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Pragmatism. Action -> -> -> Destiny Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny. –William James.

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Presentation on theme: "Pragmatism. Action -> -> -> Destiny Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny. –William James."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pragmatism

2 Action -> -> -> Destiny Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny. –William James

3 (1) Role of Experience Primacy of experience Participation in (not using) language, history, world Situated; contextual; historical Linking of fact/value Knowledge is constructed

4 Experience and Learning Tree figures –School and Society

5 Ordinary Experience The paradox is that Dewey achieved this viability, not by having written for the future, but rather by writing out of his own present experience. His attitude of affection for ordinary experience remained a lifelong characteristic of his work. He believed that ordinary experience is seeded with surprise and possibilities for enhancement if we but allow it to bathe over us in its own terms. The key here is to avoid derision and the seduction of condescension to the seemingly obvious. In my judgement, the central text in Dewey is found late in his work, in Experience and Education. –John McDermott, p. x

6 Experience We always live at the time we live and not at some other time and only by extracting at each present time the full meaning of each present experience are we prepared for doing the same thing in the future.–p. 51 Intentional teaching => danger of separating experience & school acquisition – Dewey, Experience & Education, 1916, p. 9

7 Paul Valéry It is more useful to speak of what one has experienced than to pretend to a knowledge that is entirely impersonal, an observation without an observer. In fact, there is no theory that is not a fragment, carefully prepared, of some autobiography. I do not pretend to be teaching you anything at all. I will say nothing that you do not already know...

8 (2) Context/Purpose Earl Kelley: Car: on road / outside window Adelbert Ames; –Rotating trapezoid –Mis-scaled room Ihde; Necker cube

9 Causation The notion that disease-causing agents and therapeutic agents are things-in-themselves is often ascribed to Pasteur, and it is therefore salutary to remember Pasteur’s death-bed words: “Bernard is right; the pathogen is nothing; the terrain is everything. –Oliver Sacks, Awakenings, p. 228

10 Lewis Thomas: Disease Theories Evil spirits: witch doctors Bad humours: leeches Germs: antibiotics Off-center: throw pots, health food

11 Abstraction vs. Generalization It is a mistake to equate “abstract” with “general”. Only the concrete permits a general understanding of systemic interconnectedness –Yrjo Engstrom, “Learning by Expanding”

12 (3) Social Construction Social embedding Importance of community Special meanings Recognition of difference Shift power relations

13 Discourse Community Formulations Bakhtin: speech genres Peirce: community of inquirers Dewey: community/education/social life Bloomfield: shared linguistic rules Labov: shared norms Hymes: shared rules + use patterns Fish: interpretive community Swales: discourse community

14 Dewey: Community Interpersonal over cognitive Occasions to identify with others’ point of view –Democracy and Education, p. 84 Occasions to share differences –Public and Its Problems, 155

15 Kuhn T. Kuhn, The structure of scientific revolutions, 1970: to understand scientific thought we must understand scientific communities; scientific knowledge changes, not as our understanding of the world changes, but as scientists organize and reorganize relations among themselves

16 Feyerabend relations change as a consequence of changes in economic and social relations in larger communities –P. Feyerabend, Against Method

17 Rorty to understand any kind of knowledge we must understand "the social justification of belief", i.e., how knowledge is established and maintained in the "normal discourse" of communities of knowledgeable peers –R. Rorty, Philosophy and the mirror of nature, 1979

18 Bruffee A writer's language originates with the community to which he or she belongs. We use language primarily to join communities we do not yet belong to and to cement our membership in communities we already belong to –K. Bruffee, "Social construction, language, and the authority of knowledge...", 1986, p. 784

19 Interpretive Communities "interpretive communities" are the source of our thought and of the "meanings" we produce through the use and manipulation of symbolic structures; also source of what we regard as our very selves –S. Fish, “Is there a text in this class?: The authority of interpretive communities,” 1980

20 (4) Construction Process Perspectivity (no understanding w/o presupposition) Part-whole-part movement Dialectic process (no end point to understanding) Knowing v. Knowledge

21 Thinking Occurrence of a difficulty Definition of the difficulty Occurrence of a suggested explanation or possible solution Rational elaboration of an idea Corroboration of an idea and formation of a concluding belief –Dewey, How We Think

22 Dewey’s Feminism By rejecting foundationalism, Dewey opens the door to legitimizing claims for other forms of knowledge and other ways of knowing... His views of a progressive society as one that “counts individual variation as precious” [His] theory of knowledge is one that encourages respect for differences such that we recognize that the goal of unified, static knowledge is illegitimate. – Jeanne Connel

23 Transmission Model of Theory Formation

24 Social Construction Model of Theory Formation

25 Constructivism as philosophical position Ihde: Necker cube Hacking, p. 81 in Lynch & Woolgar All systems leak [E.Sapir] Anyone who invents a concept takes leave of reality [M.de Unamuno]

26 Constructivism as a method for inquiry Critique of null hypothesis testing Generalization as rhetorical step Control group is the group you don’t control [J. Zacharias] Ecological invalidity as an axiom of cognitive psychology [Cole, Hood, & McDermott] Formalization critique

27 Meaning Making EQ 8: Plato v Wittgenstein Black History Show Fish: community => interpretation => author/reader/text Koestler: Beyond Reductionism Rorty John Berger

28 Vygotsky Activity precedes learning Development as a product of education Personal invention / social convention Cultural mediation Material and symbolic cultural “tools”

29 Similarities in Piaget & Vygotsky Importance of intersubjectivity in social interaction Point of departure for social influence: child's understanding Cooperation in cognitive activity

30 Piaget versus Vygotsky

31 Reader Response Construction of meaning How communication fails and how it is possible Our view of "text" Broaden from comprehension to interpretation Feminist perspectives on reading and writing Relate theory & practice Relations between language & power

32 Pedagogical Implications Rethink assessment Examine the canon / the curriculum Full range of cultural literatures & perspectives Nurturing versus training Understand own knowledge & interpretations Richer view of language Incorporate aesthetics Support role of community Value the individual response


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