His original and radical pedagogy of memory, which conceptualizes historical knowledge as a social right and collective good, has its roots in French critical theory, although the influence of cultural and postcolonial studies is also strong. For Simon, historical consciousness is a form of moral awareness leading us to seek meaning in the past significations practice and encouraging us to recover traces and signs of the past in our present texts, material residues, artifacts, pictures, oral testimonies, etc.
On the contrary, despite multiple mediations latent in historical communication at every level, primary sources embody life worlds and constitute webs of manifold meanings and experiences. Wineburg, who suggests that history is an antidote to our existential inability to understand the alien-ness of the past and is thereby a means for cultivating our sensibilities about and awareness of methodological impediments to making sense of the past as experienced and understood by our predecessors,58 Simon advocates approaches to history education rejected by conventional school history.
Without excluding the supplementary use of secondary sources, this would be based mainly on primary historical material. Immersion in collective memory and engagement with the historical canon can reveal the multiple and alternative possibilities inhering in history as experience as well as interpretation. Simon61 suggests that escape from the closed horizons of present-centred history, access to the universality of historical experience, and affirmation of the mutual intelligibility of cultural systems, is possible.
Under this scope, he defines historical awareness not as an intellectual state but rather as a social praxis, as a totality of historically determined practices. It enables resistance to ideological manipulation by resurrecting the stories of the forgotten, the beaten and the powerless. It also makes us aware of the gaps and the blind spots in our own identities and readings of history. He does not approach social memory as a set of one-dimensional rituals, images, emotions and narrative practices that shape and internalize collective identity whilst minimizing diversity in the public sphere.
For Simon the most important constituents of social memory are the consensual disciplinary traditions which enable democratic coexistence, mutual understanding and deliberation. Of course, disciplinary. Given these ethical preconditions, consensual disciplinary traditions presuppose and, at the same time, promote historical understanding from both the inside and the outside, awareness of the universality of the human condition and, in consequence, the elimination of partial perspectives on past, present and future.
On the contrary, it requires memories of the past to be reconstituted in different and multidimensional terms. In sum, memories of the past must be reconstituted in ways that familiarize us with the multiple diversities of the historical world, on the one hand, and alienate us from closed horizons of identity and prisons of partiality, on the other hand. We have a duty to listen to the plural voices of the past and to reflect on such unrealized possibilities as the moral superiority of the forgotten, the disappeared and the defeated.
If the past is kept alive and multidimensional, then the present necessarily remains open to alternative possibilities and hope for a better future is also kept alive, albeit not in the sense of a progresscentered rationality nor in that of an eschatological and salvation-promising future. This aim does not presuppose literal identification with people in the past. Nevertheless, inclusion of primary historical testimony into appropriately designed and organized school environments should not be either mechanical or casual but should demand respect for methodological principles, rules and practices established by the disciplinary community.
It should also demand the cognitive and moral commitment of contemporaries willing to render retrospective historical justice to predecessors, to accept responsibility for injustice in the present, and to commit to the vision of a changing world. The simultaneous distancing of students from the present and their contact with various aspects of the traumatic and controversial past can be effected by the juxtaposition of chosen testimonies with different kinds of historical sources, e. Such juxtapositions can leave memory traces, or memory-images, that discourage oblivion by being easily recalled whilst encapsulating structural elements of the historical era or facts under study.
Memory traces do not register passive interaction or empathy with the past. They are dynamic in nature and motivate intellectual, moral and political commitment and action towards discovery of unexploited possibilities hidden in the past and the present. In this way, critical study of the past, particularly of the controversial and traumatic past as experienced by different individuals and groups, is transformed into a means of decoding the meaning of the present and creating a vision of the future.
Conclusions As Elizabeth A. Cole notes, at the turn of the first decade of the 21st century, we are finally equipped with the appropriate moral, theoretical, conceptual and cognitive capital — along with the legal prerequisites — to mange traumatic memory and to cross social dividing lines created by past tortures, mass rapes, civil wars, losses of national sovereignty, ethnic cleansings, genocides and the Holocaust.
A post-conflict historical consciousness can only exist in organic relation to the concept of reconciliation. Reconciliation need not depend upon commonality of world views or even-handed compromise between of mutually exclusive interests. From victims it is likely to require forgiveness, tolerance of difference and diversity, historical awareness, and commitment to coexistence within a binding context of principles, values and practices.
Reconciliation does not imply an ideal situation of harmony at the intrastate or international levels. It entails a condition of creative forgetfulness distinct from the radical annulment of - or genuine amnesia about - singular historical experiences in its use thereof as signifying compasses for the present and the future. Reconciliation, then, must be considered as a long, painful and mutually binding process of collective self-understanding framed by measures of public recognition and vindication of victims. In particular, there are significant gaps in the design, implementation and evaluation of educational policies and pedagogical interventions intended to alleviate or heal traumas left by borderline conflicts and violence in the historical consciousness of the new generations of students.
Therefore, new tools for decoding and explaining informal representations and accounts of the past are as necessary as more traditional educational interventions. In the latter connection, the inclusion of ideologically, politically or experientially controversial facts within the curriculum may be futile, if not dangerous, unless teachers are aware of and know how to handle the sensibilities of particular student groups. Above and beyond conditions particular to individual schools and classrooms, the curriculum must be responsive to collective deliberations at the.
In other words, the school, with respect to the teaching of history in particular, cannot be allowed to function as an independent agent for the reconstruction of historical consciousness. If a society is not ready to look at its reflection in the mirror, if it still considers historical education to be an instrument of historical and ideological correction that instils uncontested and value-free truths, then the educational project cannot proceed. Paradoxically, tough, I will finish this paper using these exact rhetorical techniques.
Of course, we should not forget that even household animals do not dismiss their wild nature which remains hidden. In the second case we would refer to the painful process of memory which partly at least can offer relief, though. In this sense we cannot allow blind memory and opposing emotional charges about the past to guide the collective imagination and the public reasoning, since this would lead in its extreme to the rupture of the connective ties of a society.
On the other hand we also cannot fantasize against the delicate handling we are complied to do when we have to deal with collective. Obviously, I disagree with those who believe that public discussion about the sub judice past and more importantly the political will, both in national and international or supranational level, can by definition disarm the explosive load of trauma and conflict.
These gods lived in the hearts of oaks, in the swift, deep water, and could not been driven out of them Where are they? In the desert, on the heath, in the forest? Yes, but also end especially at home. They are also responsible for the creation of new connecting bonds of the welding web which will replace the decayed essence of our old collective self. Professor of Contemporary History at the Institut de Langues et Civilisations Orientales Inalco and writer of numerous books on the history of colonialism, the Algerian War and Algerian immigration to France.
See the special issue of the International Society for History Didactics Most interesting were the contributions of Winfried Schulze and Luigi Cajani Essential documents on the attempt to penalize historical memory can be found at the Network of Concerned Historians -Resources Burke, Peter , p. Burke explains that the strong interest in historical memories is a reaction to threats posed by the acceleration of social and cultural change.
History theorists, like Hayden White, seem to gloat over this anomic situation of an almost radical loss of provisionally binding historical meaning based on academic historiography. Historiography, according to White, is not able to arbitrate interpretations promoted by historical subjects, that is, different groups struggling for hegemony within the public sphere. Tzvetan Todorov points out that collective memory has undergone a transformation, since victims and not heroes become the principal center of attention, and injustices become more important than achievements p.
