Re: [xmca] Creativity & Social Transformatio

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Sun Apr 13 2008 - 11:49:24 PDT

Hi Francine--

It is only in the past year, thanks to the work of people from sweden,
japan, finland, serbia, and the US who have been inspired
by the translation of lsv on creativity and imagination and the work of
Gunilla Lindgvist that I have started to focus on play in
a new way that focuses on child-adult role differentiation and questions of
imagination. Many other XMCA members are more
competent to comment on "play theory" but I am at least an eager student.

Perhaps it would be useful to you as well as other XMCA members if you sent
a paper to post as a paper for discussion at XMCA that everyone around
the world could access in addition to accessing the discussion. I will be cc
Artin Goncu on this matter because he has been very interested in
ideas about play and development and hopefully he will find time to

I was asked by a colleague in Australia about the different translations of
LSV's Thought and Language 1982/1986/1997. I wrote about this a long time
ago and will try
to get a pdf of that article. My impession is that Alex K did not
re-translate the book (and I am not sure from which Russian edition) but
added back in the parts left
out. Minnick, I know, because Jim Wertsch and others of us at LCHC spent a
year reading and interacting with Norris about his translation, started from
a copy of the
book provided, I think, by Zinchenko.

About ISCAR. Remember, ISCAR represents the coming together of a northern
european group that viewed Vygotsky via Leontiev, for the most part, and a
european/south American group that started with LSV and downplayed the idea
of activity. There were a LOT of papers simultaneously, as always, and it is
only to
be hoped that the two groups discovered much in common and were better able
to pinpoint what they did not agree about.

When you are in San Diego, check out the ballpark. The view is ruined by the
absence of vertical steel girders that allow you to imagine someone hitting
a home run
when they are only knocking dirt out of their cleats! :-)) But the weather
is ok.


On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 8:34 AM, larry smolucha <>

