Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Chomsky on education

Below are a video of Chomsky on education and some excerpts from it (color emphasis was added by me). Texts are available from  I thank Prof. Yukio Otsu for this information.


Robichaud: On that subject, since the last few years in Quebec, we began to observe the influences of American educational politics or theories in our institutions. Standardized testing, teaching to the tests, competition between schools, between private and public institutions... How do you think measures like No Child Left Behind by Bush or Race to the Top by Obama changed the face of the American educational system?

Chomsky: First of all, there are problems with the American educational system, but these measures don't deal with them at all: to the extent that they have an effect, I think it's harmful. I've seen plenty of examples: I do talk to groups of teachers and others, and you can see the effects. A couple months ago, I was giving a talk to a group of teachers on educational policy. A young woman came up after the talk - a sixth grade teacher - and described an incident of the kind that is common, and that my own grandchildren have gone through. She was teaching a section in her 6th grade class. After class, one little girl came up to her and said that she was interested in something that came up during the section, and that she would like some suggestions on how to pursue it further on her own. Instead of responding to her with her teacher's natural instinct, which should be "Sure, great, here's what you can do", she had to tell her "I'm sorry, you just can't do that, you're going to have to study for the MCAS test", a version of standardized test.

All of us have had experiences of courses where you had to pass tests you didn't care about: you studied for it, passed the test fine and, two weeks later, you had forgotten what it was about. That is what it means to teach to test: it is exactly the opposite of education.

It is not that there is no value to tests, to get information about how things are working, other problems that should be addressed and so on: but as a core of an educational program, I think it is just the opposite of what education ought to be.

Incidentally, a lot of the reasons for this in the U.S. - and it should be understood - is that whatever particular individuals may think, those measures are not really a way to improve the educational system: rather to destroy it. The goal is to try to privatize it - that's just part of the general neoliberal ideology, to get rid of the public services. It has a kind of ideological background to it, which I think is pathological but pretty widespread: it is called libertarian, which in my view has nothing to do with libertarianism. Take me, for example: I don't have kids in school. I don't have grandchildren in school. Why should I pay taxes so that the kid across the street can go to school? It is a way to create a kind of sociopathic society in which there's subordination to concentrated power: I think that is what lies behind the attack on the public schools and also the attack on social security, which has no economic basis.

It is a way to concentrate power and authority, to impose subordination on the population in the name of liberty: it kind of reminds me of Stalin's proclaiming that we have to defend democracy against the fascists and so on. A way to privatize the system is, first of all, make it non-functional: underfunded, so it is not functional, and then people don't like it so it is handed over to what are called charter schools, which, actually, are publicly funded and don't do any better than public schools, even though they have a lot of advantages. That way you get rid of the general commitment of the public to solidarity and mutual support: the thinking that I ought to care whether the kid across the street can go to school, or whether the disabled widow across town should have food. For these guys, the « Masters of the Universe » (Chomsky points the title of the book on his desk), a phrase from Adam Smith, incidentally, that is the right attitude. You should only do things that benefit yourself, and I think the attacks on the public schools are like this.


One person who has written very well about this is Diane Ravitch: she's serious and, the more she learned, the more critical she became. She has done comparisons of the U.S and Finnish systems: Finland has one of the most successful systems. She points out that one of the main differences is not much salary differences, just respect for the teachers. And No Child left Behind is a sign of disrespect for the teachers. It says that you shouldn't teach, you should just be a disciplinarian who makes the children go through this material and regurgitate it, and test and go on. That's not teaching, and it's just another sign of disrespect for teachers: it means that you can't do imaginative things which will stimulate children interests because that takes them away from tests.

Robichaud: And at one point, do you think intellectual self-defense courses are more crucial for the kids and our future than what is traditionally learned in school?