Stora, Benjamin a , pp. Also see Suleiman, Susan Rubin , pp. Alexandros Teneketzis describes a very vivid image of polyphony and interdisciplinarity marking the field of memory studies, in Teneketzis , wherein he offers comments about the International Convention on this topic, held at the Catholic University of Portugal, December , The EU Council of Ministers established April , is a framework designed, amongst other things, to combat racism, xenophobia and, in particular, actions undermining democratic legitimacy.
In the name of discrediting the negation of Holocaust, this text indirectly attacks, according to several European historians, historical research and the freedom of speech. The text is available at the site of Network of Concerned Historians, Resources, op. See Evans , p. About the representations of memory wars in school textbooks, see Procacci, Giuliano About the moral dimension of memory from a philosophical point of vies, see Blustein, Jeffrey See Golsan, Richard J.
Also see Suleiman , op. Chaumont, Jean-Michel. The term refers to the paradigm of historiography which became dominant during the second half of the 20th century.
In relation to the above see Burke, Peter In his Freudian approach, Dominick LaCapra defines trauma as an experience of disembodiment leading to an existential angst that is hard to control and heal LaCapra  , pp. He also considered the negation of excavation of historical facts out of the depths of forced or instrumental oblivion as self-evident. The case of the autobiographical book of a recently deceased important musician, Giannis Zouganelis, in which individual experiences of military occupation and the Greek Civil War are described, is most interesting.
Zouganelis, Giannis Also see Karagatsi, Marina Although in the case of the two previous books the personal experience of history has a dominant position, there is a series of others where the personal adventures of the characters observe and gain meaning through collective historical events and multiple interpretations. LaCapra, op. For example, S. Schama and J. Den Heyer, op. For more regarding the pedagogical management of divisive issues both in terms of history education and democratic citizenship education in a world of accelerating democratic egalitarianism, multiplicity and fragmentation see Hess, Diana Andriakena, E.
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Chaumont, J. Cole, E. Introduction: Reconciliation and History Education. In Cole, Elizabeth A. History Education and Reconciliation. The practice of everyday life. Steven Rendall, Trans. Histoire et psychanalyseentre science et fiction. Paris: Gallimard. Den Heyer, K. A Dialogue on Narrative and Historical Concsiousness.
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Simon Ed. The Touch of the Past. Remembrance, Learning, and Ethics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Erll, A. Cultural Memory Studies. An International and Interdisciplinary Handbook. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter. Evans, R. On the Current State of History. Yerxa Ed. Historians in Conversation. Falaise, B. Blanchard and I. Veyrat-Masson Eds. Ferro, M. Les Tabous de L'Histoire, Pocket vol. Fette, J. Apologizing for Vichy in Contemporary France. Berg and B. Schaefer Eds. New York: Cambridge University Press.
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Levstik and C. Tyson Eds. New York and London: Routledge. Houzouri, E. Athens: Kedros. Iliou, P. The memory of history, and the amnesia of nations. Iliou Ed. Historical cultural site. Athens: Greek Ministry of Culture. International Society for History Didactics. Judt, T. A History of Europe since New York: Penguin Press. Reappraisals, Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century. London and New York: Penguin Books.
Karagatsi, M. Athens: Agra. Kitson, A. History Teaching and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Cole Ed. Kokkinos, G. Kourtovik, D. Athens: Ellinika Grammata. LaCapra, D. Writing History, Writing Trauma. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Lamont, W. Lamont Ed. London: UCL Press.
Lee, P. Approaching the concept of historical education. Progression in Historical Understanding among Students Ages Sterns, P. Seixas, and S. Wineburg Eds. Knowing, Teaching and Learning History. National and International Perspectives. Thinking Historically. Educating Students for the Twenty-First Century. Maier, C. The American Historical Review, , Mazower, M. How the Nazis Ruled Europe. Greek translation by Kostas Kouremenos.
Athens: Alexandria. Network of Concerned Historians —Resources. Nikolaidou, S. Nora, P. The Reasons for the Current Upsurge in Memory. La memoria controversa. Revisionismi, nationalismi e fondamentalismi nei manuali di storia. Network of Concerned Historians, Resources. Schlesinger, A. The Disuniting of America. Reflections on a Multicultural Society.
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About this book
Zouganelis, G. Athens: Gavrieledes. Abstract This paper examines reasons for our failure to learn needful lessons from the past. Significant weaknesses in mainstream pedagogy include failure to allow for the fact that a many of the ideas and assumptions which students bring to history lessons pre-empt and distort their understanding of what is taught; b students have difficulty in organizing information into coherent and meaningful wholes, with much content fragmenting into disconnected topics and stories; c students need to be taught how to learn from the past as well as to learn about it; and, above all, d clear answers can only be given to questions about what students should learn about and from the past and about the discipline of history once we have determined how they should use this knowledge and why society is likely to benefit thereby.
The Trojan Horse model in which history is used as a vehicle for teaching transferable skills and socially necessary knowledge. The social education model in which students are taught both about and how to learn and not learn from the past without prescription of or limitation on what lessons are learned.
The theoretical and practical strengths and weaknesses of approaches to history education based on these three models are compared and contrasted. Approaches based on the Trojan Horse model pose fewest pedagogical challenges but, insofar as there is no compelling reason to suppose teaching about the past to be the sole or optimum means to instrumentally valued ends, theoretical justifications for the inclusion of history in the school curriculum reduce to arguments from convenience. While the practicality and potency of social engineering approaches in authoritarian societies is well attested, it is questionable whether they could or should be made to work in liberal.
For a variety of reasons, the most theoretically robust approaches - those based on the social education model - are the most difficult to implement in practice. In particular, some attempts to provide students with the conceptual apparatus necessary to learn from the past have been misguided and, positive results from small scale projects notwithstanding, it is far from certain that what students need to know can be taught and learned in ways that render it usable.
In sum, for students to learn from the past, we must choose between pedagogies with theoretical penalties and ones posing risks in practice, between those that compromise the integrity of the subject and those that remain unproven with normal range students in mainstream schools. Indeed, on occasions our failure to learn from the past has owed much to the successful transmission of false or mythical histories in schools run by authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. The fact that dissident intelligentsias usually recognized. Nor have false and mythical histories been entirely eradicated from the classrooms of post-conflict countries, Soviet and Yugoslavian successor states and such divided communities as Palestine and Cyprus, even when the governments thereof aspire to recognition as liberal democracies.
Such successes notwithstanding, there is no evidence to suggest that the quality of what students, and citizens in general, learn about and from the past has risen in line with the increasing honesty and objectivity of the history taught in schools. Various answers have been suggested, for example that students find it difficult to learn from the past because they know too little about it. It is also reasonable to suppose that, all other things being equal, we can learn more from the past if we know more about it. What is eminently unreasonable, however, is the assumption that students will understand how to make legitimate and effective use of whatever they know or think they know without being taught how to organize and generalize, to evaluate and update information about and interpretations of the past.
Learning history entails more than the accumulation of data. Indeed, students may learn a great deal about the Great War, or anything else, from lessons that add nothing to their stock of factual knowledge but inspire adventures with ideas. Somewhat more persuasive is the argument that even when students know a great deal about the past, they fail to structure and organize it in ways that render it usable. The situation is complicated by the fact that the historical consciousness of a community is not entirely formed in history classrooms.
