Re: [xmca] Zopeds at the cultural historical level

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Mon Dec 11 2006 - 08:46:54 PST

Yes, this seems a plausible way to go. But it is difficult to think of the
as "more developed" is so many ways (ditto adult/child was an issue I was
trying to
raise, but lets assume that parents know best if you like for purposes of
that I recoil often at the thought.

In our 1984 article on zopeds peg griffin and I pointed out, echoing Carol
writing about Bakhtin and LSV, that a zoped can be usefully be thought of as
a conversation with the future and that as such, the adult current level of
development does not provide an exhaustive teleology/end point of the
child's development.

I see no easy resolutions here (how could there be, this group cannot agree
that any
putative example of a zoped is in fact an example!), but the issues are
worth thinking,
re-thinking, re-re-thinking, etc.

On 12/11/06, Andy Blunden <> wrote:
> Mike, surely the essential thing about ontogenetic development which
> differs from historical development is that in ontogeny the subject is
> growing into an existing dominant culture and activity system, whereas in
> history (and evolution) the subject is pulling itself up by its
> bootstraps,
> except for various kinds of cultural domination, colonialism, etc. where a
> dominant subject forces the development of a dominated subject. So if we
> see ZPD as essentially existing in the relation between more and less
> capable subjects, then the only way we can see it in history is via
> domination. Some would argue that domination of one subject by another is
> in fact the norm, not the exception, in history: war, conquest,
> colonisation, enslavement, take-over, .... This is what Hegel's famed
> master-slave dialectic is about, the same dialectic which deals with the
> emergence of rational thought (theory and practice, scientific concepts,
> etc.) from non-literate life (for want of a better word). Hegel's
> dialectic of the relations between dominant and dominated subjects is
> never
> (so far as I know) conceived as that of learner-teacher ... an interesting
> thought though ...
> Andy
> At 01:19 PM 10/12/2006 -0800, you 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
> >
> >
> Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435, AIM
> identity: AndyMarxists mobile 0409 358 651
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