Chomsky: What's important for a person, at any level, is cultivating their own abilities to think for themselves. To inquire, like the 6th grade kid who wants to look into some other topic: to just encourage those elements of a person's nature. Every child has it: that's why kids are asking questions all the time, and can drive their parents crazy with questions because they want things to make sense, to understand it and so on. And that can be encouraged from a young child to graduate school. Then, it doesn't really matter what you learn, because you are capable of learning what matters to you. In fact, there's a standard line here, at MIT. There used to be this world-famous physicist who taught freshman classes in physics, and was famous for when he was asked in class: "What are we going to cover this semester?". He would say: it doesn't matter what we'll cover, it matters what you discover. That's education. Once you've cultivated that talent, you're ready for whatever next challenge will come along. There's some things you have to learn: you have to learn arithmetic and things like that, but for the most part, you have to learn to gain the abilities or just allow the abilities to flourish, because... They are ready to confront the next challenge, whatever it'll be. Whether it's some new things that nobody had never thought of.

Robichaud: It is a view that you share with Bertrand Russell, can you talk about that, your inspiration?

Chomsky: (Chomsky points a poster of a portrait of Bertrand Russell) Look behind you : it's one of the reasons why he's up there. He talked about what he called a humanistic education. Actually, I've wrote about it and gave memorial lectures and talks about his conceptions of humanistic education, which are very similar to John Dewey's in the U.S. and go right back to the Enlightenment. Those are core Enlightenment ideas: the essence of human nature is to create, inquire independently, in solidarity with others, and those are capacities that are ought to be cultivated by the schools, in any way.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dwight Atkinson (2011) A Sociocognitive Approach to Second Language Acquisition: How mind, body, and world work together in learning addtional languages.

[This is one of the articles compiled for a class for my graduate students]

Dwight Atkinson (2011) "A Sociocognitive Approach to Second Language Acquisition: How mind, body, and world work together in learning additional languages." in Dwight Atkinson (ed) Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (Routledge) [Paperback, Kindle Edition] (pp. 142-166)

p. 143

Q: Discuss implications of Schelling's phrase "Mind is invisible nature, while nature is visible mind" (or, according to Wikipedia, "Nature is visible Spirit; Spirit is invisible Nature." (Ideen, "Introduction"))

Q: What does the author mean when he says "cognition is a node in an ecological network comprising mind-body-world -- it is part of a relationship."

Q: [For those who like philosophy only] What is the "brain in a vat" argument?

Wikipedia's brief explanation.

In philosophy, the brain in a vat is an element used in a variety of thought experiments intended to draw out certain features of our ideas of knowledge, reality, truth, mind, and meaning. It is based on an idea, common to many science fiction stories, that a mad scientist, machine, or other entity might remove a person's brain from the body, suspend it in a vat of life-sustaining liquid, and connect its neurons by wires to a supercomputer which would provide it with electrical impulses identical to those the brain normally receives. According to such stories, the computer would then be simulating reality (including appropriate responses to the brain's own output) and the person with the "disembodied" brain would continue to have perfectly normal conscious experiences without these being related to objects or events in the real world.

The simplest use of brain-in-a-vat scenarios is as an argument for philosophical skepticism and solipsism. A simple version of this runs as follows: Since the brain in a vat gives and receives exactly the same impulses as it would if it were in a skull, and since these are its only way of interacting with its environment, then it is not possible to tell, from the perspective of that brain, whether it is in a skull or a vat. Yet in the first case most of the person's beliefs may be true (if they believe, say, that they are walking down the street, or eating ice-cream); in the latter case their beliefs are false. Since the argument says one cannot know whether one is a brain in a vat, then one cannot know whether most of one's beliefs might be completely false. Since, in principle, it is impossible to rule out oneself being a brain in a vat, there cannot be good grounds for believing any of the things one believes; a skeptical argument would contend that one certainly cannot know them, raising issues with the definition of knowledge.

The brain in a vat is a contemporary version of the argument given in Hindu Maya illusion, Plato's Allegory of the Cave, Zhuangzi's "Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly", and the evil demon in Rene Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy.

