's valuable, what's right, how certain knowledge is or can be, etc. is, for me, a primary purpose of education. It is a step along the process of encouraging and empowering critical thinking -- that is, thinking which looks at things from more than one point of view and considers what is gained and lost thereby.

But it is just one step, and if it is taken as simply an end in itself, that that can be oppressive and morally irresponsible. You may know the Socratic tradition of the elenchos, which more or less means that Socrates gets you all confused about what you thought you knew, and then he can begin to have a real dialogue with you in which you both come to new conclusions. Of course that's not really what we see in the Dialogues, but it was the theory, the ideal.

There has to be a moral and personal commitment by a teacher to a student to stand by them through the period of discomfort and disorientation, and to help and support them as they come to find some new footing. That is missing in our professionalized model of education, schools, and the teacher-student relationship. It results in something closer to indoctrination, however well-intended. It makes it impossible to morally project a longer-term serious education, because teachers aren't supposed to have long term, personal commitments to students. It gives us labor training, not education.

I'm truncating the history at this point to just the recent postings below.


Jay Lemke
Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
Educational Studies
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Visiting Scholar
Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition
University of California -- San Diego
La Jolla, CA
USA 92093

On Apr 13, 2010, at 6:54 AM, Larry Purss wrote:

> Hi Dot
> I just wanted to support your bringing back this thread and trying to make it into a "fabric".  
> Constructivism as a mental construction, and constructionism as socially grounded seems to be a fundamental difference to be debated.
> Adding "culturally mediated artifacts" as foundational adds another level of complexity.
> Then we add the notions of "complexity theory" [dynamic systems theory] to the mix and our  place in the cosmos gets interesting.
> I would like to invite others to take up this question with the notion of "ontology" or "becoming" and the moral vision and ethical position grounding these various theories and especially the place of RESPONSIBILITY in each discourse. Responsibility, [and its notions of agency, morality, intentionality,] have a different location within each discourse. My vote is to explore the ontology of "ego-alter" where "BETWEEN" in the "I-THOU relation is elaborated.
> Authors who have engaged with these themes are Varela, Derrida, Levinas, and Martin Packer. {Martin, I hope you don't mind me putting you in this company]
> The article by Nancy Lesko I mentioned in an earlier post is an excellent example to debate these issues.  From her poststructuralist position it is a "GOOD" to consciously "trouble" and "disrupt" and create existential angst and soul searching.  When I read this article I had a sense of of oppression and dominance of a poststructialist view challenging ALL viewpoints for their underlying assumptions.
> In this pedagogical approach "uncertainty" was the ideal but in reality it caused the doctoral students to become monstrously disoriented.
> IS THERE A BETTER WAY to invite others to engage and delight in uncertainty through creating RESPONSIBLE zopeds where self and other are both RECOGNIZED and RESPONDED to in communities of inquiry that are not always CHALLENGING, TROUBLING, and DISRUPTING, in their pursuit of social justice and equality.
> Now I know this stance will be seen as sentimental and that all knowing requires STRUGGLE and CONFRONTATION but from a place of RESPONSIBILITY who gets to decide what OUGHT TO BE [BECOMING]
> I still want to bring in Rod Parker's notion of recognition as "bringing other to body" as more accurate than "bring other to mind" but I hope Rod will respond and open up another post.  RECOGNITION is more than knowledge and epistemology and has its own moral assumptions.
> Larry
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Dot Robbins <drobbins72000@yahoo.com>
> Date: Sunday, April 11, 2010 7:12 pm
> Subject: Re: [xmca] (ism) v (ist)
> To: Jenna McWilliams <jenmcwil@umail.iu.edu>, Culture ActivityeXtended Mind <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> Cc: Culture ActivityeXtended Mind <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> Dear Jenna and All,
>> Realizing that this discussion is no longer going on, I just 
>> wanted to thank you, Jenna, for your 
>> comments...Constructivism/Constructionism is a very important 
>> discussion internationally, for many reasons, especially in the 
>> West. The good news for many of you is that you can delete this 
>> message now, if not interested. I have attached my thoughts on 
>> this topic, but they were written many years ago....Perhaps the 
>> notes are not totally correct, or valid today...it was long 
>> ago....what is very important is the situation some face about 
>> *rigour*......We need to be clear about comparing apples and 
>> oranges.....Mike's note was very important for me, listed 
>> below..... The aspects of cultural mediation are so important, 
>> and also the aspect of the process of development. We need a 
>> historical clarification of the times of Vygotsky-Luria-Leontiev 
>> regarding their use/or none-use of research data in their 
>> writings (what was the actual political situation of using
>> statistical data in those days? I have read about this 
>> problem, but cannot comment on it now)....
>> Debates about *rigour* need to be placed in context, as we do 
>> not compare apples with oranges…I am also attaching our 
>> introduction to the Davydov book about the understanding of “non-
>> classical” psychology….it leads to the understanding of 
>> “metacognition,” which is a key component in dialogues with 
>> many, including those in “traditional” cognitivist fields….I 
>> will restrain my thoughts to Chomsky here….we need to have a 
>> grounded understanding of Spinoza, inter alia, to understand 
>> cultural-historical theory, and we also need to know the deep 
>> theories/and times of Descartes….So, I will stop 
>> here….Hopefully, others will help us, especially our colleagues 
>> in Brazil.....
>> With very good wishes of Spring to all,
>> Dot
>> --- On Fri, 4/9/10, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>> From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] (ism) v (ist)
>> To: "Jenna McWilliams" <jenmcwil@umail.iu.edu>
>> Cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> Date: Friday, April 9, 2010, 12:52 PM
>> Debating *rigour  *with respect to such a question*?
>> *My advice is to take a good novel to read when caught in such
>> circumstances. Rigourous with respect to what?
>> Is a psychological experiment  about number calculation 
>> procesess more
>> rigorous than an ethnogrpahic account
>> of "the same" topic (I almost slipped and wrote phenomenon!).
>> My guess vis a  vis my own question? Piagetian social 
>> constructivism saw
>> culture as ailement for the mind that varied along a scale from 
>> less to more
>> (never considered obesity, i guess). Vygotskian cultural-historical
>> psycholoy places cultural mediation in the center of the 
>> process, making all
>> Piageian binaries into fuzzy trinaries for which it is always
>> necessary to rise to the concrete. Of course one person's 
>> concrete is
>> another's  "whaaat" but at least they are
>> trying to understand each other within a more or less mutually 
>> recognizablepoint of view.  Constructionism includes cultural 
>> practices, making things.
>> But it does not theorize them in chat terms.
>> mike

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