The impact of folk memory, of state and commercially controlled news media and of the entertainment industry is impossible to quantify but likely to shape collective perceptions and actions in trivial or significant ways and to productive or counterproductive effect. This is problematic because the representations and interpretations of the past transmitted in the popular cultures of liberal democracies can be as invalid and pernicious as those conveyed in the schools and universities of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.
At their most potent and malignant, selective, partial and mythical histories transmitted outside the classroom have nursed religious, ethnic and national hatreds, scratched the scabs of victimhood and breathed new life into old grievances. Students are also exposed to a lifetime of mythology and fiction, whereas contact with school history is limited to a few years, during most of which students view the world through a haze of hormones.
Worse still, school history is often taught as though students arrive with no preconceptions about the past and remain insulated from representations and interpretations thereof once academic studies are complete. In consequence, they are rarely taught why non-academic stories about and interpretations of the past should be regarded with greater scepticism than those offered in school.
To the surprise and dismay of trainees, entire classes have expressed sympathy and support for the Nazi persecution of Jews. Unintended learning was at the opposite pole to that intended and anticipated. It must be stressed that the reactions described above were atypical and dealt with appropriately by school and training staff. Nevertheless, they stand as extreme examples of how prior conceptions held by students can turn intended learning outcomes on their head.
The set of descriptive, explanatory and evaluative generalizations that students are able and choose to assert about the past at a given point in time cf. Explicit ideas and tacit assumptions used to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate uses of what is thought to be known and understood about the past cf. First, the falsity of Nazi slanders and anti-Semitic propaganda was taught, but slanders were learned as though they were true: i.
Second, students ignored non-Jewish Holocaust victims Roma, Sinti, Slavs, communists and the mentally handicapped and tended to shrug off the implications of Nazi racial theories for themselves and their co-religionists: i. Third, superficial correspondences between what students already felt and thought they knew about Israelis and Zionists and hence about all Jews was used to corroborate the truth of Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda: i.
Finally, information, both true and false, about Holocaust history was used to reinforce negative interpretations of Zionist and Israeli behaviour in the present and to justify extreme responses to such behaviour. More disturbing still is the suspicion that the horrors of the Holocaust. In sum, the historical consciousness of these students was false. It is not unusual for adolescents to profess, and even espouse, views and beliefs that are absurd, bizarre and unpleasant. It may also be expected that, on occasions, exponents of such views and beliefs will attain a critical mass in a history classroom, particularly when a trainee or novice teacher is in charge.
Although almost invariably horrified and outraged by Holocaust history, the ways in which the generality of students edit and organize historical information tends to simplify the past and sterilize the present. In part, these reactions follow from the potency of the material involved. The more that Holocaust history. More generally, however, student alienation from the history they are taught follows from their failure to connect past and present, and from their organization of historical data into discrete topics that lack connection with each other let alone with the lived here-and-now.
The Holocaust offers extreme examples because it is extreme history. The impact of prior conceptions on classroom learning is rarely as dramatic or disturbing as illustrated and, as a rule, passes unobserved. It usually skews and distorts rather than displaces the learning intended and anticipated by teachers, and thereby compounds benign ideas and beliefs with ones that are variously potent and malignant, anodyne and innocuous.
Even rebellions and revolutions are attributed to the agency of famous leaders, not of their anonymous followers. They are prior conceptions about the present which students project upon the past in order to make sense of it. They construe the past as akin to a series of alternative presents, differing from the real present in terms of deficits. Few 12 yearold students, including some who happily concede the present to be the product of a past that could have been different than it was, are willing to admit that the present they know and love could, in any significant respect, have been other than it is.
This logical intransitivity derives from two deeply buried but strongly held prior conceptions, or assumptions, about reality and possibility. With respect to both past and present realities, most students accept the mutability of events. They also understand that many things change for the better or worse, most often for the better. For example, students readily accept that people in the past fought for and won more money, rights and freedoms because they have themselves struggled for these things with parents, teachers and. Changes in systems and structures, values and meanings are, however, more difficult to grasp and, as a rule, are assumed to be immutable constants for the simple reason that students rarely think about them at all.
Students can readily conceive of storylines in which pestilence, famine and death are real events but only within the fabric of material and social realities little different from those in the everyday present. It is as though they can imagine team games in which dramatic, strange and bizarre events occur on field whilst deeming spherical balls, goals and the offside rule to be everlasting givens.
A similar prior conception pertains to tacit and occasionally explicit distinctions between imaginary, logical and causal possibilities. When asked in one-to-one interviews whether the present would be the same, better or worse had Magna Carta not been written or signed in , many 12 yearold students happily explain why the present would be worse.
For those who do, limitations are twofold. First, sub-mode distinctions tend to be tacit: students are rarely conscious of slipping from one into another. Second, assumptions about what is and is not causally possible are usually anchored to aspects of the present deemed to be unchanging and which, in consequence, are taken-for-granted. For most UK students in this age phase, the unchanging present serves as bedrock for the real and touchstone for the causally possible.
It follows that even when they construe the present as connected with and formed by the past, it is the reality and necessity of the present which guarantees that of the past not the other way around. In the course of a single conversation, students can oscillate. Unless specifically cued so to do, few students use their knowledge of the past when considering possible futures and, when they do, arguments are frequently unhistorical.
In sum, when contemplating the future the historical consciousness of 12 year-old students appears to be impoverished. Of course, learning outcomes may be more positive for students of 14, 16 or 18 years of age. Worse still, students also assume that whatever future comes to pass does so of its own accord without reference to anything that they, their friends and families, might do or not do.
Knowledge of the past has the potential to correct misconceptions about the constants and continuities in human existence but, on the basis of data obtained thus far, rarely does so for year olds. False and unjustifiable beliefs about the past derive, in the main, from traditional and popular culture and, to a lesser extent, from sins of omission and commission by teachers and textbook writers. The historical consciousness of many students is impoverished because they construe the past as disconnected from, and therefore of little or no relevance to, the present and future.
The distinctiveness of this essence jars with experience of a present in which these exceptional qualities are strangely occluded and it can be difficult to distinguish Greeks from non-Greeks. Closely observed British football supporters and late-night revellers seem to have much in common with their barbarian ancestors. Limitations in the empirical support for the above answers should be noted.
Some evidence continues to be analysed and has yet to be published or formally reported, and most of what is in the public domain pertains to the UK. It is to be expected that differences in degree and accent will apply to other cultures and educational systems, as indeed they do between schools and regions within the UK. It is, for instance, obvious that a critical mass of knowledge about the past is a precondition for its useful application, for students to learn anything of value from it.
It is equally obvious that this critical point cannot be independent of what we wish students to learn from the past and, as previously noted, that it will be conditional upon the ways in which historical data are structured and degree to which they are organized as well as upon their number. Smaller numbers of data tightly organized within nested structures may prove more usable than larger numbers of discrete or list-form data.
Do singular particulars, items of information that cannot be reduced to more elementary constituents, weigh as much as generalizations based on large numbers of such particulars? For example, is it reasonable to suggest that students able to offer half-a-dozen valid generalizations about developments in the powers and functions of Holy Roman emperors , necessarily know less than those who can recall ten times that number of irreducible facts about the emperors themselves?
As well as the number and level of data, their selection signifies. Some periods, areas and aspects of the past attract more attention than others; and even when writing about such obsessively scrutinized topics as the Third Reich, historians select and use no more than a fraction of available data. Curriculum designers, text-book writers and teachers must be even more ruthless when selecting and discarding information. So the question arises as to whether students might learn more from the past if they knew different things about it.
