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Re: [xmca] Re: Human Sciences Scholar life?

Thank you for that, Mike. Cause for reflection.
For those that are interested, a movie of my pubic lecture at Johannesburg, :Is Science a Humanity?", is now available on vimeo, and touches on relevant issues. It will not be part of the CHAT group on vimeo as it is too far removed from the Vygotskyan legacy: http://vimeo.com/21865268


mike cole wrote:
I would like to take this conversation back to Wagner's earlier request for
information about how we, at LCHC, are trying to organize our work so that
graduate students can deal strategically with the rapidly changing
ideological, political, and economic times.

Please note that our discussion is oriented toward the young members of LCHC
including the many undergraduates who we work with in practicum courses
where we can get to know them well enough to be intelligent interlocutors.
The issues are necessarily different for people at different stages of their
careers, never mind in different national settings.

LCHC is at UCSD, a research university with a long tradition of high levels
of government and industrial financial support. The social sciences and
humanities in general are seen as a special "problem" because they do not
bring in big bucks, relatively speaking (some parts of our Social Science
division, which includes psychology, economics, and cognitive science do
bring in substantial outside research monies).

Within UCSD, LCHC is one of those odd, hybrid organizations that focuses
both on community-based research and undergradute education, two largely
neglected concerns, academically speaking. We make our way by virtue of past
accomplishments and the fact that the University is in desperate need of
help in dealing with issues of class and ethnic diversity, which we also do.

So if you are a graduate student associated with the laboratory, I give the
following advice: Prepare yourself for at least three identities associated
with three domains (perhaps the term, markets, would not be inappropriate)
where you can be paid to do something that you would not mind doing and
allow you some way to retain the resources (time) for academic inquiry.

Which three selves the students pick depends upon their special funds of
knowledge and personal goals. Knowledge of a foreign language, knowledge of
contemporary computer programming at a graduate student level, knowledge of
film making, etc.
Each of these selves emerges pari parsu with the long term goals that each
student formulates.

We are systematically seeking partnerships which can serve both as sources
of support and potential future career goals of the students. As is obvious,
we network.

Beyond this point, its all pretty local in making the appropriate
experiences available.

A word about the present situation. This is not the first time in my
lifetime that academia and the national economy and world peace have face
very difficult times.
Bad news can aggregate, like storm clouds, that may or may not blow away.
Hard to tell.

I find it amazing, in this connection to consider the life work of my cohort
of scholars in Russia, never mind the conditions under which their parents
lived and died. Think about an 80 year old Russian academic who attended
Moscow University when Stalin was in power and published his first article
the year that Khruchev denounced Stalin.

In both cases, what has never ceased to amaze me is the generativity of
their theoretical commitments and methodological power under extraordinarily
difficult circumstances. They found ways, wherever they could find work, to
continue a humanistic tradition of practice-based thought no matter how
unwelcoming the soil for the seeds they wish to propagate.

ISCAR, along with XMCA, seems like an organization that is quite sympathetic
to confronting seriously the difficult circumstances our students face.
There is a meeting of ISCAR coming up in September and, well, here we are on

Do other more senior people on the list have different/better advice to
profer? As I said, so much depends upon the local, generalization tends to
be useless for those under the gun.


On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 5:10 PM, elizabeth anne daigle <
elizabethdaigle@yahoo.com> wrote:

How does the ennui of academia compare to the experiences of public school

This NYTimes debate comes from the recent report that suggests the US would
well to improve the status of the profession of teaching.

the report:


the online debate at nytimes:


Potentially, this is an arena for these discussions of the roles of
schools/schooling, the value of "value added models" of quantifying teacher
efficacy, the differences(and intrinsic relations) between
thinking/knowing/understanding/asking...  In so many ways, it seems like
should be the time in the US for these thoughtful conversations.

.....the readers' comments are like roadkill--- fascinating and disturbing.

There's something cultural about valuing learning as distinct from having
Is it that the commodification of knowledge makes teaching merely a
vehicle, and
thus not worthy of respect?

And its economic inefficiency is an affront to this model of what is
making it somehow threatening in its continued centrality in socialization?

I was thrilled to see this report come out and naively thought, "Yeah- NOW
Man will finally see!!!"
...as my mother says, "It must be hard to see with his head where it is."

