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Re: [xmca] Trying to stop the strands from unravelling

On Sat, Apr 24, 2010 at 3:08 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>wrote:

> Yukyeong and I feel Carol's pain.One of the perennial questions on the
> Civil Service exam for teachers here in Korea is about the differences
> between Piaget and Vygotsky. The problem is that there is really no textbook
> at all for this exam, and very few sources available in Korean. So most of
> my poor undergrads rely on cramming books.
> The cramming books deliberately keep threads from developing, and
> "untangle" questions by unravelling every system into a set of PPTs followed
> by lists of mock exam questions, The clash of Titans is reduced to a Punch
> and Judy, "Piaget Made Easy" against "Vygotsky for Dummies" (Piaget, you
> see, thought the child was a lonely explorer, and Vygotsky believed that you
> never walk alone. Now, Ausubel....)
> Yesterday Yukyeong asked me (for the millionth time) why, if Vygotsky was
> such a believer in the social child, he is so interested in DNA research
> (because he is always talking about genetics). I explained for the millionth
> time that the word "genetic" does not mean the Korean word that is used to
> mistranslate it in the cramming books, but instead means, variously,
> phylogenetic evolution, sociogenetic history, ontogenetic development, and
> even microgenetic learning. But not even phylogenetic evolution is well
> described as a struggle between selfish genes manipulating organisms as
> their avatar proxies, because evolution is as much about exaptation as about
> adaptation.
> Yukyeong's eyes light up, but only briefly. Here, you see, it says that
> Piaget is a structuralist. But isn't he a constructivist? And isn't Vygotsky
> a structuralist and a constructivist too? We put down the cramming book
> lists and turn to Vygotsky, in our translation in progress. We notice that
> when Vygotsky uses the word "structural" in Thinking and Speech, the words
> "functional" and "genetic" are never very far away.
> Vygotsky and Piaget are simply not doing what Kuhn would call "normal
> science" where there is a shared paradigm. Kuhn would say they are in the
> prescientific era, where each school has its own set of tools, its own set
> of procedures, and consequently, and its own largely empirical
> and pre-theoretical model of the object of study, like the "electricians" of
> the eighteenth century who variously conceived of electricity as beam of
> light, as a stream of fluid, or as a degringolade of material corpuscles.
> I don't think Vygotsky is trying to synthesize the structural, functional
> and genetic approaches to the topic. So he's not a structuralist, or a
> functionalist, or even a geneticist (and he's actually quite hard on
> Piaget's whole genetic approach). But he's not an eclectic either. Vygotsky
> wants to see if there is any common object of study there and then work out
> the best method of study based on what that common object of study is and
> what the specific problem we have to solve might be.
> If an automobile (or a mind) really is a bunch of parts (but not just a
> bunch of parts), a means of performing a set of functions (but not reducible
> to these functions) or a modern invention (but not simply a clever
> invention) then there is something there we can study, and we can work out
> the best procedures for studying it according to the specific problems we
> want to study.
> Wertsch is interested in pole vaulting (in "Mind as Action") or at least in
> using pole vaulting as an example. So it makes sense for him to distinguish
> between mastery and conscious awareness, and even for him to reject the
> whole idea of "internalization". It doesn't seem very useful for a pole
> vaulter to be consciously aware of what he is doing, or to "internalize" the
> difference between a bamboo pole and a fiberglass or carbon-fibre one, and
> it makes sense to talk about the vaulter "appropriating" a new pole and a
> new skill.
> But the specific problems I want to study all have to do with language. To
> seize conscious awareness of language is to be able to modify a sentence at
> absolutely any point (as I am doing when I write this). The way in which I
> master this ability is to become conscious (and only then oblivious) of
> rules, that is, to internalize them and then to become myself internal to
> them (I think when we speak of internalization it really makes more sense to
> think of inside a family, a community, or a city rather than inside a body
> or a brain).
> So I think that for the specific problems I want to research there is no
> point in distinguishing between conscious awareness and mastery, or
> rejecting internalization for appropriation, or even privileging object
> oriented activity over activities which are much less obviously object
> directed, e.g. daily conversation, foreign language learning, child
> development, and language change.