For instance, would students gain more from knowing about the trans-national past or about their own national. Questions can also be asked about how the balance between factual knowledge of the past and understanding of how to organize, evaluate and use such knowledge may be optimized. Unconditional answers cannot be given to the above questions.
Answers are conditional on the sorts of things we wish students to learn from the past and how we anticipate such learning to impact upon their attitudes and behaviour. What do we wish students to get out of it? What should students learn from the past? This question is predicated on the assumption that inclusion of history in the school curriculum is justifiable. Since the size of the school curriculum is finite and justifications for the inclusion of history must be weighed against those for other courses and subjects, the assumption is too wide-ranging to be examined in this paper.
Other unexamined assumptions follow. First, justifications for history as an academic discipline cannot, in and of themselves, justify its inclusion as either a compulsory or an elective component of the school curriculum. Knowledge of the past and understanding of the nature and logic of history may or may not improve employment prospects and enhance enjoyment of certain leisure activities, but personal outcomes could only be central to a case for compulsory history teaching were we able to guarantee that the majority of people would be wealthier or healthier or happier for having studied it as opposed to some other subject.
It is unlikely that such a case could ever be made. A final unexamined assumption is close to self-evident. It is that school history should neutralize false and socially damaging beliefs derived from past-referencing fiction and folklore about who. A theoretical evaluation of the efficacy of three broad approaches to history education will be undertaken against the above criteria. These approaches are outlined in Table 1. Historical content is a means to an end.
Its purpose is to add colour and interest to otherwise dry skills or citizenship material. Social Engineering Approaches: history is used to form identities, attitudes and beliefs useful for 2. Objectives relate to the mastery of instructional media and generic learning activities. Recall and understanding of historical content is of secondary or no importance.
Content is selected and interpreted in ways that exemplify and validate pre-specified identities, attitudes and beliefs, e. Mastery of the nature and logic of history as an academic discipline is ignored or tokenistic. So, the question which features of a concept become meaningful can only be answered by embedding them into larger relational schemes; denotation and connotation of a word fall into one. Evans and Green illustrate this fact with the following examples: a The child is safe. In these examples, the word safe shows a range of different meanings, which can only be inferred from context.
They are the key that opens up the path through the conceptual content that is attached to a particular concept, of which different features can be foregrounded in different contexts. Language and the format of thought An important issue that needs to be taken up in the discussion of the relationship between language and conceptual processing is the actual format of thoughts. If it should turn out that thoughts are dependent on a linguistic format, then language would be insolubly interconnected with processes of thinking, and thought would not be possible without language, so that lan- 16 Language and thinking guage might in fact be the actual cause for our thinking abilities.
If, on the other hand, thought is possible without language, linguistic and conceptual knowledge can be assumed to be separable on a cognitive level, and this has consequences for the setup of the empirical study presented here. We find a range of different theories about the format of thinking and the interrelation between language and conceptual content, which I summarize in the following. Thinking for speaking and linguistic relativity The view that language and thought are insolubly interconnected has a long tradition.
Going back to von Humboldt ca. Following from this is that language contains a theory of how speakers mentally represent the world, so that each natural language can be seen as a system for the conceptualisation of reality. Because certain conceptual structures are linguistically conventionalised in a given language, certain ways of mental representation are conventionalised as well. Cultural conventions are thus mirrored in linguistic structures and patterns, and their repeated use reinforces the conventions in return.
This view equates thought with language and has met strong criticism, mainly for two reasons: On the one hand, there is evidence of thinking without language cf. Language and the format of thought 17 Linguistic determinism can today be said to be largely discredited, on the grounds that it is seems unlikely that linguistic categories embody the only kind of influence on our thought processes; we all share the experience that we can create both new words and new concepts.
Still, linguistic relativism has been criticised harshly e. One of the main flaws addressed is its methodological circularity — Slobin ; ; for instance only uses linguistic data to infer results about non-linguistic thinking. What he can show is only that grammar and thought correlate which indeed does not come as a surprise when verbal data are used as the source of information , but fails to prove that language really has an impact on cognition.
Pinker parodies this reasoning in the following circular argumentation: [They] speak differently so they must think differently. How do we know that they think differently? Just listen to the way they speak! Pinker 50 Nevertheless, in studies that have taken regard to this methodological issue and used non-linguistic data, it could be shown that different languages embody different conceptual classifications of the world, for instance in that semantic contrasts expressed by grammar lead to differences in perspective and foregrounding of certain aspects of concepts Lucy ; see also overview in Pavlenko , while here too, it has to be concluded that linguistic structure is not the only factor that influences thought.
It has a strong developmental focus and tries to explain how children develop their cognitive abilities. In that, it stresses the social aspect of thinking and perception, and describes the role that language as a semiotic tool plays in the internalisation of concepts and thus the conceptual and at the same time social development of humans.
Because of its origin in social and cultural structures, these mental structures mirror the socioculture in which the individual is raised.
Table of contents
Special emphasis is laid upon the Zone of Proximal Development: This concept refers to the internalisation of culture which equals with the establishment of consciousness and learning processes by means of semiotic mediation, and assumes that the process of internalisation optimally takes place when cognitively more mature individuals interact with immature ones e.
This relationship provides situations in which the expert leads the novice to insights that he or she would not have been able to reach alone. Language plays a central role in this mediation process: It is the most elaborated semiotic system that humans use, and it is a vital tool in social interaction. Vygotsky does not assume that language is necessary in order to think in general e. In this context, Vygotsky uses the concept of inner speech which he defines as a kind of condensed and abbreviated speech the speaker does not utter but produces for himself in the interaction with the world.
Inner Language and the format of thought 19 speech and external speech are assumed to be two different types of language because they have different functions: External language is believed to be an externalisation of thoughts, while inner speech is a translation of words into thoughts. So, Vygotsky assumes that thought and speech unite into verbal thought Vygotsky ch. Sociocultural theory does not so much answer questions of how structures of thought and cognitive processes can be modelled, which I will focus on in more detail further on. Still, it can be combined with approaches from cognitive science without any greater friction Frawley I regard this theory as a supplement to the cognitive models I will describe in the next section, and particularly appreciate the stress it lays on the social context in which the individual stands.
Even when the focus is not explicitly on linguistic structure, the fact that according to this theory abstract thoughts in particular are dependent on language might have an impact on the conceptualisation of the different foci in teaching situations and shall be kept in mind here. So, verbatim word order of a specific language is not encoded, but sense relationships. According to this theory, thoughts are represented in this abstract propositional code, and have to be translated into the language actually spoken by the thinking subject.
This theory stresses the innateness of general cognitive principles, assumes that human thinking is based on the linking of conceptual entities and is not dependent on any natural language system in particular. It assumes that there are different cognitive codes for verbal and non-verbal information and gives equal weight to both kinds of processing.
Paivio assumes that both subsystems process information simultaneously but have different functions: Verbal coding takes place when a person is confronted with verbal information, e. If the input is visual, then the representation is coded in a visual-spatial representation.
Contrary to the verbal coding system, the visual-spacial system is not sequential but can process different dimensions of information, such as size or colour, at the same time. Both subsystems can be activated independently, but depending on the semantic content of the input, the other system can be activated in a crosstalk-like process. So, for example, when a person reads a description of a house, the linguistic subsystem is activated, but simultaneously a mental image of a house is formed by the visualspacial subsystem.
