Re: [xmca] Zopeds and more competent peers

From: Lois Holzman (
Date: Mon Dec 11 2006 - 06:25:41 PST

Most of my own work concerns heterogeneous groups in various settings
(schools, outside of school programs, the workplace, etc.) and speaks to
this point of who/what develops in (creating) ZPDs‹Lev Vygotsky and the New
Performative Psychology: Some Implications for Business and Organizations in
The Social Construction of Organization being the most recent(2006). Also
work of Wolff-Michael Roth; Eduardo Vianna, Kim Sabo, Peter Grey, Carrie
Lobman‹ these off the top of my head...

> From: JAG <>
> Reply-To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
> Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2006 04:07:35 -0500
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Zopeds and more competent peers
> Some of this work is referenced in the writing of Doise and Mugny -
> working within a late Piagetian tradition - that had turned in later
> iterations toward collaborative learning. Doise now associates himself
> with Serge Moscovici - who deals in social representations - too
> little of his work is translated. There is also some interesting work
> by Shatz and Gelman (late 70s too) that basically replicated some of
> Vygotsky's studies of egocentric speech (ref to that in Dorothea
> McCarthy's article in Carmichael's Manual of child psychology in the
> mid-thirties. Shatz and Gelman used older kids talking to younger kids
> (and looked at how their speech changed when they recognized the need
> to reach an audience different from themselves). Vygotsky had done
> experiments where an adult was blindfolded and measures of egocentric
> speech taken.
> On 12/11/06, Shirley Franklin <> wrote:
>> You are so right, Deb.
>> It is a very positive argument for mixed ability teaching and learning.
>> My kids were taught is mixed ability classrooms (sadly now in the
>> decline in the UK) and benefited enormously by helping their weaker
>> mates . The act of simplification must involve more complex thinking.
>> As a special needs teacher I know how challenging simplification is!
>> I have always thought this had led these 'more competent peers' to
>> greater , deeper understandings. It is something we frequently
>> discuss in my teaching seminars.
>> Like Deb, I would love some other references to this.
>> Shirley
>> On 10 Dec 2006, at 23:55, deborah downing-wilson wrote:
>>> A question that comes to me occasionally - but never when I'm near
>>> someone
>>> to ask-
>>> It seems to me that the "more capable" member of the ZPD, by nature
>>> of the
>>> interaction also performs at a level above what they are capable of
>>> outside
>>> the ZPD - and yet I've not found mention of this feature of the ZPD
>>> in my
>>> readings. Please advise!
>>> deb
>>> On 12/10/06, Mike Cole <> wrote:
>>>> A while back Paul inquired into the issue of zone's of proximal
>>>> development
>>>> at the cultural
>>>> historical level of analysis. I pointed to Yrjo's work in Learning by
>>>> Expanding, but Paul has
>>>> in mind far wider swatches of time.
>>>> In Yrjo's case, in some sense, a generalization of the method of dual
>>>> stimulation implemented
>>>> as cultural practices by a self-conscious group is the mechanism for
>>>> "changing oneself by
>>>> changing one's history" (where self may refer to Huck Finn or the
>>>> Finnish
>>>> 7
>>>> brothers or a group
>>>> of workers in some Finnish industry). I like the work a lot, but I
>>>> agree
>>>> with Paul that it does not
>>>> answer to the question of Zopeds at the cultural historical level
>>>> adequately.
>>>> The problem, for me, is that I am unsure that it is appropriate to
>>>> seek
>>>> any
>>>> such mechanism of
>>>> cultural historical change. A zoped, in my ( ipso facto flawed,
>>>> mistaken,
>>>> and misguided understanding!)
>>>> is constituted in joint of activity of people with different
>>>> resources
>>>> (knowledge, experience, courage.......)
>>>> for accomplishing a culturally valued task. In Vygotsky's rendering,
>>>> provided in the context of
>>>> psychological testing and pedagogical practice, the persona
>>>> involved are a
>>>> more and less capable
>>>> person, sometimes referred to as more and less capable peers.
>>>> The difficulty at the cultural-historical level that bothers me is
>>>> that it
>>>> is even more difficult than in the
>>>> ontogenetic case to figure out who the more capable person/social
>>>> group
>>>> might be. For sure versions
>>>> of this idea that invoke some version of the "vanguard of the
>>>> proletariat"
>>>> and associate notions of
>>>> false consciousness I experienced during the 20th century, did not
>>>> impress
>>>> me as a useful
>>>> means for the development of humanity.
>>>> I should add that I also believe that uncritical evaluations of
>>>> who the
>>>> more
>>>> capable person is in the
>>>> ontogentic literature ought to be viewed sceptically, or at least
>>>> bracketed.
>>>> In some cases (luria
>>>> seeking to help Zasetsky recover his blown-away intellectual
>>>> functions so
>>>> that he can read and write
>>>> and live in his home town) the amazing zopeds Luria created seem
>>>> unproblematic ethically in terms
>>>> of almost anyone's view. In a lot of other cases I am less sure.
>>>> Yrjo's
>>>> critique of unproblematic
>>>> "vertical developmentalism" in his "breaking away" article
>>>> highlights the
>>>> dark side of educator's
>>>> good intentions even when they are, in some sense good, never mind
>>>> the
>>>> cases
>>>> in which psychopaths
>>>> are in charge of the classroom or the clinic.
>>>> But the question at the cultural-historical level remains in several
>>>> versions.
>>>> I am assuming that at the phylogenetic level no one wishes to
>>>> claim that
>>>> there is any question of
>>>> the kind of teleology involved in issues surrounding the notion of
>>>> zoped
>>>> within a CHAT perspective,
>>>> but this view is clearly in a tiny minority when viewed within the
>>>> contemporary ideological landscape.
>>>> mike
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> xmca mailing list
>>> --
>>> Deborah Downing-Wilson
>>> _______________________________________________
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