re: pcp course exercise
Sat, 28 Jan 1995 17:14:18 +0000

When he responds to a fascinating hare started by Linda Viney and chased
vigorously by Rue Cromwell (to a point at which, I must confess, I can
barely get my head round the little beast), I _think_ I understand what Jim
Mancuso's driving at.

"He IS aggressive" suggests pre-emption because one can't tell whether
temporary behaviour or an enduring state is being asserted.
"He WAS aggressive" opens the issue a little: the possibility is asserted
that temporary behaviour ended or that the enduring state is now no more:
less pre-emption, as it were.
To use "He displays/displayed anger" is clearer, since pre-emption is
avoided and this exercise in avoiding "be"- or "have"-ing words would teach
something about the dangers of pre-emption.

Likewise, English is all the poorer as a language because it doesn't have
distinct verbs for current state rather than possible/enduring state. (Is
that what you meant Jim? You quote Italian "Stare" and "Essere"; from the
examples, these sound like the Polish "Byc" and "Istniec"; thinking about
it, if I translate the latter back into English I get "To be:
situation/immanence" and "To be: existing/having" and take your point.)

But I'm not so sure about the conclusion:
>>If we "think" in constructivist frameworks, we should find ourselves
>>using language which expresses tentativeness as we frame our observations
if it's about avoiding pre-emption.

There are situations in which I positively want to embrace certainty. If we
value the "becomingness" and movement inherent in subjunctive and
conditional constructions, we surely value the arrival at a state of being
inherent in simple assertive (non-subjunctive/conditional) constructions
when the behaviour is positively evaluated. I _want_ to be able to say "He
WAS calm" rather than "He showed calm/calmness" without it being thought
that I'm being pre-emptive.

Just a passing thought to entertain you: English has its flexibilities too.
Do you know that in Polish, there are no separate roots for "to learn" as
opposed to "to teach"?
What the Polish teacher does is "uczy", teaches, while what the Polish
student does is "uczy sie": not _learns_, but, literally, _is-taughtses_
("sie" being a grammatical reflexive with no connotation of agency: i.e. it
doesn't mean "teaches him/her-self").
("You're teaching me about Kelly; I'm is-taughtsing about Kelly." Cripes.)
This makes discussion of teaching objectives versus learning objectives,
teaching strategy as opposed to learning strategy, a nightmare, and the act
of learning a somewhat passive, being-taught construction...

Kind regards,

Devi Jankowicz