By this, dual coding of information can take place. Evidence for visual-spacial coding stems furthermore from research on mental models Bucciarelli and Johnson-Laird ; Craik and Lockhart ; Garnham and Oakhill ; Gentner and Stevens ; JohnsonLaird ; Oakhill and Garnham which proves that humans build mental representations in an analogue, visual-spatial, mode.
These representations structurally resemble the structure of the perceived phenomenon. Mental model theory can explain the fact that humans are able to predict features and effects of complex entities: Because we experience phenomena as systems, we can mentally simulate and modify them e. Inferences and analogies play an important role here. Representations of this kind are not assumed to consist of discrete elements, as for example the language of thought hy- Conclusions and summary 21 pothesis by Fodor would assume, but form a structural and functional entity that is holistic in nature.
Recent models of enactive theories of thought activity Barsalou , ; Barsalou et al. Enactive models move away from the theory that knowledge is stored in discrete symbolic entities and stress the constructive and procedural character of thinking. Here it is assumed that conceptual processing is based on modality-specific systems of auditory, tactile, olfactory and visual-spacial processing, so not only is a dual coding assumed, but a multitude of sensory formats.
Information is not transferred into amodal symbols, but modality-specific states are stored in memory in their modal form for empirical evidence see Barsalou et al. Although this theory is not concerned with linguistic representations whatsoever but models conceptual formats from a cognitive perspective only, the evidence supports the view that there is conceptual content that is not connected with language. Conclusions and summary As this overview indicates, the relationship between language and thought has been modelled in various ways and with different purposes.
As Prototype Theory suggests, the modular-linguistic approach with its distinction between objectively describable semantic knowledge and subjective encyclopaedic knowledge cannot account for a range of experimental results. It seems to make more sense to explicitly integrate the constructive character of any kind of knowledge into a model of linguistic knowledge. A range of experimental results supports the assumption that there is no general distinction between linguistic meaning and encyclopaedic meaning.
It is thus not necessary to use specific criteria for describing semantic knowledge, as is indeed assumed in newer linguistic theories that integrate concepts from cognitive psychology into linguistic modelling, such as Construction Grammar or Cognitive Linguistics Goldberg ; Evans and Green ; Geeraerts These branches do not describe linguistic knowledge as being in need of a distinct language-specific formalism. Instead, they stress that conceptual structure and processes of categorisation are sufficient to describe linguistic meaning. Furthermore, research from cognitive psychology suggests different formats for thought, but none of the dominant theories assumes natural lan- 22 Language and thinking guage to play a nesessary role in the coding of thought.
Empirical evidence makes it likely that there are a range of modes of mental representations, among them visual, auditory, and linguistic ones, the latter being connected with the linguistic language systems of which the speaker possesses knowledge Barsalou et al. Although the actual format of thinking seems not to be bound to language, language can be assumed to play an important role in building up abstract knowledge categories, in the ontological development into a mature social being, and although people using different languages are in principle able to think any thought, the association of thoughts with specific lexical and grammatical structures might lead to differences in conceptualisation and perspective.
So, semantic concepts in the mental lexicon have their origin in individual and social experiences. The result is a closely intertwined relationship between cognitive and linguistic concepts. Conceptual structure does not necessarily form a part of linguistic structure; language, on the other hand, serves as a highly sophisticated semiotic tool for the encoding of meaning, thus for thinking.
An immediate consequence from this is highly interesting for the investigation of how linguistic structure influences conceptual content: When we use lexical items and syntactic constructions in order to express a thought, we automatically feature the conceptual structure that the lexicon and grammar of that particular language encodes; by this, certain aspects are put in the background, while others are pushed into the focus of attention. On this basis a distinctive definition of linguistic and conceptual knowledge on pure functional grounds seems useful.
I will therefore define linguistic knowledge as knowledge underlying the semiotic system of language. This is knowledge that enables humans to formulate thoughts in language and to interact with others verbally. It refers to those elements of knowledge that contain knowledge about speech sounds, lexemes and the possible ways of connecting them to phrases and sentences, but even about stylistic and rhetorical rules, about different discourse forms and metalinguistics knowledge.
Contrasting to this, the definition of conceptual knowledge I will use here is the following: Conceptual knowledge refers to any kind of knowledge structure that is necessary in order to construct meaning, and which is not concerned with the semiotic system of language. Chapter 3 Problem solving 1. Mental processes As follows from the discussion in the previous chapter, I will regard language as a tool for thinking, but not as the format we think in.
What, then, is thinking? How can we grasp what happens on a mental level when we plan and focus our attention on different mental concepts? When we try to describe processes of thinking in everyday language, we can choose from an overwhelming list of vocabulary: We consider, remember, learn, plan, compare, know, recognise, imagine, calculate, translate, analyse, evaluate, solve problems — a list that can easily be continued cf.
Fortescue But which mental processes are actually described by these verbs? What is, cognitively speaking, the difference between them? Is it possible to define them distinctively at all? Some further thought reveals that not every expression seems suitable for a cognitive distinction between processes of thought. This example suggests two notions: Firstly, that there are different levels of description that can help define what we actually mean when we speak of mental processes; secondly, when we analyse what verbs of mental processes actually depict, we evoke a theoretical framework about what cognition is and how it works.
All recent theories of cognition, including theories of language acquisition Grotjahn , regard human behaviour as complex, that means as the result of a range of simpler processes see e. Palmer and Kimchi and Massaro and Cowan ; for overviews in the area of language acquisition, see Grotjahn and Robinson Mental events are described functionally as events in which information is processed.
Information, according to Massaro and Cowan , is the mental 24 Problem solving representation that a person constructs, either by individual interpretation of external data, or by activating existent cognitive structures from memory. Information as this internal mental representation is to be understood within a constructivist framework, which means that it is a result of a subjective and individual interpretation process; it cannot directly be linked to any objective reality, and can differ from person to person. Thus information can be understood as a specific state of the cognitive apparatus.
Within this view, every process can be regarded as a three-step module that consists of the following components Palmer and Kimchi 40 : 1. Each of these three processes provides information that is necessary for the next one. This, however, does not imply that mental processing can only be modelled serially; parallel processing is also possible. Nevertheless, within each basic module, the order is logically obligatory. Starting from here any processing event can in principle be described as the sum of sub-processes which makes it possible to describe it on different levels of abstraction.
On the level of a physical description with the highest degree of detail, cognitive processes are described as neurological activities. Many IP [information processing, L. Palmer and Kimchi 49 These theories use more complex and more functional descriptions and employ terminology that coincides with everyday language use. Cognitive processes here are defined independently of their physiological basis. Because of the functional description, there is often no reason for cognitive psychologists to draw clear lines between them; therefore, terminology can overlap.
From this follows that a dichotomic view of process descriptions on the material basis on the one side and functional descriptions on the other does not seem useful; rather, the information processing paradigm that I will use here suggests that both positions should be considered to be the end points on a continuum in which complexity and abstractness increase cumulatively. This view is illustrated in Figure 1. The processes indicated above the axis illustrate exemplary taxonomies, with an increasing degree of complexity from the left to the right.
The processes indicated here range from biochemical descriptions on an extreme micro level of detail to the left to a more functional description that does not take the material basis of cognitive processes into account at all to the right. Note that the processes to the left can be regarded as cumulative elements of the processes to their right.