> Thank You David,
> I appreciate the recognition of my work. For people who are interested in
> my work,
> I will be attending the ISCAR conference in San Diego and we can have
> coffee and talk.
> My career has been on "the road less traveled" and "that has made all the
> difference."
> Let me give you a little info about where I am coming from as a
> Vygotskian.
> And then I will give my thoughts on the older child as the experienced
> play partner.
> My background: I have never been to Russian or studied with Russian
> psychologists.
> But, I have had positive feedback from Elena Budrova (Russian play
> researcher still in Colorado?) and Tatiana Aktina (Luria's student still in
> Russia?). My knowledge of Vygotsky's theory comes from reading the text (in
> the original Russian). I have also read the Russian text of El'konin's book
> "The Psychology of Play."
> Consider, that I am a "South-Sider" and I was raised as a fan of the
> Chicago Cubs, and you
> have a glimpse into my psyche. My parents where first generation
> Polish-American factory workers. [Also, the University of Chicago is on the
> South-Side.]
> As a freshman/sophomore, I took five courses in Russian at the Chicago
> City Colleges
> (a community college system.) In 1984, while brushing up on my Russian in
> order to
> pass (with honors) the University of Chicago's graduate reading exam in
> Russian, I started
> to translate the Russian text of Thought and Language. To my surprise, I
> quickly
> discovered that the then current English translation by Hanfmann & Vakar
> (MIT Press,
> 1962) had omitted half the passages in a random fashion. So that's why we
> struggled
> so hard to make sense of the 1962 publication of Thought and Language (all
> those years.)
> In 1986, Alex Kozulin's full translation was published by MIT Press, and
> the book doubled in size and the text flows more smoothly. The younger
> generation of Vygotsky students
> does not know what the earlier generation had to struggle with (sigh).
> In 1984, I decided that I might as well, just find a Vygotsky text that I
> was really interested in
> and practice translating that. I had already pioneered research on my own
> developmental theory of creativity as the maturation of children's play
> (with my husband, Larry, a Visual Artist,
> South-Sider, Midway Studios University of Chicago) - debuted at a
> Conference on Psychology
> & Art University of Wales 1983. So I translated Vygotsky's paper on
> "Imagination and Creativity
> in Childhood" (originlly 1930 in Russian, published in Russian again in
> 1956, my translation
> published in 1991 in the Journal of Soviet Psychology.)
> I passed the Russian reading exam with honors, fulfilling my Ph.D.
> requirement. And went on to translate two more Vygotsky papers on the
> development of creativity. I reconstructed the Vygotsky theory of creativty;
> my understadning of the Vygotsky theory of play was enhanced; and my
> understanding of the scope of Vygotsky's metatheory was transformed. Much of
> this was not well-received by leading American Vygotsky experts who worked
> directly with a Russian psychologist who was the "gatekeeper" who guided
> their interpretations of Vygotsky's works.
> (I am not talking about Luria who had passed away.)
> In regard, to the role of an older child as the more experienced play
> partner:
> This takes us into a discussion of "The Semiology of Childhood" (Smolucha
> & Smolucha's presentation in 2002 at the University of Birmingham, U.K.)
> Sociodramatic play is not the same in every culture, its form and function
> vary. There is a particular type of socio-dramatic play that has a history
> in European cultures. [Being Euro-centric in origin does not mean it has to
> be
> "dissed" as a tool of European colonialism. There are plenty of cultures
> that are non-European
> that have histories of imperialism and colonialism.]
> Freud, Erikson, Piaget, Vygotsky, and El'Konin are talking about the
> European tradition of
> symbolic play (Piaget), pretend play, make-believe play, or socic-dramatic
> play. They all
> focus on object substitutions during pretend play, where one object is
> used as if it were
> another object (riding on a stick as if it were a horse.) They do not put
> the focus on re-enacting
> adult roles. This is an important distinction for Montessori, whose
> curriculum includes the
> re-enactment of adult routines (using child sized replicas of tables &
> chairs, etc.) but does
> not include pretend play where one object has to be substituted for
> another. For example,
> re-enacting dinner time one could provide plastic noodles (replica toys),
> or provide no
> replica food leaving an opening for creative collaborative
> problem-solving. The teacher
> would ask the preschoolers "what can we do?", "we have no food", "what
> could we use as
> spaghetti?" Even two-year-olds can find some yarn or ribbon, older
> children might think of
> shredding paper. Of course, the children have to be allowed to go into the
> craft area and
> bring yarn into the play area of the room. I learned the importance of not
> providing
> secondary props (like plastic noodles) from reading El'Konin's description
> of Fradkina's dissertation
> from the 1940's. My 1991 dissertation builds on this, as does the work of
> Budrova & Leonne, and the Reggio Emilia preschool.
> In my dissertaion (1991) I found that the children (at age 2) who
> could teach other
> children the technique of object substitutions in pretend play, where the
> children whose
> mother's had taught them this technique from the time they were
> 14-months-old
> (Kendall's Tau non-parametric correlation at the .01 level of
> significance.)
> Object substitutions become the key to creative imagination in fine
> art (Arnheim's, & Gombrich's, isomorphisms), in technical inventions, in
> metaphorical thinking in literature and science, and in everyday
> problem-solving (using a brick as a doorstop). They can also facilitate
> learning social roles that vary from using a stick as a horse because you
> want to ride "the pony," to using the stick as an automatic weapon to "shoot
> the bad guy."
> In 2002, I was an invited speaker at the ISCAR conference in
> Amsterdam.
> I talked about my work on Vygotsky's theory of creativity and play. To my
> alarm,
> I discovered in another symposim on children's play that the American
> "play"
> researchers, and the Dutch psychologist who was the discussant, pronounced
> that their
> work was the very first work to be done on play from the perspective of
> Vygotsky's theory.
> I had just published a review of the research literature on Vygotsky's
> theory of play in
> a book on Early Childhood Education edited by Saracho & Spodek. For too
> long there
> has been little to no dialogue between Vygotskian researchers who do not
> embrace
> Leontiev's Activity Theory and the researchers who identify with
> Vygotsky's (Leontiev's)
> Activity Theory (most members of ISCAR.) It leads to awkward situations
> like the
> one at the ISCAR conference in 2002 in Amsterdam, where Activity Theory
> proponents
> did not know there is an entire research literature on Vygotsky's theory
> of children's
> play.
> Without "Creative Tension" (to borrow Vera's phrase) there is no
> progress, too
> much agreement might bring harmony and stagnation.
> David, thanks for raising the question about play. You see I can
> discuss Vygotsky's theory
> at the "drop of a hat" or even in my sleep (and I have been waked at 5:30
> a.m. with a call from Europe asking me about my work.)
> > Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2008 05:04:08 -0700> From:>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Creativity & Social Transformation> To:
>> > Dear Francine:> > Welcome! I've been reading Y.V.
> Karpov's book The Neo-Vygotskian Approach to Child Development (2005: CUP)
> and noticing that he references you a lot. I looked up one of your papers on
> play ("The relevance of Vygotskys' theory of creative imagination for
> contemporary research on play"), so I for one was not wondering who the heck
> Francine Smolucha was, but rather how the heck she knew all these wonderful
> things about Vygotsky's work before any of the rest of us did. > > Karpov's
> main use for your work seems to be to buttress his claim that socio-dramatic
> play needs to be directly taught by adults. This is part of his activity
> theoretic approach, which divides childhood into distinct periods which are
> not separated by crises but instead characterized by a "leading activity"
> with a new independent motive. This leading activity grows out of a goal
> directed action that was subordinated to the previous activity.> > That's my
> problem. I can sort of see how the manipulation of toys might grow out of
> emotional attachment. And I can almost imagine how sociodramatic play might
> grow out of the manipulation of toys (though LSV suggests that it has more
> to do with unrealizeable desires). And the adult playmate is indeed a
> logical stepping stone to schoolwork, but schoolwork in the sense of
> age-homogenous levels overseen by a single adult is a pretty modern
> invention. > > Mike is arguing, elsewhere on this list, for a
> looooooooooooooong co-evolution of culture and phylogeny;it is not the case
> that history begins where evolution leaves off. It seems to me that for most
> of this long co-evolution, the chief means of enculturation for both
> anthropoid apes and man must have been play. But it also seems to me that
> for most of human history and prehistory the child's logical playmates would
> be older siblings and their friends rather than adults, as we see in most
> cultures where the bourgeois family has not yet taken root and even in late
> capitalist families where both parents have to work. Isn't it the older
> playmate rather than the participation of adults that makes play into a
> "natural" zone of proximal development? > > David Kellogg> Seoul National
> University of Education> > > > > ---------------------------------> You
> rock. That's why Blockbuster's offering you one month of Blockbuster Total
> Access, No Cost.> _______________________________________________> xmca
> mailing list>>
> _________________________________________________________________
> Pack up or back up–use SkyDrive to transfer files or keep extra copies.
> Learn how.
> hthttp://
> xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list
Received on Sun Apr 13 11:50 PDT 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu May 01 2008 - 17:14:13 PDT