The Text-Event and the Educator

It’s the Sunday night of a long week and I have the vague, confused and grimy feeling of someone who just lost a fight with an old, dirty fog machine. There’s a level of confusion that comes on me at this time of night that is so strangely blended with moments of clarity that, unless I’m very busy, I tend to avoid it. But I want to try to take the post from yesterday and bring it into a more practical context, and also another shot at describing the feedbook… so here goes.Language-games are one of the central concepts that I’m going to babble about, so, having just copped out and used wikipedia for my last post, maybe I’ll address them a little more here. Language is alive. A word, out of context, has little meaning. -monkey- This is a word that i’ve used as a nickname for a friend of mine, it’s an animal, it can be an insult an endearment or, i would bet somewhere in the world, a foul tasting and instantly inebrating drink. A quick translation of a word from one culture to another will give even clearer examples. They mean something when they are part of a text-event. When language is used in a text event, Wittgenstein referred to them as being subject to various rules including grammatical rules but more importantly for this conversation also including societal rules. These rules can be seen as applying to a game stipulated by the circumstances of the text-event. You have entered into a language-game. You can ‘win’ the language game by successfully following all the rules and coming to any number of successful outcomes. You ‘lose’ a language game by not following the rules.

Anyway, to return to fog. That vague feeling of confusion and desire for low level avoidance is same feeling that comes over me when i feel like I don’t understand what is going on. Lets use a live example. As I made up the word last week, and since this may be the only website that ever uses it for the purpose that I had in mind when I first wrote it, let me use it to give you a feeling of what I mean.

I really like feedbooks. They are just what’s needed for education. (obviously not an introduction that’s going to make you feel comfortable, unless your the sort that has either the patience, or the personality, to enjoy/endure the speech of the prophet)

A feedbook is a collection of RSS feeds amassed in an OPML. (This is a little clearer, it defines the feedbook, and, given definitions for the other terms, would define to us what the word means. It tells us very little about the ‘text-event’… what would it mean to use the word.)

A feedbook is a collection of RSS feeds amassed in an OPML and used as the central (or peripheral) learning ‘text’ for a class. (We now have a context, in a classroom and a comparison to a physical textbook with which to make sense of some of the meaning of the word. Some people could begin to imagine how they could use the word, and understand it when it was used by others.)

A feedbook is a collection of blogs and podcasts that each student would have delivered to them like a personalized newspaper. (This example offers a little more context, a more experiential example of the kinds of things you could do with a feedbook. It’s a newspaper. We read daily stories and talk about them. This is different from talking about a ‘textbook’, which is static and passive in the event that takes place in the classroom)

The question is, when explaining something to people who aren’t already invested, how do we explain something so that they feel that they will have a fair chance of ‘winnning’ the language-game if they were to start it.

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