   1. Re: Human Sciences Scholar life? (Jenna McWilliams)
  2. Re: lsv "sketching the future" -- From tool and sign?
      (Larry Purss)
  3. Re: Culture of Poverty, not reduxed enough (ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org)


Message: 1
Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2011 18:25:27 -0400
From: Jenna McWilliams <jennamcjenna@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Human Sciences Scholar life?
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Message-ID: <3D8476E0-DC34-49AC-AEF3-67DC69DB6DD5@gmail.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed; delsp=yes

Google "Tihomir Petrov AND urinate" and you'll fetch 8,500 results,
which is more than 100 times the number of Google Scholar results
attached to Petrov (73). And Peter, I do think Petrov may have had a
broader (alleged) impact on his students and his field through his
(alleged) actions than through his scholarly publications.

Recently, a disaffected fellow graduate student told me she wished
someone had informed her of the high attrition rate for Ph.D. students
before she decided to pursue graduate study. My response: Someone
probably did tell her. Someone certainly told me--many people told me--
about the long, grim path of academia. We don't listen because of one
very human characteristic: We think we're special. We think: it must
be so sad for those students who do drop out before finishing their
dissertations, for those academics who can't find jobs, for those
scholars who can't figure out how to balance their priorities.

Hey, at least I'm having a really good time in my toils toward
obscurity. To borrow a line, I get to visit exotic locales (like
Scottsdale and Indianapolis!), meet interesting people (like Mike Cole
and Jay Lemke!) and...well, never mind the rest.


Jenna McWilliams
Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University


On Mar 27, 2011, at 12:00 PM, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:

Here's one way to make an impact:

* The Feral Professor:  Tihomir Petrov, 43, a mathematics professor
at California State University Northridge, was charged in January
with misdemeanors for allegedly urinating twice on the office door
of a colleague with whom he had been feuding.  (Petrov was
identified by a hidden camera installed after the original puddles
turned up.)  Petrov is the author of several scholarly papers, with
titles such as "Rationality of Moduli of Elliptic Fibrations With
Fixed Monodromy." [Los Angeles Daily News-AP, 1-27-2011]

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-
bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Wagner Schmit
Sent: Saturday, March 26, 2011 5:32 PM
To: lchcmike@gmail.com
Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Human Sciences Scholar life?

Another video, this time "Simpsons" view of Grad Students



On Sat, Mar 26, 2011 at 6:29 PM, Wagner Schmit <mcfion@gmail.com>

I'm a freshman in academic life... pursuing a PhD and already
working as
temporary teacher at University and College. The only thing that
makes me
still pursue an academic life is that i try to make my students
think  about
the impact of their work in other peoples lifes, and that, i hope, my
research will bring something that may help people in their school

But it is hard, no time to read, no time to write (the coordinator
of our
research group always says "you need to publish"), all "free" time
i have is
dedicated to prepare classes and supervision of  trainees. No
no holiday, no vacation and a very low payment (my students in the
college i work have a better income than me).

But what worries me  most: who really reads what we publish? I see
ideas in
the educational field pointed as "innovation", but they were already
presented by people like Dewey and Vygotsky decades ago... One of my
students, after a meeting with pedagogues of a high school, pointed
out that
"all we listen and see is just common sense, where are the
application of
all those researches you pointed? where are the educational

I point out that one of the works of Psychologists in School (since
i give
classes to future psychologists) is to rethink school along side
with the
school community (teachers, administration, parents, students)...
This helps
articulate science and real life, but only in a punctual way (in
the daily
life in school)...

What about academic life? what can we do to change it? Or, should
it be
changed? Where are the academic debates, innovation and
contribution to

Those things make me sleepless sometimes

Wagner Luiz Schmit
Londrina State University - Brazil

On Sat, Mar 26, 2011 at 5:45 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>

I think all of us recognize this scene, Wagner.

At LCHC we are discussing these issues. "We" includes grad students,
old people like me. We are lucky that the interpersonal alienation
is lower than that depicted (although it is in abundant profusion
those around us). But difficulties for grad students contemplating
making a
living in academia are pretty grim, especially outside of the
"non-ideological" areas of science and technology (where a
different set of
alienating circumstances are plentiful).

We have no great revelations but we are grateful that we have
adopted an
intellectual stance that makes the study of human life in cultural
our grounding. we are trying to work that into an implementable
strategy for
surviving graduate school and gaining acceptable employment.

What are others doing? What more might we be doing collectively?
End of xmca Digest, Vol 70, Issue 28


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