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Re: [xmca] Culture & Rationality


I read David Olson's *world On Paper* many years ago and your question
about moving from implicit to explicit is documented in Olson's book as a
historically implicated unfolding.  At each historical step writing down
our thoughts becomes more explicitedly transformed and this new formation
feeds back as a reciprocal process which then recursively transforms
dialogical speech [and thinking processes]
As I remember, Olson's book clearly develops a journey of writing
as developed FROM impicit dialogical acts [consciousness] TO explicit and
volitional acts [conscious awareness]
Returning to your question of possible *general* WAYS that consciousness
moves FROM implicit and becomes more explicit as also implicated in the
development of science from implicit consciousness to explicit awareness
seems to move in parallel *ways*.

Martin, I have just reread Piaget's Comments to Vygotsky [posted to XMCA on
April 6th] and sent from Andy's marxist.org archives. with your question in

This is Piaget's comment on Vygotsky's notion of *conscious awareness* He
suggests both he and Vygotsky are in agreement on the time lag in the
emergence of conscious awareness.  Piaget's reading of Vygotsky is that
Vygotsky posits a late development of awareness as a *law* according to
which awareness and control appear only at the END point of the development
of a function. Also, awareness AT FIRST is limited to the RESULTS of
actions and only later extends to the HOW [the operation itself] Piaget
agrees that these assertions of Vygotsky's are correct but don't explain
these facts. Piaget's explanation is that a subject whose perspective is
DETERMINED by his actions has no reason for becoming AWARE of anything more
than the RESULTS of one's actions.

For Piaget, what is the central explanation for understanding the HOW is
his notion of decentering. [SHIFTING one's focus and COMPARING one action
with other POSSIBLE or ANTICIPATED actions.]  This decentering of
perspectives [about possible actions] LEADS to an awareness of HOW
conscious action develops.

What is critical [and Piaget says leads to mis-understanding of his
position] is that egocentrism as a Piagetian concept is not referring
to private speech. Egocentrism for Piaget refers to notions of centering
and decentering. The egocentric child does not speak FOR himself, but
rather ACCORDING to himself.
Piaget writes,
"Let us replace *for himself* by *according to himself* in all my
writings." For Piaget the VALID meaning of egocentrism is the lack of
decentering, of the ABILITY to shift mental perspective, in social
relationships and in egocentric speech.
Piaget further writes,
"Moreover, I think that it is PRECISELY co-operation with others (on the
cognitive plane) that teaches us to speak *according* to OTHERS and not
simply from our own point of view." [according to self]

In the article Piaget goes on to discuss how he and Vygotsky are in
agreement on the relation of spontaneous concepts and scientific concepts.
[the relation between learning and development] Piaget says on the key
point that spontaneous and scientific concepts START from different points
but eventually meet, they are in complete accord..  Piaget also suggests he
and Vygotsky are in complete accord when he writes  that

"a true meeting takes place between the SOCIOGENESIS of scientific notions
 (in the HISTORY of science and in the transmission of knowledge from one
generation to the next)


the transmission of *spontaneous* structures (influenced, to be sure, by
interaction with the social, familial, scholastic. etc. mileau) ...."

Piaget then adds, "it remains to determine wherein that part" [spontaneity]
"consists." For Piaget, this question

What is the nature of spontaneous activities?

For Piaget this question is an extension of the question concerning
egocentrism [according to self] and the role of decentering in the
development of mental processes.

Martin, your question of *how* consciousness becomes conscious volitional
awareness [as a general way of developing *higher* psychological
functions]  may be reflected on as a process of centering [according to
self] and decentering [according to others in relation to self]. Not as a
negation of self but as an openning to other and the capacity for
reflecting on co-ordinating perspectives [Gadamer's fusion of horizons]

I do question Piaget's assumption that thoughts [as prior] are PUT into
language but that is for another thread.


On Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 10:08 AM, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:

> Hi Michael,
> This is what I am trying to figure out. Chapter 6 seems to offer to
> distinct routes to the awareness of concepts that LSV claims makes possible
> the higher psychological functions. One is the teaching of scientific
> concepts (a la zoped); the other is learning to read and write (though LSV
> throws in other "fundamental disciplines" for good measure).  What is the
> relationship between these two? One can imagine several possibilities. One
> is that the teaching of science requires written material. Another is that
> the 'meta-vocabulary' about language that school provides amounts to a
> domain of scientific concepts in its own right. I imagine there are others.
> Want to help me excavate chapter 6 to figure out LSV's argument?
> Martin
> On Jul 2, 2012, at 11:46 AM, Michael Glassman wrote:
> > Hi Martin,
> >
> > Are you saying here that Vygotsky thought that decontextualized learning
> of reading and writing will lead to learning of scientific concepts, that
> is serves as some sort of pre-requisite?  Or is it that you learn to read
> and write in the process of learning more abstract concepts and one cannot
> really be separate from the other.  The former is part of the argument
> being used for standardized testing in elementary school and the
> concentration on reading and writing in pre-schools so I'm interested.
> >
> > Michael
> >
> > ________________________________
> >
> > From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Martin Packer
> > Sent: Mon 7/2/2012 12:41 PM
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: Re: [xmca] Culture & Rationality
> >
> >
> >
> > Hi Peter,
> >
> > I know less than nothing about the teaching of writing, so yes in that
> sense I'm changing the direction. I'm trying to figure out the details of
> LSV's argument that learning to read and write contributes to the overall
> growth of consciousness and awareness in the school years, such that the
> higher psychological functions become possible. Specifically, does learning
> to read contribute something distinct from being taught scientific
> concepts? Or are these two aspects of teaching somehow part of a single
> process of development?
> >
> > LSV emphasized that written language is an entirely new function, one
> that even at the most minimal level requires a high level of abstraction.
> It is "speech in thought, in representations"; it lacks material sound; it
> is "the speech of thinking." David Olson (1982) made a similar case for the
> power of reading to transform consciousness.  He suggested that what
> schooling provides is a "metalanguage." As children become literate they
> begin to differentiate "sentence meaning" from "speaker meaning" - what is
> *said* and what is *meant*. For example, children between 5 and 8 years of
> age were told a story in which two children went to a movie and bought and
> shared some popcorn. Kevin then complained to Susie: "You have more than
> me." When asked what Kevin had *said*, more than half of the kindergarten
> children replied "Give me some." By Grade 2, in contrast, the majority of
> children reported verbatim what had been said and when asked, indicated
> that they knew what was *meant* as well.
> >        Olson interprets this growing ability as a consequence of the
> fact that writing separates the speaker from his or her speech. The reader
> has to reconstruct what is meant from what is written. In learning to read,
> the child learns to make the distinction between form and intention, and to
> reconstruct the intention from the surface structure. They are aided in
> this by a new vocabulary about both linguistic forms and the various speech
> acts.
> >        In contrast, non-literate cultures, Olson claims, have little
> vocabulary to describe these aspects of form or of intention. One thing
> that literacy does, then, is help the child become aware of structures and
> functions that are implicit in oral competence. For example, intentions -
> beliefs, wants, and desires - are implicit in all intentional action, but
> children only become *aware* of them when they learn the explicit names for
> speech acts such as asking, stating, ordering and promising.
> >        This then is a new level of consciousness that is made possible
> by the new sociocultural technology of writing, in Olson's view. Plus the
> new metavocabulary for talking about writing, which is then applied to
> speech.
> >
> > Mike, you know this work very well. Has Olson's interpretation stood the
> test of time?
> >
> >        On another note, Olson cites Piaget in such a way as to spark
