Some comments on articles by Professor Jaan Valsiner

My comments: in order to understand the 4 levels of semiotic regulation, I will try and note down concrete examples gathered during the reading. I’ve forgotten somehow the example during the conference. Did it have something to do with hidden racism that manifests itself at level 4? In the paper: Semiotic fields in action, 2007, figure 7.4 shows the processes of generalization and hypergeneralization in affective regulation flow of experience. Maybe I’ll ask questions in order to understand:

Level 0: physiological, non-cultural; where do we find semiotic regulation here?

Level1: pre-verbal signs (iconic, relative à toute forme de représentation visuelle; indexical, a word or expression whose reference may vary from speaker to speaker: some indexicals are “I,” “this,” “now,” and “here”; hybrid, # anything of mixed origin, unlike parts, etc. # Linguis. a word made up of elements originally from different languages, as companionway); what examples can we find here?

Level 2: verbal signs (schematizations); we give meaning to the world. In a language class we learn the required names: chaise, chair, Stull, Stuhl.

Level 3: generalized verbal signs; here we can talk about respect for other cultures, which belongs to level 4.

Level 4: hypergeneralized field signs; we may understand the concept of respecting others intellectually, but deep seated emotions (positive and negative) may not be affected here.

My highlights from the paper: Missions in history and history through a mission: inventing better worlds for humankind, Jaan Valsiner, 2003

“However, there exists an alternative to this nice story about education. It can be claimed that formal education is an act of violence – against currently existing socio-cultural states of affairs (e.g., review by Harber, 2002). Formal education was introduced in human history as a means to distance the learners from their immediate knowledge bases, and to make them accept and cherish the corpus of knowledge and values that transcended their local community. As such, formal education differs cardinally from its informal counterpart—the latter brings the young of the given society in line with the existing socio-cultural system. »

After reading the paper I realized that it was an attempt to deconstruct some workings in education, with the aim to make us aware of the dangers education can bring with it. Is it up to us to find viable solutions to educating our children, ourselves? Can we not agree on a number of values that should guide every human being? Should not every child be able to read and write? How else can we live peacefully in a global society? Decisions have to be made and the article has shown me how these decisions are often filled with material that has a direct impact on those we are engaged in ‘educating’.

Page 11: Formal schooling indeed opens the horizons of the learners. Yet it

does something else in parallel with that—it brings the reasoning and feeling

processes of the knowers under the social guidance of the educators. Hence

education is a root for social power—and the latter is never neutral, altruistic,

or unconditionally benevolent.

What would be an attempt to provide schooling that promotes transparency about their values and aims? Bahá’í Writings state: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom. (Bahá’u’lláh, 1983)

Page 13: Let us return to some fashionable themes of our time. Would “computer literacy” mean our capability of writing programs for our home computers—or merely following the instructions for how to run a pre-set program? If the latter—isn’t that somewhat similar to the Portuguese colonizers expecting the “assimilated natives” to wear shoes and eat with fork and knife? Are the users of PowerPoint more “civilized” than the backward people who use just a regular overhead projector?

These are questions that come from our contemporary discourses and involve high technology presented to us for consumption. A glimpse into the history of missionary education in Africa can tell us about our own projections into “the Other”—perhaps to the benefit of setting the whole future of our own education up in a less missionary and more reflexive ways.

It seems evident today, that in order to survive as human beings, we need to adapt to our environment, the globe and find sustainable ways of living. All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. (Bahá’u’lláh, 1983)The purpose of advancing civilization should be guided by our curiosity to understand how we and the world around us functions. I would like to share a textbook used successfully in Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Colombia.

In Intellectual Preparation for Social Action, Volume 1, FUNDAEC in Colombia brings together three units of study from its text Basic Concepts, The Language of Descriptions and Moral Capabilities. The volume belongs to a series of books constituting a program by the same name promoted by that organization. In most educational systems, pressures created by intense competition oblige high school and undergraduate students to spend enormous energy in preparing themselves for examinations of various types. As a result, preparation for life-long education and for effective action directed towards the transformation of society is neglected. The program “Intellectual Preparation for Social Action” is designed to fill this gap. It seeks to respond to the educational needs of an increasing number of individuals who, aware of the crisis of education, are attracted to the challenges of intellectual activity in consonance with spiritual aspiration. (203 pages, 8 ½" x 11") (FUNDAEC, Fundación para la Aplicación y Enseñanza de las Ciencias, 2003)

Bibliography :

Bahá’u’lláh. (1983). Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. USA: Bahá’í Publishing Trust.

FUNDAEC, Fundación para la Aplicación y Enseñanza de las Ciencias. (2003). Intellectual Preparation for Social Action (Vol. 1). Columbia: Development Learning press.

Lample, P. (2009). Revelation & Social Reality. USA: Palabra Publications.

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