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  • Author or Editor: Wolff-Michael Roth x
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The Mathematics of Mathematics

Thinking with the Late, Spinozist Vygotsky

Series:

Wolff-Michael Roth

This book takes up where L. S. Vygotsky has left off during the last few months of his life, when he renounced much of what he had done before. A month before Vygotsky died, he wrote in his notebook that he felt like Moses who had seen the promised land but was never allowed to set foot on it. The vision Vygotsky laid out during his final days had been influenced by his readings of the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza and a book by Karl Marx published for the first time a year before Vygotsky died. In the present book, the author lays out a view of mathematics based on a monist view of knowing, learning, and development. Just as the essence of what is specifically human, the mathematics of mathematics exists in the ensemble of societal relations. For the individual, this means that mathematical thinking and reasoning was a society-typical relation with another person first, often the teacher. Using data from a variety of situations, including school students as well as scientists, the book develops some fundamental concepts and categories for mathematics education research, including the thinking body, sociogenesis, the intra-intersubjective field, pereživanie (experience), obučenie (teaching | learning), and drama.

Series:

Wolff-Michael Roth

This book is about language in STEM research and about how it is thought about: as something that somehow refers to something else not directly accessible, often «meaning», «mental representation», or «conception». Using the analyses of real data and analyses of the way certain concepts are used in the scientific literature, such as “meaning,” this book reframes the discussion about «meaning», «mental representation», and «conceptions» consistent with the pragmatic approaches that we have become familiar with through the works of K. Marx, L. S. Vygotsky, M. M. Bakhtin, V. N. Vološinov, L. Wittgenstein, F. Mikhailov, R. Rorty, and J. Derrida, to name but a few. All of these scholars, in one or another way, articulate a critique of a view of language that has been developed in a metaphysical approach from Plato through Kant and modern constructivism; this view of language, which already for Wittgenstein was an outmoded view in the middle of the last century, continuous to be alive today and dominating the way language is thought about and theorized.

Rigorous Data Analysis

Beyond ""Anything Goes""

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Wolff-Michael Roth

In qualitative research, one can often hear the statement that research results are just (social) constructions. In criminal cases and in court hearings, we tend to expect that the true sequence of events has to be found rather than just any story. Here the author shows that qualitative social research can be conducted in the manner of police work or court proceedings. He does so by exhibiting how short pieces of transcriptions can be approached to uncover who, when, where, and how participated, what kind of social situation produced the transcription, and so on without any background knowledge other than that talk itself. Commenting on transcriptions of a researcher in the course of doing rigorous data analysis, readers learn doing ethnographically adequate accounts and critical institutional ethnography “at the elbow” of an experienced practitioners. Further topics include the role of turn sequences, the ethnomethods of knowledge-power and institutional relations, the documentary method of interpretation, and time-sensitive social analysis.

Dwelling, Building, Thinking

A Post-Constructivist Perspective on Education, Learning, and Development

Series:

Wolff-Michael Roth

In this book, the author presents a major challenge to (social) constructivism, which has become an ideology that few dare to critique. Transgressing the boundaries of this ideology, the author develops an alternative epistemology that takes dwelling as the starting point and ground. Dwelling enables building and thinking (‘constructing’). It is an epistemology in which there is a primacy of social relations, which are the first instantiations of the higher psychological functions ascribed to humans. Starkly contrasting constructivism, the author shows how the commonness of the senses and the existence of social relations lead to common sense, which is the foundation of everything rational and scientific. Common sense, which comes from and with dwelling, is the ground in which all education is rooted. Any attempt to eradicate it literally uproots and thus alienates students from the life and world with which they are so familiar.

Series:

Mijung Kim and Wolff-Michael Roth

Science educators have come to recognize children’s reasoning and problem solving skills as crucial ingredients of scientific literacy. As a consequence, there has been a concurrent, widespread emphasis on argumentation as a way of developing critical and creative minds. Argumentation has been of increasing interest in science education as a means of actively involving students in science and, thereby, as a means of promoting their learning, reasoning, and problem solving. Many approaches to teaching argumentation place primacy on teaching the structure of the argumentative genre prior to and at the beginning of participating in argumentation. Such an approach, however, is unlikely to succeed because to meaningfully learn the structure (grammar) of argumentation, one already needs to be competent in argumentation. This book offers a different approach to children’s argumentation and reasoning based on dialogical relations, as the origin of internal dialogue (inner speech) and higher psychological functions. In this approach, argumentation first exists as dialogical relation, for participants who are in a dialogical relation with others, and who employ argumentation for the purpose of the dialogical relation. With the multimodality of dialogue, this approach expands argumentation into another level of physicality of thinking, reasoning, and problem solving in classrooms. By using empirical data from elementary classrooms, this book explains how argumentation emerges and develops in and from classroom interactions by focusing on thinking and reasoning through/in relations with others and the learning environment.

Enaction

Toward a Zen Mind in Learning and Teaching

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Domenico Masciotra, Wolff-Michael Roth and Denise Morel

This book is addressed to all those in the field of education or related fields, including teachers, teacher-trainers, consultants, and researchers, who are interested in exploring the question, “What does it mean to know, to learn and to teach?” Contrary to popular conceptions, an enactive perspective assumes that knowing and learning are not disembodied operations that take place solely in a person’s head. Rather, they are a function of the whole person who is firmly situated in the world and who acts in the world to transform it, just as she is transformed by it. The dynamic and transformational nature of knowing and learning are reflected in the relationship between the person and her world, a relationship that evolves through acting in and with the world rather than abstracting oneself from it. Knowing develops as a function of the person’s availability, that is, her full involvement and presence in the here- and-now. The aim of education is thus to foster the development of this relationship in a never-ending quest for deep interiority with the world.
Drawing on their experiences as teachers, curriculum developers, students, Zen practitioners, karateka, bicyclists, hobby mathematicians, and gardeners, the authors provide many concrete examples of what it means to think about knowing and learning in terms of enaction and how teachers and curriculum developers who take enactivism seriously might go about designing and implementing lessons.