> I think that MCA and xmca are very different, and I am always sorry but not
> really surprised when told by reviewers that I can be a peer in one but not
> the other. I like to think of myself as primarily a researcher and only
> secondarily a kvetch, but my record says otherwise.
> Any sailor will tell you that their are two methods to keep ropes from
> unraveling. In the first, you braid the loose ends of the rope into the
> loose ends of another rope and you keep going. In the second, you cover the
> loose ends with tar or hot wax, or else, if it's one of those new plastic
> ropes, you just take out your lighter and melt it. I think xmca tends to
> privilege the first method, and MCA tends to privilege the second.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> --- On *Sat, 4/24/10, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>* wrote:
> From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Trying to stop the strands from unravelling
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> Date: Saturday, April 24, 2010, 9:57 AM
> Carol--- I learn from xmca discussions mostly because they are NOT referred
> journal articles, but reflections up, extensions of, musings about, ideas
> that appear after having been peer reviewed. And as we have often seen,
> members of xmca are not always enamored of the judgments of the reviewers
> and editors!!
> The relation of "metacognition" to other concepts that refer generally to
> thinking about thinking (and thinking about thinking-as-action and perhaps
> thinking about thinking also as action?) seems quite worthwhile. You did
> not
> use the term, reflexivity, but that seems relevant as well, along with
> other
> terms.
> David Kel, was your use of mastery related to jim w's distinction between
> mastery and internalization?
> mike
> On Sat, Apr 24, 2010 at 7:30 AM, Carol Macdonald <carolmacdon@gmail.com<http://us.mc1103.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=carolmacdon@gmail.com>
> >wrote:
> > Hi guys
> >
> > Since I have been underemployed for a while I have been able to pay
> > reasonable attention to the very interesting recent postings.
> >
> > What concerns me is the fact that one or more conversations land up with
> > concepts that are not really CHAT concepts, while on another conversation
> > people have been trying to build up further theory on the nature of the
> > (including Bakhtin, dialogicality, intersubjectivity etc) and the nature
> of
> > concepts in chapters 5 & 6 of LSV.
> >
> > First we have the introduction of concepts such as *metacognition* (this
> > was
> > Nancy in late March).  I wrote about the unviability of teaching thinking
> > skills a while back, so I thought I might be of help bringing this
> > essentially educational psychology concept up to date and tell XMCA why
> we
> > shouldn't use it.  To my dismay I found that there is now a whole journal
> > dedicated to metacognition and learning, and looking at a few articles,
> it
> > is clear that the concept has been diluted and confused, especially when
> > compared with the original version Flavell laid out. So I decided to not
> > regale my conversation partners with my view and wish here only to point
> > out
> > that metacognition is *not* a CHAT concept, and to make a plea to guard
> > against unwelcome intruders. So far so god.
> >
> > Then we have more recently *conscious awareness* and *mastery* described
> in
> > a nontechnical situation.  David K, in his ever constructive self,
> > immediately tried to incorporate them. I do not have such a problem
> > with *mastery
> > *as Jim Wertsch wrote about it in 1998 in *Mind in Action* and I have
> used
> > this in educational analysis. (Jim says its LSV, San Diego). However, it
> is
> > essentially a characteristic of the individual. It is necessary but not
> > sufficient for *appropriation.*
> >
> > Ironically *conscious awareness *is quite close to aspects of
> > metacognition,
> > but if I am right, it is essentially a characteristic of the individual,
> > and
> > I would want to know how it fits into our currently received analysis of
> > the
> > ZPD (on the file serve). Maybe we can talk about the teacher and the
> > learner
> > both having conscious awareness, but they would have to be brought into
> > some
> > relation because they would be different for the two. How does it relate
> to
> > potential and real concepts, or is this another conversation?
> >
> > I either need some help here, since I can't integrate this/these, maybe
> > they
> > can't be, or to be told to stop fussing. Mike might tell me that we are
> not
> > writing journal articles here, but I really  do learn from following the
> > discussions.
> >
> > Timid thanks in advance
> > Carol
> >
> > --
> > Visiting Researcher
> > Wits School of Education
> > 6 Andover Road
> > Westdene
> > Johannesburg 2092
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> >
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