> again my suspicions that JP read LSV earlier than he admitted. Chapter 6 of
> T&L was largely a critique of Piaget's (early) account of preoperational
> thinking. But by 1971 Piaget was proposing - just as LSV did - that the
> business of school is to help make the implicit become explicit:
> >        "The pedagogic problem, therefore, despite the progress realized
> in principle by this return to the natural roots of the operational
> structures, still subsists in its entirety: that of finding the most
> adequate methods for bridging the transition between these natural but
> nonreflective structures to conscious reflection upon such structures and
> to a theoretical formulation of them. (p. 47)."
> >
> > Piaget, J. (1971). Science of education and the psychology of the child.
> New York: Viking Compass Books.
> >
> >        Just a coincidence?
> >
> > Martin
> >
> > On Jul 1, 2012, at 2:46 PM, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:
> >
> >> Martin, I see you taking a different direction with this new post. It's
> less about teaching writing, and more about, broadly speaking, writing.
> >>
> >> I am not confident that all of LSV's views on writing hold up in the
> digital era where you can text back and forth and get immediate response,
> almost as in conversation, from which he differentiates writing. He was
> really talking about handwriting for abstract audiences where there were
> delays between writing and reading by others. But you and I can critique
> one another to death, and Andy can do it from Australia, in some
> circumstances in real time (e.g., we could use the "share screen" function
> of skype and coauthor a doc from remote sites).
> >>
> >> I think that what LSV writes is right for what he was talking about.
> His views of schooling, though, were from a different time, place, and
> culture. So controlling the basic elements (e.g., letter formation) isn't
> necessarily even part of learning to write anymore, although it's probably
> how most people start.
> >>
> >> It's true that "these abilities develop during the process of learning
> to write" although not without feedback, I'd say; and not without something
> frontloaded.
> >>
> >> Writing instruction is still an open-ended question. There's still a
> belief in immersion, for instance: just immerse them in rich print
> environments, get out of their way, and let them write, lest we interfere
> with their unfettered development. I don't buy this approach, but it's out
> there among people who teach writing from kindergarten to grad school. I'm
> more comfortable with the idea that you can teach people how to explore and
> refine ideas through writing, and do so in ways that help people learn
> appropriate conventions and strategies. See e.g.
> http://www.heinemann.com/products/E03397.aspx (a total of 7 books in the
> series).
> >>
> >> I'm not sure how well I can capture the nuances of writing pedagogy in
> a one-screen medium, but I hope that at least provides some clarity. p
> >>
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
> On Behalf Of Martin Packer
> >> Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2012 2:32 PM
> >> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> >> Subject: Re: [xmca] Culture & Rationality
> >>
> >> Hi Peter,
> >>
> >> Help me figure this out, please. LSV emphasizes that writing requires
> specific kinds of conscious awareness that are necessary for speaking. The
> following are some rough notes on this. Would you say that they are true of
> both types of writing that you have described, or only one?
> >>
> >> Written language is not simply a transcription of oral speech, it is
> something altogether more abstract. Writing not only abstracts from the
> sounds of speech, it also abstracts for the situation of spoken language.
> The language a child speaks is regulated by the dynamics of the situation,
> and directed towards a specific other person or people. Speech, for the
> school-aged child, has become automatic, spontaneous, and unconscious.
> Written language, in contrast, is communication without an interlocutor. We
> don't usually write about the here and now, to someone who is present. We
> write for a reader who we may not even know, who will read our words in
> circumstances we cannot anticipate.
> >>
> >> In learning to write, then, the school-age child learns a new kind of
> communication, one that is abstracted from the world around her. Writing
> deals not with words, but with representations of words. Writing lacks the
> music of speech, and the writer must make up for this lack with various
> grammatical and rhetorical devices. Writing is, for the school-age child
> (and for many adults), a deliberate, conscious process, one that involves
> making careful, considered decisions. The child must develop voluntary