Here is Hilary Putnam's argument from Reason, Truth, and History, chapter 1, pp. 1-21 (Cambridge University Press: 1982)

p. 144

Q: Discuss what the author means by saying "human cognition is first and foremost adaptive intelligence -- it exists primarily to help us survive and prosper in our ecoscocial worlds. Instead of a serial computer, cognition is therefore an open biological system designed by evolution and experience to align sensitively with the ambient environment."

p. 145

Q: What is "extended mind"? Please read my article on Clark and Chalmers (1998)

Q: Which do you think is peculiar, the idea of "extended mind" or that of "disembedded mind"? (You may replace the term "disembedded mind" with "disembodied mind" or "decontextualized mind")

Q: What are "mirror neurons"?

Wikipedia says:

A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observed in primate and other species including birds. In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex and the inferior parietal cortex.

p. 146

What is "joint-attention"? (The text mentions "joint-action," but "joint-attention" is a better known concept)

Here is what Wikipedia says:

Joint attention is the shared focus of two individuals on an object. It is achieved when one individual alerts another to an object by means of eye-gazing, pointing or other verbal or non-verbal indications. An individual gazes at another individual, points to an object and then returns their gaze to the individual. Scaife and Bruner were the first researchers to present a cross-sectional description of children's ability to follow eye gaze in 1975. They found that most eight- to ten-month-old children followed a line of regard, and that all 11- to 14-month-old children did so. This early research showed it was possible for an adult to bring certain objects in the environment to an infant's attention using eye gaze.

Subsequent research demonstrates that two important skills in joint attention are following eye gaze and identifying intention. The ability to share gaze with another individual is an important skill in establishing reference. The ability to identify intention is important in a child's ability to learn language and direct the attention of others. Joint attention is important for many aspects of language development including comprehension, production and word learning. Episodes of joint attention provide children with information about their environment, allowing individuals to establish reference from spoken language and learn words. Socio-emotional development and the ability to take part in normal relationships are also influenced by joint attention abilities. The ability to establish joint attention may be negatively affected by deafness, blindness, and developmental disorders such as autism.

Other animals such as great apes, orangutans, chimpanzees, dogs, and horses also show some elements of joint attention.

p. 147

Q: What is Goodwin (2000) about? Below is the abstract.

Charles Goodwin (2000)

Action and embodiment within situated human interaction

Journal of Pragmatics

Volume 32, Issue 10, September 2000, Pages 1489-1522


A theory of action must come to terms with both the details of language use and the way in which the social, cultural, material and sequential structure of the environment where action occurs figure into its organization. In this paper it will be suggested that a primordial site for the analysis of human language, cognition, and action consists of a situation in which multiple participants are attempting to carry out courses of action in concert with each other through talk while attending to both the larger activities that their current actions are embedded within, and relevant phenomena in their surround. Using as data video recordings of young girls playing hopscotch and archaeologists classifying color, it will be argued that human action is built through the simultaneous deployment of a range of quite different kinds of semiotic resources. Talk itself contains multiple sign systems with alternative properties. Strips of talk gain their power as social action via their placement within larger sequential structures, encompassing activities, and participation frameworks constituted through displays of mutual orientation made by the actors' bodies. The body is used in a quite different way to perform gesture, again a class of phenomena that encompasses structurally different types of sign systems. Both talk and gesture can index, construe or treat as irrelevant, entities in the participants' surround. Moreover, material structure in the surround, such as graphic fields of various types, can provide semiotic structure without which the constitution of particular kinds of action being invoked through talk would be impossible. In brief it will be argued that the construction of action through talk within situated interaction is accomplished through the temporally unfolding juxtaposition of quite different kinds of semiotic resources, and that moreover through this process the human body is made publicly visible as the site for a range of structurally different kinds of displays implicated in the constitution of the actions of the moment.

p. 149

Discuss Sociocognitive approach's five implications for learning. Can you give examples which match them?

(1) learning becomes dynamic adaptivity to -- or alignment with -- the environment;

(2) if cognition extends into the world, then so must learning;

(3) learning primarily involves the thickening of mind-world relations rather than their progressive attenuation;

(4) learning enables action in, more than (abstract) knowledge of, the world; and

(5) we learn through environmental action.

Q: How do you respond to the author's question?

