Fwd: Re: [xmca] Zopeds at the cultural historical level

From: Andy Blunden (ablunden@mira.net)
Date: Mon Dec 11 2006 - 13:21:02 PST

>From: "Mike Cole" <lchcmike@gmail.com>
>To: "Andy Blunden" <ablunden@mira.net>
>Subject: Re: [xmca] Zopeds at the cultural historical level
>Cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>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 <<mailto:ablunden@mira.net>ablunden@mira.net> 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 ...
>>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

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