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RE: [xmca] spontaneous concepts indeed
Thanks for your reply, Huw.
I've replied in CAPS, below.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Huw Lloyd
Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 9:25 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] spontaneous concepts indeed
On 26 April 2011 23:14, David H Kirshner <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Okay, I'm going to throw my 2 cents into the concepts ring.
> I'm sympathetic to those who've expressed skepticism about the utility of
> concept as an analytic construct.
> Nevertheless, I teach entire courses devoted to development of math
> concepts; I find the notion of concept indispensable to preparing effective
> mathematics educators. Instrumentally, what's relevant is concept
> development. We're always talking about how intuitive concepts can be
> transformed into more sophisticated concepts through certain kinds of
> experiences (either occurring spontaneously, or as orchestrated
In the context of self-directed/spontaneous learning intuition is a key
concern. Although coming to a scientific conceptual appre of intuition
entails quite a journey.
ALTHOUGH INTUITIONS ARISE SPONTANEOUSLY AS AN ADAPTATION OF AN INDIVIDUAL TO THEIR WORLD, THESE INTUITIVE UNDERSTANDINGS TURN OUT TO BE THE BASIC RESOURCES UPON WHICH ANY FURTHER CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT MUST BE BASED. THE ALMOST UNIVERSAL INEFFECTIVENESS OF ANY INSTRUCTION THAT ATTEMPTS TO GRAFT NEW CONCEPTS ON TOP OF EXISTING INTUITIONS IS A FIRMLY ESTABLISHED CONCLUSION FOR RESEARCH IN MATHEMATICS EDUCATION AND ESPECIALLY SCIENCE EDUCATION. FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF KIDS THAT "JOURNEY" TO MORE SOPHISTICATED UNDERSTANDINGS NEEDS TO BE ORCHESTRATED BY A TEACHER OPERATING WITH LOTS OF SPECIALIZED INSIGHT INTO TYPICAL DEVELOPMENTAL PATHS, AS WELL AS A DELICATE ABILITY TO USE THAT INSIGHT TO ENGAGE STUDENTS PRODUCTIVELY WITH THE LIMITATIONS OF THEIR CURRENT CONSTRUAL.
> Importantly, these experiences are theorized intramentally as involving
> feedback loops between expectations and results of actions. Piagetian
> notions of accommodation and assimilation come into play.
> My point isn't that sociocultural notions of concept as indexed to the
> culture are incorrect or unreasonable.
How about scientific concepts emerging in a scientific culture?
WHAT EMERGES IN A SCIENTIFIC CULTURE ARE SCIENTIFIC PRACTICES. NURTURING THE DEVELOPMENT OF SUCH PRACTICES REQUIRES A DIFFERENT KIND OF PEDAGOGICAL EXPERTISE, WORTHY OF ITS OWN THEORIZATION AND ITS OWN SPACE IN TEACHER EDUCATION. IN GENERAL, THE KINDS OF SCIENTIFIC PRACTICES IN WHICH WE ENGAGE STUDENTS DO INVOLVE PROJECTS AND CONVERSATIONS ORIENTED AROUND VALUED CONCEPTUAL CONTENT. A TYPICAL MISTAKE OF REFORM INSTRUCTION AIMING AT BOTH CULTURAL PRACTICES AND CONCEPTS IS TO ASSUME THAT THE EMBEDDING OF THIS CONCEPTUAL MATERIAL IN PRACTICES IS SUFFICIENT TO FACILITATE CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT. OF COURSE, FOR SOME STUDENTS IT IS. BUT FOR MANY STUDENTS THE RELATIVELY HAPHAZARD "CONCEPTUAL SPLATTER" WITHIN THESE CONVERSATIONS AND PROJECTS IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO LEAD TO CONCEPTUAL RESTRUCTURING. IT REQUIRES A MORE DIRECT PEDAGOGICAL INTERVENTION OF THE SORT DESCRIBED ABOVE. SO THE EFFECTIVE REFORM-ORIENTED TEACHER NEEDS TO COORDINATE WHAT ARE IN FACT SEPARATE (AND SOMETIMES COMPETING) PEDAGOGICAL PROGRAMS WITHIN THE INQUIRY CLASSROOM.
> Indeed, a comprehensive sociocultural psychology has to come to grips with
> concepts, eventually reconciling the divergent ontogenetic and sociogenetic
> perspectives. But after so many dozens of emails devoted to articulating
> this program, I thought it would be refreshing to offer an escape into
> paradigmatic divergence. "Concept," narrowly defined in intramental terms,
> is a really useful construct to inform the genre of teaching involving
> concept development. Reciprocally, a narrow sociocultural theorization of
> enculturation into the practices of a cultural community is invaluable for
> informing the pedagogical project of acquiring valued dispositions through
> cultural participation. It's the ever-roiling program of theoretical
> synthesis that's so darn problematic for purposes of informing educational
> As baseball legend Yogi Berra put it, "In theory there is no difference
> between theory and practice, but in practice there is." :)
I'm guessing he didn't use maps very often, or was subject to "teachers"
that didn't distinguish between the map and the territory. That's doesn't
sound like a very good theory, or model, which I guess was his point.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On
> Behalf Of Andy Blunden
> Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 8:29 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] spontaneous concepts indeed
> Temple, there is a little ambiguity in your question. When you talk
> about "concepts developing" can I presume you mean "can a person
> learn/master a scientific concept ...". I presume you are not actually
> asking about the formation of concepts, i.e., their creation, as opposed
> to their transmission.