A key sociocognitive claim is that we learn as we live -- that learning and being are integrated processes. As we continuously adapt to our environments, something of that adaptation is retained -- that is, we learn by experience. If this point seems too obvious to mention, then why does mainstream learning theory, including in SLA studies, insist on separating acquisition from use? (p. 149)

p. 150

Q: What is "noncomputational learning" (or "non-representational learning")?

The most sociocognitively promising noncomputational learning research to date is anthropological. This research suggests that learning is not so much extraction of meaning from the environment as increasing (and increasingly meaning-full) participation in it. (p. 150)

p. 151

Q: Defend the following position. (Quote Wittgenstein if you can).

A crucial point here is that learning/teaching/understanding takes place in the world: It is publicly enacted and publicly available. Far from being locked away in cognitive space, learning is effected in the hybrid, partly public forum of sociocognition. (p. 151)

pp. 156-157

Q: What do you think of the following emphases of sociocognitive approach?

1. Emphasis on particularity

2. Emphasis on process

3. Emphasis on holism, integrativeness, and relationality

4. Emphasis on variation

5. Emphasis on concrete experience and performance

6. Emphasis on extended cognition

7. Emphasis on action as inter-action

Related pages:

Atkinson (2010) Extended, Embodied Cognition and Second Language Acquisition

Clark and Chalmers (1998) "The extended mind"

From monotheistic reductionsim to dialectic synthesis -- My thoughts on sociocognitive approach to SLA

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Gabriele Kasper and Johannes Wagner (2011) A Conversation-Analytic Approach to Second Language Acquisition

[This is one of the articles compiled for a class for my graduate students]

Gabriele Kasper and Johannes Wagner (2011) "A Conversation-Analytic Approach to Second Language Acquisition" in Dwight Atkinson (ed) Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (Routledge) [Paperback, Kindle Edition] (pp. 117-142)

p. 117

Q: The authors say "Sense-making draws on social orderliness, and social order is -- at the level of interaction -- achieved through participants' action and practices. (p. 117)" What is sense-meaning?

p. 118 Q: What is interaction order? Below is a quick introduction.

The authors say that interaction order is found in in the "methods" (procedures/practices) that social members recurrently and systematically use to achieve, maintain, and restore intersubjectivity in their practical activities. (p. 118)

Here is what Goffman said (1983: 2): "My concern over the years has been to promote acceptance of this face-to-face domain as an analytically viable one - a domain which might be titled, for want of any happy name, the interaction order - a domain whose preferred method of study is micro analysis." (Taken from

Q: What is interactional competence? Explain in your own words.

See the definition according to SIL International: "Interactional competence involves knowing and using the mostly-unwritten rules for interaction in various communication situations within a given speech community and culture. It includes, among other things, knowing how to initiate and manage conversations and negotiate meaning with other people. It also includes knowing what sorts of body language, eye contact, and proximity to other people are appropriate, and acting accordingly." (taken from

Q: Sometimes, the fifth area of "interaction" is added to the traditional four areas of "reading, writing, listening, and speaking" in theories of language teaching. How would you justify the addition? Use the concepts of "interaction order" and "interactional competence" in the justification.

The authors say that nteractional competence cannot be reduced to an individual, intrapsychological property; nor can it be separated from "performance" (p. 118). Why not?

p. 119

Q: Some people say that using a language IS learning a language. Try to justify this position by using the authors' argument on interactional competence as "both a fundamental condition for and object of learning." (p. 119)

Q: Explain the interrelation of interaction and grammar: (1) grammar organizes social interaction; (2) social interaction organizes grammar; and (3) grammar is a mode of interaction. (p.119)

p. 120

Q: The authors say that "CA relocates cognition from its traditional habitat in the privacy of people's minds to the arena of social interaction" and that a motivate for participation in interaction is "not a matter of volition but a system constraint of interaction." (p. 120) Explain.

pp. 121-122

Q: How is the concept of identity in CA different from that in poststructuralist theories or that in the cognitivist SLA theories?

p. 122

Q: What is the empirical advantage of CA identity study over poststructuralist identity research?

Q: Explain why CA takes an agnostic position.

p. 123

Q: Read the section of Data Quality and summarize the research methods of CA. (Use terms such as "data-driven," "naturally occurring," and "nonlinguistic behavior."


