On Top Of Eachother



Parents do it, teachers do it, and even governments do it: telling stories to convey a message with the intent to influence and direct. ‘Dominant’ educative narratives must be transferred someway, some how. Tales, stories, and written accounts can do the job. It is no big revelation that what is conveyed in them is perspective related and value-laden – stories are definitely meant to influence. In doing so, they express power and establish a dominance relationship. Up to this point one could say this summarizes more or less what sociology of knowledge has revealed already (1): transferring knowledge (be it in education or elsewhere) is governed by power relations. It has been said numerous times by many, so revealing it here once more without annotation would just express another power relation (i.e., authorizing a truism on the Internet). Moving beyond the obvious would mean not only to admit the value-ladenness of what and how we communicate but in particular to stress the responsibilities that goes along with telling a particular story in that way. This holds both for whom who exerts power as well those under power. For the teller of a story it means to warrant and ground a perspective and state the intent for bringing up a message. For the receiver it means to claim opportunity to (re)value and appraise a story with regard to its nature, origin, and intent. In short: Conveying a message requires cognitive justice (2). This essentially means respecting each others integrity in holding certain beliefs and having consideration for conceptions being cherished, not overruling them by position or narrative force. Cognitive justice expresses the ethical nature of knowledge.

This became vividly exemplified in reading a Taiwanese study on children’s’ history books used during the Martial law period in Taiwan. Abundantly clearly shown in the study was the position expressed in the analyzed stories in favor of the nationalist’s position against mainland China. The study reveals how children were confronted with a dominant narrative in the strongest sense.

Was that bad to do, ethically speaking? Every story expresses an intention; why otherwise tell it. It is not the story to blame, stupid! In another context the story probably would ‘signify’ completely different meanings i.e., for mainland china readers or students of sociology of knowledge. This leaves us to look at the interpretations that are attributed by teller and listener; and actually to be more precise, the space between them in allowing for diversity in interpretation and meaning making. This is not to advocate that every story needs to be de-constructed to the bone (the message can be lost during the process) but to say that the intentional ‘meaning-making space’ created by storytelling needs to led by cognitive justice: the willingness on part of the power owner to respect the integrity of beliefs of the listener, i.e., the pupil, the one less in power. Led not by pushing down content but by giving credit to the listener in enabling to lift understanding. Storytelling, indeed, has layers to be respected (3).

Power Relations in Creating and Distributing Official Knowledge in Children’s Literature: Historical Picture of Taiwan by LIN-MIAO LU Kainan University Luzhu, Taiwan
Published in Curriculum Inquiry 44:5 (2014) 620-645; by The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto ; Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc www.doi: 10.1111/curi.12065


1. http://www.irenees.net/bdf_fiche-notions-242_en.html
2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276062968_Cognitive_Justice_in_teaching_and_learning
3. http://www.storyteller.net/articles/187





Digital Playgrounds


Gaming is a serious business. This is not to refer to the international contests for gamers to win considerable prize money or the huge communities in game play and -development (1). Gaming is not for geeks anymore; it has grown into a widespread, common leisure activity for all to participate in. Actually, it is more than a way to pass the time, or get into contacts with other gamers, for instance through massively multiplayer online role-playing games, MMORPG’s (1). Above all, it is to enter a world of meaning giving and self-discovery. In interaction with a game play a lot is learned about oneself: on handling stress, persistence, ability, shrewdness, and so forth. Almost the real thing, so it would seem, but is it? We are passed the debate on whether gaming can be educative; it is (2) . In fact, gaming can be considered as an activity in identity formation. By creating virtual self’s, gaming opens up ways to reflect about oneself and discover insights in journeys undertaken through the quests offered in a game. As such it is a practice of becoming a person.
An interesting article discusses the issue whether gaming blurs the distinction between the inside and outside, between control in gaming and agency in reality. We all are aware of frightening occurrences that reach us through the news where such a distinction has failed, and an isolated person committed a act of cruelty (3). The position paper proposed we welcome the digital opportunity of gaming to discover identity and “the transformative power of digital agency and production, the heightened consciousness of human relationality, and the ritualized and reflective practice of gaming”.

Gaming is here to stay, gaining in reality resemblance. The interaction between a gamer and virtual contexts offered increasingly will become more sophisticated. But that does not mean the gamer will become a more moral, reflective, relational person or have a “polyphonic digital identity” (as mentioned in article). The thing with games is that they provide contexts (“worlds”) to play in, but no contesting of (moral) choices made. There is no ‘other’ as a real person to question and challenge game experiences. A gamer remains a tragic hero. It is not like a playground at the schoolyard where there is interactional modification (by peers or supervision). It would be great to add that to game play.

This article: Karen-Marie Yust (2015) Digital play as a spiritually formative activity, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 20:2, 129-138, DOI:10.1080/1364436X.2015.1055459
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1364436X.2015.1055459

sum 44

1. www.steam.com
2. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-video-games-are-the-future-of-education/
3. http://www.mmorpg.com/
4. http://theweek.com/articles/451660/psychology-video-game-addiction

True Lies


Pinocchio’s truth is that he lies. It is for everyone to see. His nose will tell. We lack that ability of his. It is for better and worse. For parents it can be a nuisance not to see a growing nose when your child is tampering with the truth. Luckily reality will often tell shortly afterwards whether a lie actually had been told – lies will not last. The unfortunate thing is that damage may already have occurred. It would be a relief to know in advance if a lie was to be told: e.g., Pinocchio telling that “my nose will grow (the so-called Pinocchio’s Paradox (1)). It is similar to a child saying: “ No, I will not eat that chocolate”. Knowing in advance if truth or Lie is present would, of course, make all the difference. But we cannot foretell the future; only estimate intentions based on our experience. To detect a lie then comes down to know one’s adherents. So, how well do parents do in detecting a true lie of their sprouts?
The cited study looked at parents’ predictions of their own child’s peeking behavior. It turned out that in almost 60% of the cases the parent could estimate correctly whether the child was lying or not. Mothers did a bit worse and with the child’s age the predictions got worse as well. Almost 60%, that is close to chance.

Would this result hold for teachers and pupils as well? How often does it not occur that a teacher asks before giving an assignment: “And, can you do it now on your own…?”, while the pupil nods in agreement but fears differently. It would imply considerable teacher knowledge of a student or “teacher’s learner knowledge” (3) to spot fabrications. A kind of real-time ‘dynamic assessment’ (4) would be in order to see whether the student speaks truthfully about what is on her or his mind. The best approach seems to be building a firm and stable relationship with a student; but, as the study shows, it still is not a guarantee. Educators and parents tend to think favorably about those who are entrusted to them. The truth is that understanding true lies tells more about intentions than honesty of a child.


Victoria Talwar, Sarah-Jane Renaud & Lauryn Conway (2015) Detecting children’s lies: Are parents accurate judges of their own children’s lies?, Journal of Moral Education, 44:1, 81-96,
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03057240.2014.1002459



1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinocchio_paradox
2. http://study.com/academy/lesson/dynamic-assessment-definition-process-examples.html
3. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb98/vol55/num05/Teacher-Learning-That-Supports-Student-Learning.aspx