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Topic: Bauersfeld and "the reality illusion"
Replies: 2   Last Post: Oct 29, 1995 6:30 PM

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Michael Paul Goldenberg

Posts: 7,041
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Registered: 12/3/04
Bauersfeld and "the reality illusion"
Posted: Oct 29, 1995 9:31 AM
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At the risk of foisting more of that ol' devil philosophy on readers of
this list, I'd like to offer the following quotation from Heinrich
Bauersfeld's essay "'Language Games' in the Mathematics Classroom: Their
Function and Their Effect" which appears in THE EMERGENCE OF MATHEMATICAL
MEANING: Interaction in Classroom Cultures, edited by Bauersfeld and Paul

The reproduction of the reality illusion, the belief in the verbal
transport of knowledge and direct learning and teaching, still is a very
common feature in the early school years--with devastating consequences.
Under the pressures from limited time, prescribed curricula, and external
control, and driven by their own engagement, ambitions, and anxieties, the
teachers are inclined to replace the necessary dealing with the students'
subjectively constructed meanings with the conventionalized exchange of
symbols with poor taken-as-shared meanings and definitions. 'There is
abundand anecdotal evidence that much of what happens in school is driven
by a need to maintain bureaucratic and institutional norms rather than
scholarly norms' (Pintrich, Marx, & Boyle, 1993, p. 193). In particular,
the teachers' internalized obligation to maintain a smooth, productive, and
steady flow of the classroom processes functions toward a curtailment of
the negotiations and toward their their replacement by routines for the
direct production of wanted actions and related verbal descriptions. Too
many teachers fall victim to the reality illusion: 'recitation' (Hoetker &
Albrand, 1969) and the 'funnel pattern' (Bauersfeld, 1978, 1988), in which
instruction dominates over interaction. The effects are well known;
mathematics is not only the most hated school subject for many students, it
is also the most ineffective one as well. [p.276]

Somehow, the above passage seems relevant to several of the threads we've
been pursuing recently, at least to my mind. One more short quotation seems
equally important:

"There is no simple pointing at something and naming it adequately, because
what is seen and recognized can be reasonably different with each of the
students. Teachers often forget these differences by requesting 'Just look
at it!' as if an array of beads or sticks or any other didactical means
such as signs, models, or embodiments were self-speaking issues." [p.278]

How many of us have heard those dreaded words in a mathematics classroom,
"It's obvious that. . . " and wondered why we were too dense to see what
"everybody" else could? How many of us have used those same or similar
words in our own mathematics teaching? Food for thought on this 25 hour

|Michael Paul Goldenberg
|University of Michigan 310 E. Cross St.
|School of Education 4002 Ypsilanti, MI 48198
|Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259 (313) 482-9585
|(313) 747-2244
|"Truth is a mobile army of metaphors."
|Friedrich Nietzsche

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