Q: Explain the following passage: "language learners seem to have a licence to do things others speakers rarely do, for example produce hesitant and delayed turns, code shift, or ask for help and explanations. The behaviours are accountable for L1 speakers and reflexively create the identity of a L2 learner. In other words, identity as a learner can be made relevant -- or not." (pp. 126-127)

p. 137

The authors suggest that CA should develop a relationship with ethnomethodology and discursive psychology.

Here is a quick explanation of discursive psychology from Wikipedia.

Discursive psychology (DP) is a form of discourse analysis that focuses on psychological themes.

Discursive psychology starts with psychological phenomena as things that are constructed, attended to, and understood in interaction. An evaluation, say, may be constructed using particular phrases and idioms, responded to by the recipient (as a compliment perhaps) and treated as the expression of a strong position. In discursive psychology the focus is not on psychological matters somehow leaking out into interaction; rather interaction is the primary site where psychological issues are live.

It is philosophically opposed to more traditional cognitivist approaches to language. It uses studies of naturally occurring conversation to critique the way that topics have been conceptualised and treated in psychology.


Discursive psychology was developed in the 1990s by Jonathan Potter and Derek Edwards at Loughborough University. It draws on the philosophy of mind of Ryle and the later Wittgenstein, the rhetorical approach of Michael Billig, the ethnomethodology of Harold Garfinkel and the conversation analysis of Harvey Sacks.


Discursive psychology conducts studies of both naturally occurring and experimentally engineered human interaction that offer new ways of understanding topics in social and cognitive psychology such as memory and attitudes. Although discursive psychology subscribes to a different view of human mentality than is advanced by mainstream psychology, Edwards and Potter's work was originally motivated by their dissatisfaction with how psychology had treated discourse. In many psychological studies, the things people (subjects) say are treated as windows (with varying degrees of opacity) into their minds. Talk is seen as (and in experimental psychology and protocol analysis used as) descriptions of people's mental content. In contrast, discursive psychology treats talk as social action; that is, we say what we do as a means of, and in the course of, doing things in a socially meaningful world. Thus, the questions that it makes sense to ask also change.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ken Robinson: How to escape education's death valley (with excerpts)

This video, a third one by Ken Robinson on education, describes misconceptions about current school education system and gives hope of recreating it. This is a message that all policy makers on education must listen to.

Ken Robinson: How to escape education's death valley

FILMED APR 2013, POSTED MAY 2013 TED Talks Education

Below are some words from the video (all available from the video site; some words are colored and emphasized by me).


"There are three principles on which human life flourishes, and they are contradicted by the culture of education under which most teachers have to labor and most students have to endure."

"The first is this, that human beings are naturally different and diverse. ...

Education under No Child Left Behind is based on not diversity but conformity. What schools are encouraged to do is to find out what kids can do across a very narrow spectrum of achievement."

"The second principle that drives human life flourishing is curiosity. If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance, very often. ...

Now the reason I say this is because one of the effects of the current culture here, if I can say so, has been to de-professionalize teachers. Teachers are the lifeblood of the success of schools. But teaching is a creative professionTeaching, properly conceived, is not a delivery system. You know, you're not there just to pass on received information. Great teachers do that, but what great teachers also do is mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage. ...

The role of a teacher is to facilitate learning. That's it. And part of the problem is, I think, that the dominant culture of education has come to focus on not teaching and learning, but testing.

Now testing is important. Standardized tests have a place. But they should not be the dominant culture of education. They should be diagnostic. They should help. ...

But all that should support learning. It shouldn't obstruct it, which of course it often does. So in place of curiosity, what we have is a culture of compliance.  Our children and teachers are encouraged to follow routine algorithms rather than to excite that power of imagination and curiosity."

"And the third principle is this: that human life is inherently creative. It's why we all have different résumés. We create our lives, and we can recreate them as we go through them. It's the common currency of being a human being. It's why human culture is so interesting and diverse and dynamic. ...

We all create our own lives through this restless process of imagining alternatives and possibilities, and what one of the roles of education is to awaken and develop these powers of creativity. Instead, what we have is a culture of standardization. ...

