[xmca] Creativity & Social Transformation

From: larry smolucha <lsmolucha who-is-at hotmail.com>
Date: Thu Apr 03 2008 - 23:42:39 PDT

Greetings to XMCA members from Francine Smolucha:
I have just joined the XMCA listserve.
Michael Cole and Vera John-Steiner know me, and my work
as a Vygotsky translator and researcher. You can always
do a Goggle search and get an overview of my academic work
and my political activism (in the true Vygotskian spirit.)
This introductory e-mail is going to be a little long, but I think it will be worth the reading.
When discussing the Stetsenko & Arievitch paper on social transformation
and the Moran & John-Steiner paper on creativity, please consider that the
work of the LCHD represents only one Western approach to Vygotskian
In 1984, I pioneered the translation and reconstruction of Vygotsky's theory
of creativity. The Moran & John-Steiner paper cites my work (although the
1970 citation is incorrect - that is not one of my publications - I was in High School
in 1970.) From the beginning (1984) my interpretation of Vygotsky's theory did
not fit the mainstream view being put forth by the leading American authorities
on Vygotsky - the mainstream view that emphasized problem-solving and
completely overlooked creativity, imagination, emotional regulation, social
cognition and moral reasoning. Never-the-less, my husband Larry and I
were able to publish some 40 papers in Europe and in the USA on Vygotsky's
theory (my translations and our research.)
Together, Larry and I formulated "Synergistic Psychology" which is a dynamic
synthesis of Vygotskian, Freudian, Piagetian, and Behaviorist theories.
We even wrote (and taught) from our own life-span human development textbook:
A Synergistic Approach to Development Across the Life-Span.
[The Vygotsky-Luria theory of neurology had already provided the model for contemporary
neuroscience investigations of consciously directed activity (by means of prefrontal
functioning.) It was only a matter of time before someone realized the new brain
imaging techniques like the functional MRI could be used to investigate the
"executive" function of the prefrontal areas of the frontal lobe.]
In regard to Vygotskian theory and the "newly evolving perspective on science as culture" (Stetsenko & Arievitch), perhaps news to some people, but old news to
those of us who were schooled in Thomas Kuhn's 1962 book "The Structure of
Scientific Revolutions."
And, a big yes to Vygotskian theory as a theory of social transformation.
Particularly, in regard to the social construction of words and discourse
that shape political processes, and interpersonal and intrapersonal dynamics.
At this point, you might be wondering "Who the heck is Francine Smolucha?"
Ph.D. in Educational Psychology University of Chicago (1991) - mentored by
Dr. Jacob Getzels. I just retired after spending thirty years as a professor
at a community college in Illinois. But the intersting thing about that particular community
college is that it serves the largest Palestinian population in the world outside the
Middle East.
So here's a real world problem (of great urgency) for the Vygotskian Theory of
Creative Social Transformation: How do we formulate the words and the discourse
to create a culture of peace (that will take us beyond the polarizing and vindictive
platitudes of radical religious sects and political extremists)?
We are actually making progress doing just that. You might Google Spirit Magazine
for the Diverse Woman whose President/Founder is a Palestinian Muslim American
woman from the "south side" of Chicago. I serve on the Advisory Board for Spirit Magazine
(which has over one million paid subscribers internationally.)
In closing, I would like to tell Vera John-Steiner that I am sorry she has been ill and
I wish her a speedy recovery. It has been a long time since we met for coffee in Amsterdam
in 2002. World (and local events) necessitated that I apply my Vygotskian perspective
to "collaborative social transformation."
Regards to all from, Francine Smolucha
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Received on Thu Apr 3 23:44 PDT 2008

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