Basic cognitive processes as functional entities Perceive Learning Judging Problem Solving Functional process clusters that characterise specific performance Figure 1. Cognitive processes on a continuum of descriptive levels As Figure 1 shows, functional and neurological standpoints can be linked smoothly if we take the theoretical view that every cognitive activity can ultimatively be described in terms of neurological microprocesses. Both are compatible with each other.
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Thinking can be defined as situation-specific activation and construction of different semantic relationships between pieces of information in memory. According to this, the solving of meaning-focused tasks can be described as a sequence of cognitive processes, which lead to the establishment of meaningful relations between knowledge structures. In order to develop the analytical tools for the present study, I now need to decide at which level of abstractness mental processes can be analysed Task solving as problem solving 27 with enough illustrative and explanatory power.
In order to do this, I will turn back to the actual processes to be investigated. Task solving as problem solving On the basis of the theoretical grounds established in the above paragraphs, it is now possible to develop a clear understanding of how the mental activity can be captured. Because I want to investigate how learners mentally deal with content-focused activities while using a foreign language, I will use the concept of task to capture all activities that a learner can go through in these situations.
This concept is embedded into the approach of problem solving, a well-established branch of applied cognitive psychology. Problem solving research investigates how humans solve complex tasks for which they do not have any immediate solutions, and this provides a suitable framework for the kind of activities I will focus on here. In order to classify a situation as a problem, three components are necessary: a. From this follows that automatised activities are not subsumed under problem solving activities, because for them, only the feature of goal directedness would suffice.
On this basis, the process of problem solving can be subdivided into two macro processes, namely a process in which the problem is identified, and a search process. Before the solving activity can be started, a mental representation of the problem has to be created. This means that the starting point needs to be perceived by the individual as being unsatisfactory, and a mental representation of goal state has to be constructed. Processes of problem solving show central features that make them compatible with the information processing approach I have presented in the above: Problem solving is goal-directed, the problem is divided into subordinate goals, and operations are used that transform the actual problem state in a step-by-step manner on the way to the desired final goal state.
So, in the process of being solved, a problem takes different shapes. The total of these states is called problem space. It can be characterised by the sum of all possible states and operations that can be applied in order to reach the goal state. Thus the process of problem solving can be regarded as a search in the problem space by which subordinate problems are identi- 28 Problem solving fied, and it can be described as a sequence of processes that are carried out in order to solve these subordinate problems.
In problem solving theory, there is consensus about which embedded problem solving activities can be identified. Pretz et al. Recognize or identify the problem. Define and represent the problem mentally. Develop a solution strategy. Organize his or her knowledge about the problem. Allocate mental and physical resources for solving the problem. Monitor his or her progress towards the goal.
Evaluate the solution for accuracy. In spite of the numbering in Pretz et al. Rather, they comprise the basic glossary for the description of any kind of mental activity that can occur during the solving of a problem. Nevertheless, problems of very different shape are possible for a discussion of different problem types see Funke Crucial features in the characterisation of a problem are the amount and degree of explicitness of information provided by the context, but even characteristics of the subject who constructs his or her individual representation of the problem and makes use of individual knowledge.
These two complexes, problem features and subject features, can be subdivided ad libitum see model in Funke They interact with each other and determine in turn at which point the solving process is started, which subordinate processes occur in which order and when the solving process is ended.
The appropriate level of description Because of its flexible macro-framework, problem solving can serve as a suitable mesotheoretical approach for the question I want to investigate here. On this basis I will now define the grain size with which I will try to observe the cognitive processes that can reveal any possible interaction between meaning-focused task solving and L2 use. On the other hand, it should be made sure that linguistic and content-focused processes are not described too broadly, so that a distinction between the two can be maintained.
This suggests that a cognitive process description such as planning, for instance, seems too coarse for my research question, although it is implicated by the terminology of problem solving research: It is possible that an interesting interaction between language and contentfocused cognition takes place as a subordinate process just underneath this superordinate activity of planning. We need more detail that enables us to distinguish between language-specific and content-specific planning, so I will start out from the smallest common denominator above the level of neuronal activity.
As already mentioned above, the result of mental activity can take different shapes: On the one hand, knowledge structures can be reactivated without being structurally changed, which could be paraphrased as memorizing. Common verbs for these processes of reconstruction are, e. This stands in contrast to a restructuring, or to the completely new creation of knowledge structures. These processes are commonly subsumed under the term learning, and are often referred to in terms of assimilation or accretion integration of new information into already existing mental structures.
This can result in a more detailed field of knowledge and is then called tuning Bruner , Norman and Rumelhart , Piaget , Vygotsky Furthermore, incoming information can lead to the restructuring of knowledge. This happens when it cannot be integrated into existing schemata, so that it is only interpretable when these schemata are changed. Processes of this kind are often called accommodation or restructuring ibid.
This equates with learning, because it results in knowledge that was not manifest before the mental activity started. In the first case of the type memorizing, it should be stressed that even if knowledge structures are already existent, these processes refer to a highly active mental process. In the second case, concepts and schemata are used that are made available by reconstruction, and which are then reshaped, differentiated or extended.
Processes vs. Subsequent to the theoretical considerations above, I would like to suggest a differentiation of cognitive processes, which to my knowledge has not been discussed in any taxonomy for task solving processes so far. I would suggest dividing cognitive activities into more elemental cognitive processes, and different phases. As described above, the basic processes I will use here are a.
Phases, on the other hand, do not represent single mental operations, but clusters of operations that can be used for different functional descriptions of problem solving. As indicated in Chapter 3 on problem solving, a basic set of functional phases can be identified with which any kind of problem can be analysed. Basic cognitive processes describe how humans operate their knowledge base, and thus refer to general categories of human information processing. Describing problem solving phases, on the other hand, means identifying what humans do in different task situations. In a description of phases, we can identify how succession and scope of certain phases result in different degrees of success for the solutions of the task e.
So a description of when a certain kind of phase is entered, how it was triggered or interrupted by other Processes vs. However, a close analysis of processes can shed light on why a certain sequence of phases occurs the way it does. An integration of both dimension seems thus to be useful for an analysis of both task features and process data. The processing of a task with problem features can thus be pictured as in Table 1. On the vertical level in Table 1, the functional macrophases of task solving are indicated. The horizontal level, in contrast, refers to microprocesses in memory.
Because memory structures can be integrated into the task in different ways, different cognitive micro-processes can be involved. Of course it would be possible to subdivide the process dimension even further, if that was required by another research question. For example, the process of knowledge construction could be subdivided into the Piagetian categories assimilation and accommodation, or according to the different sources of information, e.
So, procedural skills in dealing with different materials could be analysed e. This differentiation into processes and phases achieves two goals. Firstly, it helps to clarify the interrelations within the different stages in the process continuum. Secondly, it provides a cognitively salient contribution to the mere strategic descriptions found in problem and task solving research. Without the process dimension, we can only analyse what purpose a certain phase has.
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With it, we can even indicate what kind of individual construction activity the subject has to employ in order to reach the goal. Focus on meaning and focus on form Hitherto, I have discussed the cognitive basics for the analysis of taskbased mental processes and tried to provide a theoretically coherent definition for task-based cognitive processes. I will now elaborate on a central aspect of language pedagogy: The task-based approach of focus on form.
