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

Huw, i do agree with what you write:

 "My reading of colonization in this context was of an enforced mediation,
e.g. railroads, television, computing, money & consumerism, of which the
only defence is conscious organization, e.g. intracultural agreement to
sustain the means of production in which values are education/practice are

and the article that Andy attached - Scribner's take of Vygotsky's uses of history, unwittingly supports Richardson's as well as your contentions.

Scribner writes on page 122:

"One of their (Marx and Engels) kernel ideas was that the human species differs from all others because, through its manipulation of nature, it frees itself from biological determinism and begins to fashion its own nature.  Productive activities (generically 'labor') change in the course of history as new resources and new forms of society come into being.  This history is material because it establishes the material activities of people and their intercourse with one another as the source of ideas and mental life (Marx and Engels, 1846)."

further on she states:

"Changes in social activities that occur in history have directionality: hand-powered tools precede machines; number systems come into use before algebra.  This movement is expressed in the concept of historical development in contrast to the generic concept of historic change, and its reflection in human mental life is expressed as mental development."

both of these epistemologies Richardson are not epistemologies shared by indigenous epistemologies.  these are european based epistemologies.

later on in this chapter that Scribner writes, she recounts the experiences of the Oksapmin people of Papua New Guinea that used "a rudimentary number system" and are now beginning to use pocket calculators.  noting the shift in the use of number systems Scribner moves into reflection, page 142:

"One might ask how adult-child dyadic learning relationships are affected when both members of the dyad are novices and are acquiring new number facts and computational skills together.  Or we might want to inquire into the development of 'binumeracy' (drawing an analogy with biliteracy) among adults and children and investigate how uses of one of another number system are influenced by the characteristics of the particular arithmetic tasks that Oksapmin now encounter in their communities.  We might be concerned to document whether social pressures are being generated for conversion to a modern number system at a faster rate than some adults are prepared to accept  and what consequences such a situation might have for their children's learning progress."

i suggest that here, Scribner assumes that the conversion to a modern number system is a given, whether or not some adults are prepared to accept it.

and there is clearly no indication that the original, "rudimentary" number system of the Oksapmin is connected to any epistemology, though of course all number systems have epistemologies.

so, yes, Huw, i'd say that "colonization in this context was of an enforced mediation", buttressed with the assumption that modern is superior, and clearly it can unwittingly play out in the uses of CHAT epistemologies.

to quote Foucault: "People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does."

it's a mighty big freight train!


Phillip White, PhD
Urban Community Teacher Education Program
School of Education & Human Development
University of Colorado Denver
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