Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

blowing it :-/

by • December 11th, 2006

It has been some time since I made an error in judgment (while interpreting) that sent a deaf and non-deaf person into a spin of communicative confusion. I hope I can explain this clearly, as I realized immediately what I had done ‘wrong’ but could not un-do. Perhaps, by putting this in writing, I’ll be able to catch myself before making this faux paux again. It is familiar, if not common.
It is a classroom setting with the typical many-to-one ratio: one deaf student, a non-deaf teacher, and several non-deaf students. This deaf student has solid verbalization and strong lipreading skills, so it is one of those situations where I only work from spoken English into American Sign Language; the deaf person speaks for herself and occasionally does not even watch my interpretation. The teacher was explaining the difference between compound and complex sentences. One of the non-deaf students asked how a complex sentence is different than a comma splice. The deaf student was taking notes when the question was asked, and by the time she looked up at me I was interpreting the middle of the teacher’s explanation.
Two different ‘realities’ co-occurred. The

Read More

2 Comments

Language and Me

by • October 24th, 2006

Disability comes in all shapes, sizes, modes, and effects. There are legally-recognized versions and emotional varieties. These, or any number of indeterminate cognitive and psychiatric peculiarities, can interfere with intimate relationships and social interactions. For instance, people look at me and see a woman with a mullet who appears physically fit. What do they know? No, I don’t meet the federal criteria of “impairment of a major life function” (Americans with Disabilities Act 1990). I can breathe, walk, grasp, talk, feel, think, and otherwise function within the range of physicality deemed normal. Who decided to limit “normal” and impose such a measure for judging character or the potential worth of one’s contributions to society? Individuals will not claim responsibility, of course. Such boundaries and markers of difference are established ‘out there’ by impersonal forces of culture. The representations are propagated through the media, religion, and a disturbing range of incidental, informal taboos and negative sanctions. Questioning these norms is often considered problematic, disruptive, or unpleasant. When I do wonder about the so-called normal, people situate me clearly: I am deviant.
Fitting few standard stereotypes, I have learned to live through language. Sentiments not spoken affected me first.

Read More

14 Comments

“pointing” through talk

by • October 14th, 2006

frost on grass by Ambarish a question of focus.jpg

Language as action. Vernon carried on in his inimitable way about Dewey and Wittgenstein during yesterday’s New England gathering of scholars in Language and Social Action: Meaning in LSI Research. I missed the morning sessions ­čÖü but attended the presentations of Bob Sanders and Anita Pomerantz. Vernon missed the mild fireworks among Bob, Donal (who organized the event) and another member of the audience whose name I didn’t catch.
It was entertaining and instructive to witness the negotiation of meaning – particularly agreement and disagreement – among these heavyweights in the field. Bob came under fire for his interpretive lens on the elaborate ceromonial ritual of how nobility treats “a guest” of the Queen. I’m not sure if it was his own framing of insider/outsider that created the opening for this particular critique, but a critique was engaged as if there is no relation between the outsider perspective (on extreme excess) and the insider perspective (of representation and proper treatment).

Read More

Leave a Comment

Language as Motion

by • October 10th, 2006

I wrote this piece, Language as Motion, as an example of the “Self-in-Contradiction” essay that is one of the options for the “personal/identity narrative” assigned to students in the introductory level writing course I’m currently teaching. There are a couple of friends who will recognize themselves in this piece (thank you), and I have to give some credit to Just-in-Time, who got us lost in traffic yesterday in Boston. While we were discussing writing as a craft, another part of my brain was mulling this attempt.
I am also conscious of the timing. Language set-in-motion through the last several semesters of blogging and constructing public writing environments for students is coming to some kind of turning point. The theory of language-as-action meets with (a) practical reality of language-in-use.

Read More

Leave a Comment

powers of ten

by • March 26th, 2006

Here’s another item I’m sure I’ve posted before but obviously didn’t catalog or code correctly for later retrieval. At any rate, I saw this short video on the powers of ten when I interpreted a science class some years back for upper elementary school students (possibly fifth-graders). I find it a useful metaphor for this notion of social metonymy that I keep trying to articulate as a means of linking the microsocial with the macrosocial and vice-versa.

Read More

Leave a Comment

degrees of realism and consistency

by • July 21st, 2005

I’m more than halfway through Goffman’s Frame Analysis, subtitled “An Essay on the Organization of Experience” (described by Brian as “not an essay, that’s a f*cking tome!”). Robin’s recommendation was right on target. (As was the other text by Deborah Tannen, Framing in Discourse.)
Goffman uses the obvious changes in stage props over time as evidence to “alert us to the expectation that framing does not so much introduce restrictions on what can be meaningful as it … open[s] up variability” (emphasis added, 238). Here I am chafing against the limits when the natural capacity to adjust to all manner of framings and transformations indicates possibility! “Differently put, persons seem to have a very fundamental capacity to accept changes in organizational premises which, once made, render a whole strip of activity different from what it is modeled on and yet somehow meaningful . . .” (238). To wit, teaching “experientially” instead of traditionally, and the capacity of Jeff at UNH to apply communication theory in practice vs the inability of others to recognize the possibility of recasting teaching in an as yet meaningful way. Others (going unnamed to protect the innocent and the guilty) mistrust:

Read More

Leave a Comment

Vygotsky

by • October 2nd, 2004

Between the process mediation workshop and Betty’s poster session on self-regulation, I finally have a conceptual understanding of

Read More

Leave a Comment