But what all the high-performing systems in the world do is currently what is not evident, sadly, across the systems in America -- I mean, as a whole.

One is this: They individualize teaching and learning. They recognize that it's students who are learning and the system has to engage them, their curiosity, their individuality, and their creativity. That's how you get them to learn.

The second is that they attribute a very high status to the teaching profession. They recognize that you can't improve education if you don't pick great people to teach and if you don't keep giving them constant support and professional development. ...

And the third is, they devolve responsibility to the school level for getting the job done. You see, there's a big difference here between going into a mode of command of control in education -- That's what happens in some systems. You know, central governments decide or state governments decide they know best and they're going to tell you what to do. The trouble is that education doesn't go on in the committee rooms of our legislative buildings. It happens in classrooms and schools, and the people who do it are the teachers and the students, and if you remove their discretion, it stops working. You have to put it back to the people.

There is wonderful work happening in this country. But I have to say it's happening in spite of the dominant culture of education, not because of it. It's like people are sailing into a headwind all the time. And the reason I think it is this: that many of the current policies are based on mechanistic conceptions of education. It's like education is an industrial process that can be improved just by having better data, and somewhere in, I think, the back of the mind of some policy makers is this idea that if we fine-tune it well enough, if we just get it right, it will all hum along perfectly into the future. It won't, and it never did.

The point is that education is not a mechanical system. It's a human system. It's about people, people who either do want to learn or don't want to learn. Every student who drops out of school has a reason for it which is rooted in their own biography. They may find it boring. They may find it irrelevant. They may find that 't's at odds with the life they're living outside of school. There are trends, but the stories are always unique. ...

So I think we have to embrace a different metaphor. We have to recognize that it's a human system, and there are conditions under which people thrive, and conditions under which they don't. We are after all organic creatures, and the culture of the school is absolutely essential. Culture is an organic term, isn't it?"

"The real role of leadership in education -- and I think it's true at the national level, the state level, at the school level -- is not and should not be command and control. The real role of leadership is climate control, creating a climate of possibility. And if you do that, people will rise to it and achieve things that you completely did not anticipate and couldn't have expected."

"There's a wonderful quote from Benjamin Franklin. "There are three sorts of people in the world: Those who are immovable, people who don't get, they don't want to get it, they're not going to do anything about it. There are people who are movable, people who see the need for change and are prepared to listen to it. And there are people who move, people who make things happen." And if we can encourage more people, that will be a movement. And if the movement is strong enough, that's, in the best sense of the word, a revolution. And that's what we need.

Thank you very much. Thank you very much."

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

L. Ortega (2011) SLA after the Social Turn

L. Ortega (2011) "SLA after the Social Turn" in Dwight Atkinson (ed) Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (Routledge) [Paperback, Kindle Edition ] (pp. 95-116)

P. 167

Q: Do you think SLA studies in your country have experienced a "social turn"? If not, why? (This ought to be a serious sociological question).

Q: Do you agree that alternative approaches to SLA have brought unique insights and epistemological diversity?

Q: What is the main contention of Sfard (1998) by which Ortega says she was inspired? See the abstract below.

On Two Metaphors for Learning and the Dangers of Choosing Just One

Anna Sfard, teaches mathematics education as a member of the Faculty of Education

doi: 10.3102/0013189X027002004
EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER March 1998 vol. 27 no. 2 4-13

This article is a sequel to the conversation on learning initiated by the editors of Educational Researcher in volume 25, number 4. The author’s first aim is to elicit the metaphors for learning that guide our work as learners, teachers, and researchers. Two such metaphors are identified: the acquisition metaphor and the participation metaphor. Subsequently, their entailments are discussed and evaluated. Although some of the implications are deemed desirable and others are regarded as harmful, the article neither speaks against a particular metaphor nor tries to make a case for the other. Rather, these interpretations and applications of the metaphors undergo critical evaluation. In the end, the question of theoretical unification of the research on learning is addressed, wherein the purpose is to show how too great a devotion to one particular metaphor can lead to theoretical distortions and to undesirable practices.