My main concern will be to distinguish between focus on form and focus on meaning, which obviously tie in very closely with my research interest. These two concepts have been discussed as part of SLA classroom teaching approaches, and can contribute to a theoretical understanding of Content and Language Integrated Learning. Focus on meaning and focus on form 33 The approach of focus on form is based on the tradition of communicative language teaching approaches e. These hypotheses claim that language acquisition takes place when a learner focuses on the production of comprehensible and meaningful input for the addressee.
The interactive negotiation of meaning promotes modifications of the output and raises awareness of the meaning-carrying potential of linguistic structure, because it requires learners to talk about the data together. This talk, like talk about any other topic, involves the exchange of information and ideas and is, therefore, meaning-centred Ellis This leads to a reflection on linguistic form, possibly followed by modifications, in order to make sure that the right message reaches the addressee.
It contrasts with traditional structure-focused approaches termed focus on forms by Long and Long and Robinson 44— Here, teaching materials and classroom activities have the purpose of presenting more or less isolated linguistic features of the target language. The learner then has to face the task of putting these pieces together for use in communication. Focus on form, on the other hand, puts communicative activities in the centre typical lesson topic: How to book a hotel room, how to apply for a job, etc.
In contrast to the focus on forms approach, the syllabus is not based on the linguistic structures but on the communicative requirement. The rationale behind this approach is based on empirical evidence for the fact that 34 Problem solving learners do not move from ignorance of a form to mastery of it in one step […]. Long 44—45 The focus on communicatively meaningful interaction is assumed to lead automatically to the situation in which structural features of the language are registered as being capable of conveying meaning.
Noticing a particular linguistic structure is believed to be a necessary precondition for the acquisition of this feature. This means that the learner has to consciously focus attention on the grammatical form of the input in order to acquire grammar. So, in contrast to a focus on forms approach, language acquisition is supposed to take place in meaningful target language use. The communicative use of language for the expression of conceptual meaning is then assumed to support L2 learning processes that lead to an improved structural correctness.
Therefore, classroom activities are initiated in order to trigger communicative and meaningful communication. As initiating triggers, tasks are used which provide the occasion for verbal interaction. How to design these tasks and how to guide intended linguistic behaviour is the concern of task-based language teaching research Eckerth and Siekmann ; Ellis , a, b; Gilabert ; Kuiken and Vedder ; Robinson ; Robinson and Gilabert Note that focus on form still means that the attention is on linguistic structure.
The content of the syllabus is linguistic, and classroom interaction is motivated only with regard to language learning. This approach is contrasted with focus on meaning Doughty and Williams ; Long ; Long and Robinson , in which attention to formal elements of language is largely excluded. Content-focused task solving can be regarded as a problem solving activity: Specific information needs to be constructed which is not yet avail- Summary 35 able at the beginning of the task-solving process.
Chapter 6 can be considered a problem, because the learner needs to find out what kind of information he or she needs for an appropriate answer, plan how to obtain the information needed and then extract it from the material given, namely the climate graph. Summary In this chapter, I have accounted for the general cognitive basis of the processes that are to be investigated in the course of the empirical study, and characterized cognitive processes as complex, constructivist, and embedded into a social context.
I have presented problem solving as a suitable framework for the analysis of task-based cognitive processes. On this basis, I have addressed the task-based approach of focus on form and focus on meaning, because it assumes that a distinction between language and content focused activities is possible in task solving.
The conclusions I have drawn from the overview of research in Chapter 2 suggests that a clear focus on meaning is not really possible: If language is considered to be a tool for thinking, this would mean that language is involved in most cognitive activities in task-based settings in one way or the other. Nevertheless, in the next section I will argue that it is possible to distinguish between cognitive processes with a focus on form vs.
Chapter 4 Language-specific cognitive processes 1. Linguistic processing My research questions requires that a distinction between processes with a focus on meaning and processes with a linguistic focus can be made on theoretically solid grounds; otherwise it will not be feasible to show whether there is any impact of an L2 on cognitive processing of content information. This means that processes need to be defined that are run on language-specific knowledge structures, and differentiated from nonlinguistic processes that I have discussed in the previous section. After that it needs to be decided which language-specific processes are relevant for this study.
In order to do this I will give an overview of linguistic conceptualizations which reveals what language-specific cognitive processes have been assumed in linguistic theories. As already addressed in Chapter 2 above, linguistic theories make different assumptions about organisation and structure of the language processor see, e.
If a modular structure is assumed that is subdivided into phonology, morphosyntax, lexicon and semantics, separate processing of information in these sub-modules is assumed as well. So, distinct representations of phonological, morphosyntactic or semantic levels are assumed which are separate from nonlinguistic information. World knowledge and general problem solving skills are assumed to have an important impact on language processing, but do not control the modular components directly. Inspired by the findings from cognitive psychology, there are, nonetheless, alternative theories from the field of Cognitive Linguistics.
They do not assume that linguistic processing is based on any special cognitive mechanism, but work according to the same basic underlying principles as other forms of cognition. What this theoretical debate shows is that it is not at all clear whether we should assume a clear structural distinction between linguistic and conceptual knowledge. We do not need to take any strict decision for or against one or the other view here; but the research from the cognitive Processes of text comprehension 37 sciences shows that it is possible to establish a distinction between linguistic and conceptual knowledge on a function level.
In this light I have defined linguistic cognitive processes as mental processes that serve the construction and transfer of meaning with the help of the semiotic system of language. They form the traditional areas of applied linguistics such as psycholinguistics, discourse analysis, and text composition research, which can look back onto a long tradition of empirical research z.
Aitchison ; Dietrich ; Garman ; Pinker In the following, I will present short overviews of those basic processes of understanding and production of speech and written texts which have been modelled in these areas, and see whether they can be used here. Processes of text comprehension Firstly, I will take a closer look at processes of language comprehension, which I will define as the human ability to extract information from the semiotic system of language by constructing a conceptual representation through linguistically coded symbols. The reception of language has been investigated mainly on the basis of written texts and only marginally on evidence from spoken language but cf.
Jusczyk In my empirical study, I will only make use of written language and will thus focus on the research literature on written texts. Corresponding to the information processing view that I have adapted for the processes of cognitive processing and task solving, text comprehension can generally be understood as a complex interaction of a vast range of simpler processes: From the decoding point of view, the reader is under the control of the text and must mechanically identify every letter and word in front of the eyes. But the meaningful perspective holds that what goes on behind the eyes is the critical factor.
Reading is seen as a creative and constructive activity having four distinctive and fundamental characteristics — it is purposeful, selective, anticipatory, and based on comprehension, all matters where the reader must clearly exercise control. Smith 38 Language-specific cognitive processes Text comprehension is much more than the mere mechanical act of reading. Certainly, the intake of information starts with the act of transferring visual stimuli into linguistic symbols. But these symbols have to be linked with meaning, and have to be connected with the linguistic context to bigger entities of meaning, until a holistic understanding of the text is achieved.
Hitherto, no taxonomies have been suggested that comprise the totality of processes that can be run in order to achieve a textual understanding; but there are approaches that have achieved a classical status by now. One of them is the functional approach by Halliday and Hasan , who give a detailed description of a set of superordinate principles by means of which relations between linguistic structures are built: - reference - substitution - ellipsis - conjunction - lexical ties These features can be found in the linguistic surface structures of any coherent text, and an analysis can show which textual structures underlie the comprehension of text that exceeds the single-sentence level.