> I think Vygotsky took a scientific concept as an archetype (or paragon)
> of the true concept, and in the context of the early Soviet Union, most
> people would have taken the two as synonymous. But in general, *true
> concepts* arise in *institutions* of some kind. As I said to Anna Sfard,
> in my opinion a trrue concept is nearly synonymous to a discourse. (Not
> quite, because in my opinion, concept also includes the forms of social
> practice other than discourse.)
> So for example, "the Holy Trinity" is a true concept and obviously
> neither scientific nor spontaneous, and it arises through instruction in
> a Church institution.
> I think *adults *can acquire concepts in all sorts of activity, whether
> playing computer game or reading books, so long as their acquisition of
> the word is connected to participation in the relevant social practices.
> After all, I learnt everything I know about CHAT participating in xmca
> and reading.
> that's how I see it.
> Martin Packer wrote:
> > Anthony, and Temple,
> > Mind, Culture and Activity has a special issue in preparation, guest
> edited by Yrjö Engestrom and Annalisa Sannino, titled 'Concept formation in
> the wild.' I know that some of the people who have sent in abstracts for
> manuscripts to be considered for that issue are xmca members. Perhaps they
> would like to take a shot at answering your question.
> > Martin
> > On Apr 26, 2011, at 6:24 AM, Temple wrote:
> >> I realize some time's gone by, but the question Jody's (Joanne's) post
> from last week raises for me is this:
> >> Can scientific concepts develop in non-structured learning settings? I
> mean those other than schooling, team play, church, work, etc. How about
> from being online a lot - just surfing, playing games, or reading blogs - or
> from spending one's time at the library or bookstore alone?
> >> It seems to me that such scenarios blur the lines between spontaneous
> and scientific situations, so to speak. That is, they are natural, everyday
> activities that lend themselves to repetition and reflective thinking and
> naming, where the structure of the activity itself (as opposed to a more
> experienced mentor) spurs on one's reflection, generalization, and
> "scientification" of knowledge.
> >> The following statement from Jody's (post sent my thoughts in this
> >>> In home schooling described by Holt, certain scientific concepts could
> be learned by a child at home, driven by their loves and needs.
> >> Could someone point me specifically towards a richer discussion of the
> development of scientific concepts during one's everyday "alone time"?
> >> Thx,
> >> Anthony
> >> Sent from my iPhone
> >> On Apr 22, 2011, at 7:32 AM, Joanne Hyatt <email@example.com> wrote:
> >>> I'm only a grad student, but I'll risk a spontaneous response.
> >>> In 1991 I had no background in education other than my own experiences.
> >>> However, compelled by circumstance, I home schooled my fourth grader.
> >>> main thought at the time was, "Even if he only reads at home for a
> >>> he'll be better off than attending the school he is destined to be
> >>> to." My pedagogy was inspired by John Holt's magazine "Unschooling", a
> >>> publication edited by Holt and filled with inspiring stories from
> >>> following Holt's theories.
> >>> I loved overseeing school at home, and my son and later my daughter
> >>> there. However, try as I might, it was exceptionally hard to shift or
> >>> the approach my children took to schooling. They were already
> >>> brainwashed by their few years of traditional schooling. While I hoped
> >>> they'd want to build a ham radio and communicate with 10-year-olds in
> >>> Australia, they'd see a workbook in the supermarket and ask me to buy
> it for
> >>> them. Also, years later, when I became a 4th grade teacher, I found it
> >>> impossible to create at school the environment I strove to create in my
> >>> home.
> >>> Clark Aldrich, in the link Peter supplied, is a breath of fresh air, a
> >>> modern and insightful 'Holt'. He is spot on in his diagnosis of
> >>> schooling's failings and offers compelling reasons try a new approach
> >>> home. However, to unschool properly, in my opinion, required a
> >>> amount of work on the part of parents. Today, in my community, more and
> >>> parents are choosing to home school, mostly out of desperation and
> >>> frustration with the school systems, but they lack the time and energy
> >>> follow up on Aldrich's compelling implications of what might compromise
> >>> unschooling.
> >>> I just finished reading Vygotsky's Thinking and Speech. Admittedly a
> >>> as I read, I kept looking for more references to a child's learning
> >>> their own experiences. Vygotsky's notion of scientific and everyday
> >>> seemed defined more by an instructional pedagogy than by content. He
> >>> to discount the idea that a child could develop an interest and pursue
> >>> successfully on their own. He refers to formal schooling, as he knows
> >>> as a given, an unchanging institution, and the trick is to figure out
> >>> children are developing there. The concept that many children might
> >>> outside of such an institution in different ways was absent. "Schools
> >>> teaching too many children too many things that don't excite them and
> >>> no relevance to what they need or love... says Aldrich." In home
> >>> described by Holt, certain scientific concepts could be learned by a
> >>> at home, driven by their loves and needs.
> >>> It seems that today we are trying to reinvent the institution of formal
> >>> schooling; how would that affect both Vygotsky's teacher or expert in
> >>> ZPD as well as his distinction between scientific and everyday
> >>> On Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 6:04 AM, Peter Smagorinsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> >>>> without-the-school/?cxntfid=blogs_get_schooled_blog
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> *Andy Blunden*
> Joint Editor MCA:
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
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