> control of the basic elements (letters in the case of writing), of syntax,
> and semantics - whereas in the child's everyday speech these have been
> mastered and have become unconscious, spontaneous, and automatic.
> >>
> >> In short, the mastery of writing requires conscious awareness and
> voluntary control of various aspects of language. It might seem that in
> order to teach a child to write we would need to wait for these abilities
> to develop. But Vygotsky said no, these abilities develop during the
> process of learning to write; they have "an indissoluble internal link"
> with the teaching of writing.
> >>
> >> Martin
> >>
> >> On Jul 1, 2012, at 5:23 AM, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:
> >>
> >>> Just one thought that occurred to me while reading these posts, and
> offered from an old English teacher and on-and-off writing researcher:
> >>>
> >>> Martin says, "Or how teaching writing contributes over and above
> teaching scientific concepts."
> >>>
> >>> I should note that not all writing instruction is the same. In fact,
> one thing that occurs to me is that one type is oriented to academic
> writing with formal, genre-based conventions. Another (and not "the" other)
> is really based on personal exploration of life experiences. This approach
> was very popular in the 80s, and perhaps even dominant in many circles, and
> remains around, although the Common Core Standards, etc., will surely
> diminish its availability. Anyhow, one seems dedicated to teaching academic
> (scientific) conceptions of formal expression--although in fact, it tended
> to be so form-oriented that conceptions would seem to have a hard time
> emerging from the writing process. The other seems dedicated to providing
> an environment for exploring everyday (spontaneous) concepts, with "direct"
> or explicit instruction not only eschewed, but viewed as  violent to the
> students' personal development.
> >>>
> >>> -----Original Message-----
> >>> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
> >>> On Behalf Of Martin Packer
> >>> Sent: Saturday, June 30, 2012 7:17 PM
> >>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> >>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Culture & Rationality
> >>>
> >>> Hi Larry,
> >>>
> >>> Good questions - the first is one of the main motivations for me
> trying to figure out the details of LSV's argument. One starts to wonder,
> how specific is this to cultures in which there is schooling? Would some
> other kind of deliberate instruction be equally effective? What about
> cultural circumstances in which no deliberate instruction by adults take
> place (Peter F. brought this up)?
> >>>
> >>> And then, what counts as a scientific concept? Can different cultures
> >>> have different kinds of scientific concepts, equally adequate to
> >>> grasping the necessities of reality? Could the Chinese - to go back to
> >>> Nisbett's work for a moment - have concepts that are different from
> >>> those in the West, but that are equally scientific? (It's odd, come to
> >>> think of that, that LSV never wrote - to my knowledge - of Oriental
> >>> culture, given that the Soviet Union stretched all the way to the
> >>> East.)
> >>>
> >>> And then your second question comes to mind. We tend to think of
> scientific inquiry as an unfinished process; perhaps as one that never
> finishes. But if so, in what sense do current scientific concepts grasp
> necessities? And could the process that LSV is describing continue, to
> achieve higher forms of consciousness and higher kinds of knowledge? Or
> does the history of ontogenesis have an endpoint?
> >>>
> >>> But I think to be able to take a shot at answering these questions we
> need to get clearer on the details of the argument. I'm still not clear on
> how the 'intellectualizing' takes place in adolescence. Or how teaching
> writing contributes over and above teaching scientific concepts. And much
> more!
> >>>
> >>> Martin
> >>>
> >>> On Jun 30, 2012, at 5:59 PM, Larry Purss wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> QUESTION:
> >>>> Is THIS hierarchical movement of developing  scientific concepts as
> >>>> conscious awareness a universal human potential or is this form of
> >>>> conscious awareness  a historically and culturally situated phenomena?
> >>>> QUESTION:
> >>>> If awareness is a reflective phenomena of making what was implicit
> >>>> more explicit and more volitional [and therefore higher] is there a
> >>>> universal human potential to *see through* or *unveil* [NOT reveal]
> >>>> the implicit historical formation of earlier forms of consciousness,
> >>>> including scientific consciousness?
> >>>
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