Nope, it's hopeless: more good stuff getting thought & said here than I can keep up with.
Ignoring the last three or four posts, I want to go back a few steps and respond to Marcy's
inference about the fact that what I'm interested in more than the "ownership" or
"authenticity" of the writing is the extent to which it offers an occasion for learning. As I
thought about that this noon (she's quite right, of course) it occurred to me that a powerful
analogy might be with the work on "intrinsic" and "extrinsic" "rewards" (now there's a flourish
of shudder quotes, eh?).
When Alfie Kohn and all the others who've worked on this distinguish between intrinsic and
extrinsic rewards, they draw an opposition which seems to me closely parallel to what I'm
trying to attend to. The classic case is the one where someone's playing a game for fun, to
engage in it, to win, and someone else is being paid to play it. The classic _finding_ is that
the latter tend to quit as soon as the pay ends.
How I think about that -- I'm not sure Alfie Kohn would agree -- is that the transaction in the
second case is most centrally with an authority, the paymaster, not with the game or the
partners in play. That authority will make the judgement about whether you get paid, whether
you're done, etc., and your own view really won't matter much. The consequences are
fundamentally arbitrary (there's room here for some thinking about the relations between
"consequences" and "rewards").
So although it looks like the same action being conducted, the social relationships which
define the action are radically different (and thus the action itself is radically different).
Developing the analogy, the writing that isn't, in the terms I'm thinking about, dialogic, is
no less the basis for a social relationship (or set of them), but the relationship isn't
intrinsically connected to what the text says. I almost have the feeling you could do some
sort of diagram to show the relationships around the text.
As I start to think in this direction, I start to think I can see why my instinct is that
dialogic written language offers a more powerful learning occasion than, well, whatever we're
going to call writing that isn't that.
St. Thomas University
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