P. 168

Q: See the contrasts below and discuss the differences between cognitivism and its alternatives.


Psychological - Socially oriented

In the mind of an individual - Socially distributed and have history

Individual accomplishment - Only possible through sociality

Abstractness (transferable) - Situatedness (embodiment and embeddedness)

Entities and objects - Actions and processes

P. 170

Q: What is a "straitjacket of dichotomous thinking"?

Q: What is "SCT's singular contribution," according to Ortega?

Q: What is "the unique insight of the sociocognitive approach," according to Ortega?  Read the leading paragraphs of "embodied cognition" in Wikipedia (obtained on Feb. 5, 2013. Note indicators deleted)

In philosophy, the embodied mind thesis holds that the nature of the human mind is largely determined by the form of the human body. Philosophers, psychologists, cognitive scientists, and artificial intelligence researchers who study embodied cognition and the embodied mind argue that all aspects of cognition are shaped by aspects of the body. The aspects of cognition include high level mental constructs (such as concepts and categories) and human performance on various cognitive tasks (such as reasoning or judgement). The aspects of the body include the motor system, the perceptual system, the body's interactions with the environment (situatedness) and the ontological assumptions about the world that are built into the body and the brain.

The embodied mind thesis is opposed to other theories of cognition such as cognitivism, computationalism, and Cartesian dualism. The idea has roots in Kant and 20th century continental philosophy (such as Merleau-Ponty). The modern version depends on insights drawn from recent research in psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, dynamical systems, artificial intelligence, robotics and neurobiology.

Embodied cognition is a topic of research in social and cognitive psychology, covering issues such as social interaction and decision-making. Embodied cognition reflects the argument that the motor system influences our cognition, just as the mind influences bodily actions. For example, when participants hold a pencil in their teeth engaging the muscles of a smile, they comprehend pleasant sentences faster than unpleasant ones. And it works in reverse: holding a pencil in their teeth to engage the muscles of a frown increases the time it takes to comprehend pleasant sentences.

George Lakoff (a cognitive scientist and linguist) and his collaborators (including Mark Johnson, Mark Turner, and Rafael E. Nunez) have written a series of books promoting and expanding the thesis based on discoveries in cognitive science, such as conceptual metaphor and image schema.

Robotics researchers such as Rodney Brooks, Hans Moravec and Rolf Pfeifer have argued that true artificial intelligence can only be achieved by machines that have sensory and motor skills and are connected to the world through a body. The insights of these robotics researchers have in turn inspired philosophers like Andy Clark and Horst Hendriks-Jansen.

Neuroscientists Gerald Edelman, Antonio Damasio and others have outlined the connection between the body, individual structures in the brain and aspects of the mind such as consciousness, emotion, self-awareness and will. Biology has also inspired Gregory Bateson, Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela, Eleanor Rosch and Evan Thompson to develop a closely related version of the idea, which they call enactivism. The motor theory of speech perception proposed by Alvin Liberman and colleagues at the Haskins Laboratories argues that the identification of words is embodied in perception of the bodily movements by which spoken words are made.

P. 172

Q: What is "the most unique contribution of identity theory," according to Ortega?

P. 175

Q: What does the following sentence mean? "It is as alternatives to interactionist cognitivism, and not so much to linguistic cognitivism, that the approaches in this book can best be understood." (emphasis added)

P. 176

Q: What does the following sentence mean? "We have a choice in SLA studies among entrenchment, incommensurability, and epistemological diversity." (emphasis added) See Wikipedia's definition of (in)commensurability below. (obtained on Feb. 5, 2013)

Commensurability (contrast with incommensurability) is a concept in the philosophy of science. Scientific theories are described as commensurable if one can compare them to determine which is more accurate; if theories are incommensurable, there is no way in which one can compare them to each other in order to determine which is more accurate.

P. 178

Q: Do you agree or disagree with the conclusion by Ortega: "For me, the crisis caused by the social turn in SLA has led the field into the kind of fruitful epistemological diversity that affords unique opportunities to enrich our multilayered understanding of additional language learning."

Ortega, L. (2008) Understanding Second Language Acquisition Routledge.