RE: [xmca] Play to Art: Experience to Insight

From: Monica Hansen <monica.hansen who-is-at>
Date: Sat Jul 19 2008 - 11:48:12 PDT

I just finished reading your article, which for me is so helpful and timely.
I am a classroom teacher who has just gone back to graduate school to work
on my understanding of what you are writing about here. I was first
introduced to Vygotsky in my teacher training in the late 1990's in Colorado
at the University of Colorado, Boulder. I was an English teacher in high
school. I have been working at a Reggio inspired college lab school for
preschool children in North Idaho and there my interest in his theories came
up again as they are a major influence in the Reggio schools (Italy). I
started researching this "symbolic mediation" after my experiences in the
classroom with children, my background in theory and linguistics (because of
being an English teacher), and my work with teachers in North Idaho who have
limited experiences for gaining these understandings, but are developing
their own theories as a result of their observations and documentation of
children to support the emergent curriculum and multiple symbolic literacies
of the Reggio approach. A version of their curriculum, which is modeled by
Foreman and Fyfe (1998) as a cycle of "negotiated learning", co-construction
by teachers and students, involves three elements: design, documentation,
and discourse. It is a similar framework to your model at the classroom
culture level. In trying to help the teachers understand why play is an
effective activity for learning and development and form their conceptions
about the elements of play that do effect the learning (what this type of
play looks like and how it works), your article will be very useful. Not
only does this give us food for thought, but it can help us better defend
their approach to curriculum from the increasing pressure of accrediting
agencies and state and local politics which emphasize more systemic,
behaviorally oriented standards.

Not to mention it is helpful for my research, too. Thanks.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Ana Marjanovic-Shane
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 1:15 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Play to Art: Experience to Insight

Dear Eric,

Thank you for good words about our article!

Below are some answers to the questions you asked - see my comments
within your text:

Dr. Ana Marjanovic-Shane

On Jul 16, 2008, at 10:43 AM, wrote:

> Ana & Ljubica:
> Such a well written and presented article, great quotes and examples
> to
> illustrate your thinking. It is always a joy to read something that I
> viewed over time in discussions that appeared on this forum!
> Hopefully
> others will join in the discussion of this great article.
> Briefly, here are a couple of thoughts
> 1)Having never read Bahktin ( iknow, i know. . .he is so often
> referenced
> that it is simply horrible on my part that I have not) I had never
> come
> across the concept of a chronotope. Now that I have been introduced
> to the
> concept I really like it! And I should add i am now motivated to read
> Bahktin. The use of it to describe a play frame is remarkably
> similar to
> Mikhail Basov's view on the importance of play in a child's
> development.
> This can be referenced in: Basov, M.Ia. (1929) 'Structural
> analysis in
> psychology from the standpoint of behavior'. Journal of Genetic
> Psychology, 36, 267-90. Basov speaks of the child moving from loosely
> organized temporal events to incorporating 'schemes' into goal-
> directedness
> and planning. Is this how chronotope is being used?

ANA: I did not read Basov, but Bakhtin does not use the term
"chronotope" to describe any particular developmental process. It
refers to a unity of time and space and specific values
(valorizations). It is a useful notion to complement shat has been
know as a "frame" or more specifically a "play frame". While play
frame refers more to the boundary and boundary construction -- we
thought that we also needed to introduce a sense what the particular
importance of the internal relationships within a specific frame --
hence, "chronotope"

> 2)Cognitive development in a child occurs as they experience a
> methaphor in
> a playframe and as a child becomes familiar with the use of this
> metaphor
> they see examples in their daily activities and when they enter into
> another playframe they have a 'ready-made' TOPIC that can easily be
> played
> with?

ANA: One of the goals we have in our research is to look at
development in a holistic manner: not separating cognitive aspects
from emotional and volitional. Thus, we think that creating metaphors
(and possibly meanings in general) is based on coordination of several
relationships -- where relationships have not only cognitive aspects
but also affective, ideological and volitional ones.
Metaphors, as we see them, furthermore require a specific coordination
between play frames and and reality frames. Therefore, creating a play
frame is not enough for development of metaphor -- a new way of seeing
and organizing reality happens when the play chronotope can be used as
a comment "for real" - i.e. to reorganize the actual, real, serious,
ways of seeing, feeling and relating to life events. This change is
not merely cognitive, it is a full lived through experience
(perezhivanye) -- involving emotions, hopes, decisions, relations to
others etc...
> 3) One last thought pertains to the examples of how a TOPIC is
> presented
> in the playframe. "Pretend there is a monster coming" ; "Let's
> pretend you
> are my father and I am your daughter." In both instances it is the
> word
> that comes first and not the behavior. Perhaps is this why Vygotsky
> viewed
> the word as the unit of analysis for the study of human development?

ANA: In our examples "Pretend" was a word to signal a change of frame
(chronotope). But the same effect can be achieved through different
means: a wink, an exaggerated imitation, involvement of "impossible"
elements in a story, etc... What is important is that the participants
all agree that what they are doing is within a play-frame. If such
agreement does not exist, that can lead to different consequences
(deliberate lies, misunderstandings, disorientation etc) -- which were
out of the scope of this paper.

We also did not discuss Vygotsky's notion of the word as a unit of
analysis is this paper. However, our unit of analysis differs from
Vygotsky's. We were looking for a unit of analysis at the level of the
construction of meaning -- and not at a syntactic level to which
"word" actually belongs as an analytic unit. This can be seen even on
a purely cognitive plane: if one can place an equation sign between a
word and its definition (given in a sentence or two), then it is clear
that meaning cannot be reduced to purely linguistic level, but is
something of a different quality.

I also don't think that Vygotsky viewed the word as a unit of analysis
for the study of human development, but for a much more specific
aspect of development -- conceptual development.

In our study we tried to look at the development of views and
understandings of the world through different units and their
combinations, however, we attempted to give the development a more
dynamic character and to see it as part of the ongoing social
processes and activities.

> Again, such a great article and thanks for sharing it with XMCA!
> What do others think?
> eric

ANA: I hope I answered your questions, at least in part.


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Received on Sat Jul 19 11:49 PDT 2008

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