[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: [xmca] Taking culture into account/Doing harm?

You know I read the article and I don't see a Vygotskian approach and the type of cultural psychology/educational approach to be as antithetical as the author supposes.  I guess the first thing I would say is Vygotsky is not necessarily as much of a dialectical materialism and/or Hegelian as the author proposes.  I think that was in his background, but from my point of view I don't think his goal was to develop a dialectical material educational approach or even psychology.  I don't think he ever had time to develop an overarching goal that organize all his ideas.   People keep saying why is Vygotsky so popular and I think the reason is that while he says some amazingly interesting things he is also something of a Rorschach test - what people see in him is deeply colored by their own backgrounds and goals.  Just a tangent for a second.  Many writers consider "The Great Gatsby" one of the two or three greatest American novels.  Many of us in the US read it in high school.  One day my brother told me, "Read Great Gatsby again, it is a completely different book when you are forty than then you are eighteen."  I resisted but I did, and it was a completely different novel, with different meanings.  Great writer can do that, almost form canals through which change course as the rivers of your lives take on different flows.  I know you are not supposed to say this, but I have read Vygotsky at different times and some of his work has had completely different meanings for me depending on what I was thinking about and who I had read recently.  Part of it is because it was in many ways theoriy on the run, sort of like Spinoza to whom Vygotsky is often compared (although I still don't see the strong ties).  Spinoza is just a bunch of short aphorisms which can be interpreted in a number of different ways.  But he was writing philosophy while he was trying to survive the inquisition.  Vygotsky was writing theory while trying to survive the rise of Stalinism maybe?  It gives his words a dynamic, fluid feel maybe.  Who knows.  Anyway, all this is to say that I think the author takes a very limited view of Vygotsky.
But there is perhaps a bigger issue and why I think the author makes a mistake is posing cultural psychology against something like CHAT or Dewey.  It is something that has been bothering me since I read Jonathan Hiaidt's book.  I read it as part of a class and pretty much all of my students were unhappy with the book (as was I) and challenged his conception of cultural psychology.  I went back and read Richard Shweder, who was sort of Haidt's mentor and I found I wasn't as happy with his idea of cultural psychology as I had been.  Indigenous cultures can help you establish a foothold in learning, a way in I think, but many cultures are not that great (especially in the ways they treat women, female children, and historically oppressed groups).  Historical culture is not an absolute good and perhaps an important part of education is teaching members of a community, children and adult, that they are not trapped by their cultural history, they get to choose what they want to keep and what they want to let go of.  I am thinking at this point this is what Vygotsky may have been after in his views on education - that it is supposed to move the locus of control to the community as it is, not as it has developed.


From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of mike cole
Sent: Sun 7/22/2012 12:15 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
Subject: [xmca] Taking culture into account/Doing harm?

The attached article has been hanging around my desktop for some time now.
is critical of people like myself who had sought ways in ways to assist
kids from
non-mainstream cultural communities when they encounter standard schooling.

At least one of the shoes provided seems to fit. Seems worth reflecting on
the critique
as a whole.

Anyone interested?



xmca mailing list