Re: [xmca] Semiotic-Material Ordering

From: Michalis Kontopodis <michalis.kontopodis who-is-at>
Date: Sat Apr 19 2008 - 05:23:58 PDT

Response To Eric, Mike and Leif,

Eric, I like very much your description, because you refer to what may
be called 'context-related or local practice' which is a very
important dimension and in part less emphasized in my article. I did
not much investigated the 'meaning' and possibly the different
meanings an object (i.e. portfolio, diagram, etc.) may be associated
with in the context of different practices, and this would for sure
enforce the cultural-historical perspective in my article.

Seen in this perspective I also found very helpful the article of Mike
Cole: Can Cultural Psychology Help Us Think About Diversity? Mind,
Culture, and Activity, Volume 5, Issue 4, 1998, Pages 291 – 304.

which refers very concretely to different local policies in dealing
with diversity in San Diego, taking under consideration the history of
California and to the role Cultural Psychology may have in regard to

Such a local-historical dimension is missing from my analysis and
would support my argumentation--Mike I would like to thank you here
for your piece of advice, I did not know this article before.

Leif, I would like also to thank you because I haven't paid attention
to the sentence from the Concrete Human Psychology of Vygotsky which
you mentioned and which is very relevant for my research. I try to
conceive the practice of writing diaries (as Anna Frank, and others
did, see also 'Writers of Freedom' in Long Beach) as a semiotic-
material i.e. mediated practice of relating to other subjectivities.

Michalis Kontopodis

research associate
humboldt university berlin
tel.: +49 (0) 30 2093 3716
fax.: +49 (0) 30 2093 3739

On Apr 17, 2008, at 8:05 PM, wrote:

> Michalis:
> Thank you for interest. When I begin to think about the
> implementation of
> the portfolio I am at first interested in understanding the context
> of its
> use. When context becomes the focus of my interest I think about
> how staff
> can point to it as an expectation and how students can point to it as
> understanding their success. Being that it is an alternative to
> earning
> high school credits there is also the context of it being viewed as
> different, sometimes of course different can be thought of as bad by
> teenagers. When implementing the portfolio these contexts need to
> be taken
> into account. The expectation being that performing the activity of
> comparison shopping is accompanied by the functions of budgeting and
> meal
> preperation. The succes aspect provides an opportunity for concept
> development as student and staff work together in a common goal (i.e.
> planning, shopping and meal preparation). Prior to the portfolio
> these
> activities were included in our school's curriculum but there was
> not the
> semiotic-material ordering that you speak of in your article. The
> aspect
> of this subject that really provides me with great evidence that
> Vygotsky's
> explanation of the mediational aspect of development is correct is
> that the
> staff I work with do not frame their teaching in a CHAT perspective,
> yet
> instinctively when we meet and discuss the portfolio the
> explanations for
> its success fall into Vygotsky's mediational theory. Does any of
> this make
> sense? What do you think?
> eric
> Michalis Kontopodis
> < To:
> "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
>> cc:
> Sent by: Subject:
> Re: [xmca] Semiotic-Material Ordering
> 04/16/2008 03:47 PM
> Please respond to "eXtended
> Mind, Culture, Activity"
> Dear Eric, thank you very much for your comments, I am happy that my
> work made some sense to you.
> it is clear that I am much influenced by Vygotsky's Thought and
> Language, and I see a lot of parallels to Valsiner, too.
> May I ask you how you (would) evaluate your portfolio or any similar
> tools from your perspective?
> Michalis Kontopodis
> research associate
> humboldt university berlin
> tel.: +49 (0) 30 2093 3716
> fax.: +49 (0) 30 2093 3739
> On Apr 16, 2008, at 7:29 PM, wrote:
>> Michalis:
>> Such an important paper pertaining to the work that I currently
>> practice.
>> In fact you have summarized very well a practice that we put into
>> place two
>> years ago that we have found great success implementing. Two years
>> ago
>> staff put in a great deal of time in the evenings to develop a
>> portfolio.
>> It was a list compiling all of the activities they would be required
>> to
>> complete while they are attending our program. Prior to the
>> development of
>> this portfolio the explanation of expectations was more ethereal in
>> nature
>> and consisted of meetings, small checklist and quite frankly
>> subjective
>> feelings. Since the development of this portfolio the result has
>> been
>> similar to the following quote from your paper:
>> "The diagram [insert portfolio here] presented here is abstract and
>> encompasses the student's complete school past.
>> Time is here not only spatialized but it is fabricated as a line
>> connecting
>> the past, the present and
>> the future, i.e. it is fabricated as irreversible time. A student's
>> development is 'objectified'. The
>> term "to objectify" is used here to indicate the translation of
>> something
>> vague (ongoing interaction
>> and intra-activity in everyday life) into something visible, in a
>> way which
>> is accepted as objective;
>> the term also indicates embodying a vague idea in a materiality
>> e.g. a
>> document (Middleton,
>> Brown, & Lightfoot, 2001; Middleton & Brown, 2005). Discursive
>> interaction
>> and intra-activity
>> is always also non-discursive: the graphics of development go
>> together with
>> the students' autobiographical
>> narrations and the teachers' discussions/reports mediating the
>> institutional
>> memory. (p.15)"
>> Also of note my newest avenue of interest has been to thoroughly
>> research
>> Chapter 5 (an experimental study of the development of concepts) from
>> Vygotsky's Thought and Language. Much of what you write pertaining
>> to
>> development is similar to Vygotsky's view that what evolves into
>> higher
>> psychological thought in adolescence is present in the child prior to
>> adolescence but the mediation and the flow of complexes eventually
>> evolves
>> in the adolescent thinking in concepts as a result of this
>> semiotic-material ordering. I also see parallels between your
>> thinking on
>> semiotic-material ordering and Valsiner's concept of the process-
>> structure
>> of semiotic mediation.
>> Thank you for allowing your paper to be viewed on XMCA, I for one
>> greatly
>> appreciate it.
>> eric
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Received on Sat Apr 19 05:28 PDT 2008

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