However, information that is coded in the linguistic information alone is often not sufficient for comprehension. The linguistic surface structure shows gaps that have to be closed by the reader through inference Christmann and Scheele ; Singer This view results from the following empirical evidence: Psycholinguistic studies investigating eye movement data were able to show that readers visually focus text in so called saccades, and perceive only small parts of a text at a time.
In these experiments readers were confronted with texts that contain ambiguous lexemes or sentence constructions, like in the following example sentence: The horse raced past the barn fell. It could be shown that up to the penultimate word, readers assume that they are actually dealing with an intransitive active sentence.
Experiments like this show that readers do not read a whole sentence before they start to construct knowledge, but process language successively and start their interpretation activity right away when they read the first word. Further evidence for the importance of assumptions and inference comes from reaction time experiments in recognising word pairs esp.
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Meyer and Schvaneveldt ; The results stress that the interpretation of written information is not entirely data-driven, but guided by encyclopaedic knowledge: In lexical decision tasks, measurements were taken of how fast subjects could identify the second part of a word pair as either a real or a nonexisting word. The results show that subjects were able to identify a word faster when the first word was anchored in the same semantic field e. From these studies, case grammar Fillmore , , Kintsch , and the text comprehension model by van Dijk and Kintsch Kintsch and van Dijk ; van Dijk and Kintsch were developed.
Subjects were asked to retell a story they had read before. Typically, they added information that was not present in the original text, but which can be explained as logically necessary or at least plausible elements of familiar schemata. So, world knowledge schemata underlie assumptions and inference of information that is not named in the text. This revealed on the one hand that readers store verbally transferred information independently of the original wording, and on the other hand that retrieval of information from memory is highly influenced by world knowledge.
So, empirical evidence suggests that our encyclopaedic world and context knowledge influences to a high degree the way in which we interpret linguistic input and which information we focus upon, and how we fill informational gaps in the linguistic structures. Processes of text comprehension are thus to be regarded as a highly active, constructive and individual process of interpretation. In this process, information is constructed bottom-up from the text base, while at the same 40 Language-specific cognitive processes time a top-down interpretation emerges from linguistic and encyclopaedic knowledge.
Disciplines that have their origin in linguistics but deal with the decoding of language above the sentence level have recognized the need for concepts from cognitive psychology, such as frames, scripts, mental models, inferences and presuppositions. The need to integrate extralinguistic knowledge structures has led to an approximation between text linguistic models and models of cognitive psychology de Beaugrande and Dressler , so that no specific mental processes different from general cognitive processes have been assumed for linguistic information decoding. Particularly in the modelling of text comprehension processes, the positive effects of an integration of linguistic and cognitive science models are obvious.
Processes of language production While models of text comprehension try to map how linguistic structures are decoded and a mental representation of the meaning is created, models of speech production are concerned with the question of which processes are involved when conceptual content is encoded in linguistic symbols.
Research on speech and text production comes from slightly different research branches: While speech production models have been built mainly in the field of psycholinguistics, text production has traditionally been dealt with from an applied linguistics and didactics angle. Because in my study, language production plays a role both in spoken and written form, I will present models from both areas. The best-known model for speech production, which is still authoritative today, has been developed by Levelt It pictures processes in monolingual speakers, and has been elaborated for speech production in multilingual speakers by de Bot The model comprises several stages, in which the mental lexicon takes a central role.
The following stages are regarded as the basic processes involved in speech production: 1. Conceptualisation: In this first stage, the speaker creates a pre-linguistic representation of the conceptual proposition that he or she wants to express. Here, information is picked from encyclopaedic and context knowledge. Multilingual speakers choose the language for use at this stage. Processes of language production 41 2.
Lexical items are chosen that are considered to be appropriate for transporting the conceptual content. In that, knowledge about the linguistic system interacts with context and world knowledge, e. The assumption that these three processes should be separated is underpinned by research on slips of the tongue see for a review, Aitchison , , which suggests that there are different processing stages of conceptual, syntactic and phonological representations.
The result is audible or visual speech or visual text production. On the other hand, a control device needs to be integrated into the activation, otherwise the result would be uncontrolled code switching. So, the conceptual content to be expressed is only verbalised in the selected language.
Other languages can be activated, however, although they do not reach the articulation stage. From active languages, unintended language switches can occur e. Although a serial processing is suggested, both Levelt and de Bot assume that parallel or cascading processing is possible in which the subprocess of articulation can be started before the process of conceptual planning is finalized. But as indicated above, there are models that deal in more detail with the specific features of written text composition.
I will present the most prominent ones in more detail in the next section. Models of writing tasks Writing is a specific activity in which language production is involved, and it is particularly important for school education. Consider the following sentences: a. In a hurry he wrote down the telephone number before he could forget it. She wrote a term paper on linguistic relativism. In sentence a. This is the reason why the most influential models on text composition Bereiter and Scardamalia ; Flower and Hayes and their adaptation for L2 text composition Chenoweth and Hayes ; ; Grabe ; Grabe and Kaplan ; Krings ; Portmann-Tselikas make use of the basic assumptions of problem solving research.
Text composition is thus assumed to be a problem solving activity, in which the composer is involved in generating, structuring and verbalising of conceptual knowledge structures. Therefore, in models of text composition, both processes of conceptual and linguistic construction are integrated, as I will show in the following overviews of the most important models.
The Model of Text Composition by Flower and Hayes The model of text composition by Flower and Hayes can still be seen as the most influential model in writing research today. Text composi- Models of writing tasks 43 tion is modelled here as a goal-oriented complex activity with clear reference to problem solving theory. So, the process of text composing involves the intersection of the activity into subordinate phases.
The activity of writing is, like problem solving, regarded as a set of different phases that do not occur in a fixed sequence, but can be combined freely in a module-like fashion. These phases can be repeated as many times as the composer considers necessary, and even be embedded into each other.
With this assumption, Flower and Hayes distance themselves from older writing models, which take a sequential order of phases as their basis Britton et al. When, and in which order, each of them is initiated, is controlled by a monitor. Each of these phases can in turn be broken down into subordinate processes: Definition of goals, search for a suitable sequence of operators in order to reach these goals, and analysis and evaluation of how the solution was achieved, especially if difficulties have occurred.
These goals can be set in two different ways: On the one hand by generating macro-goals that incorporate subordinate goals of which the writer assumes that they lead to the ultimate goal state ; on the other hand, by the fact that in the run of the writing activity, new macro-goals can be generated, and old goals be abolished. Therefore, planning and conceptualisation are not only initial activities that subsequently are followed by a phase of writing down thoughts, as in a printer that prints out a text after having received all the data; rather, processes of planning occur throughout the whole process of text composition and monitor the writing activity.
The model of text composition by Flower and Hayes Still, Flowers and Hayes emphasize that the activities in the course of the composition shift from the left hand side of the model to the right hand side. So, in the beginning phase of a writing task, typically more generating and goal setting activities occur, while towards the end phase activities of revising become more principal. Besides the processes that form the actual writing activity, the model contains a monitor that controls when each phase is started and ended. Here, strategic knowledge of the writer is stored.
Besides that, two more factors control which information is processed, and which goals are being set: 1. It serves as a source for all sorts of relevant information about the writing topic, as well as procedural knowledge. Time limits, topic, addressee, and self-motivation of the writer influence which parts of knowledge are activated and how the writing process itself is shaped, e. Besides, the text written so far plays a role, because it restricts the possibilities of continuing: Everything that is to be written has to be connected to what is already there; the greater the amount of text that has already been produced, the more restricted are the possibilities how to proceed.