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Re: [xmca] the Stakhanovist turn in education

Sorry about the delayed response, Anton. Your comments and the attached article are indeed helpful!

I googled your name to see where I might find the recent paper you mention, and was very pleased by what I found - not one, but several papers you've authored and co-authored, including your thesis, all which address a ton of factual questions I have had for some time. Thank you for this work.

Below are some excerpts from Anton's 2009 thesis that speak to some of the questions being discussed in this thread about the impact of Stalinism on Vygotsky-influenced researchers in the 1930's.

excerpts from:
PhD thesis, written 2009, by Anton Yasnitsky.

Anton explains, in Ch 1, pg 16:

"... the excellent work done by Krementsov in his _Stalinist
Science_ (1997) is a great help to any researcher attempting to understand the intricacies of the inner workings of Soviet science and its official, public life at that time. One should particularly keep in mind such factors as ...

[Anton provides this detailed quote from Krementsov about factors such as ... -sg:]

... " “the merging of the scientific community and the party-state control apparatus on the level of both institutions and individuals; the subordination of science-policy decision-making to the priorities of the apparatus; the centralized, pyramidal, rigid, hierarchical structure of scientific institutions; the fierce competition among various groups within both the community and the party-state agencies; the tight administrative control over institutional structures, appointments and certification of scientific personnel, research agendas, the international and domestic scholarly communications; the translation of the communities interests into “Newspeak” of party bureaucracy; the militant style of scientific criticism; and the peculiar party “etiquette” that defined the required rituals of scientific behaviour." "

Anton remarks:

"Furthermore, most importantly, these features of the Stalinist science were universal and mandatory, and [quoting Krementsov -sg] “**there was not a single scientific or scholarly discipline in the Soviet Union to which they did not apply and whose fate was not shaped by them**” (Krementsov, 1997, p. 8)."

Anton continues, commenting:

"This perspective radically changes our perception of the scientific modus vivendi of the time and helps us understand many problematic issues of the history of Vygotskian psychology, such as the interrelations between the members of the [Vygotsky -sg] Circle and the real meaning of their public mutual criticism and self-criticism, the stylistic differences between public presentation and inter-group reports or private notes, the issues of authorship of texts and ideas, the choice of experimental designs and of the experimental data interpretation, strategies for publication—and non publication,—the meaning of groupings and sub-groupings within the Vygotsky Circle, and many more such issues."

A general point Anton makes in the chapter discussing his historical method, and one of the key areas he focuses on:

From Ch 2, pg 21-22:

"Science can hardly be separated from its social and cultural context. This is particularly true of the Soviet science of the Stalin’s era. Yet, the vast majority of those rare studies on the topic present either a traditional rationalist “history of ideas” or a fairly old-fashioned biographical narrative about a protagonist, or a combination of the two. As a result, Vygotsky is commonly presented as a revolutionary “thinker”, yet virtually nothing is known about the actual empirical experimental studies he did or supervised in a wide range of research, educational and clinical contexts. Vygotskian experimental science still remains a mystery to most of us. This is a loss to the history of psychology, but even a greater loss to the psychology as a contemporary practice. The history of “Vygotsky Circle” is bound to be a variation of a social history. In this study I present a somewhat novel program of research on the history of Vygotskian psychology that requires shifting focus from a biography of ideas to the actual practices of scientists; that is, to a focus on actually doing Vygotskian science in its sociocultural context."

- Steve

On Jan 6, 2011, at 3:56 PM, Anton Yasnitsky wrote:

2) We know that the term 'pedology' and its scientific pursuit was condemned by the Soviet government in 1936. Why did the term 'pedology' go into disrepute in

the **West** as early as WWI? --

For the destiny of "paedology" in the West I would suggest a really good paper
by  see Depaepe "The heyday of
paedology in Belgium (1899–1914): A positivistic dream that did not come true" :


(just in case, see attached). I guess the point is that neither there were spokesmen of these nascent discipline there, nor anybody needed the weird term after WWI any more. In other words, paedology--as well as several other
psychoneurological disciplines in the West--calmly died out.

By the way, in a recent paper of mine I made this observation that several disciplines similarly--relatively quitely--died out in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Among these are a number of victimized and lamented social movements
as paedology and psychotechnics (typically discussed under the rubric of the "oppressed science"), or the largely forgotten psychohygiene. Indeed, all of these were either formally closed down by a decree or lost support from the patrons in power and underwent considerable budgetary cuts, whereas their agents fairly easily switched to other disciplines and practices like pedagogy, psychology, psychiatry, physiology or medicine. In fact, it was the decree of 1936 that suggested that paedologists convert into pedagogues (or, implicitly, psychologists) and continue their work. Which no doubt most of them did :). The

decline of these disciplines in the interwar period was followed by their reemergence--mainly under the banner of psychology--during and after the WWII, in the West and the Soviet Union alike. Which suggests a fairly universal rule,
independent of the specific localities, I believe.

Hope this helps...


P.S. Btw, never heard of "Stakhanovist turn in education". Sounds funny

----- Original Message ----
From: Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Sent: Thu, January 6, 2011 11:13:09 AM
Subject: [xmca] the Stakhanovist turn in education

Thanks, David. The Wikipedia has helpful articles on several of your points - zebra crossings, pedology, and the "Stakhanovite movement." I changed the thread name because some of the questions your points bring up for me on these topics may bring us beyond the aspects of zoped theory that are usually discussed on xmca. The last two questions are especially wild cards, getting a bit into political theory and history. On certain levels all these questions
are related, of course.  I think I ask 4 questions.

1) How does a zebra crossing capture the idea of the crisis for you?

2) We know that the term 'pedology' and its scientific pursuit was condemned by the Soviet government in 1936. Why did the term 'pedology' go into disrepute in
the **West** as early as WWI?

3) What specific relationship do you see between the "Stakhanovite movement" and the increasingly Stalinist policies in education in the late '20's and early
'30's?  That is, what was the "Stakhanovite turn in education?"

According to the wkp, the Stakhanovite movement dates back to 1935, and was about adulating Alexey Stakhanov and his reputed accomplishments as a miner to
encourage Soviet workers to exceed their quotas.

Just a little bit more on Stakhavonism, since you bring it up, and it offers us a view of the USSR in the mid-30's. As you know, Trotsky and others were very critical of this charade - but not all aspects of that movement. His son and close comrade Lev Sedov (1906-1938), writing under the pen name N. Markin, wrote
an article entitled "The Stakhanovist Movement," published in the New
International in Feb 1936, available online at
http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/ni/vol03/no01/ markin.htm .

Sedov said: "We believe that the Stalinist leadership is putting the
Stakhanovists in a very privileged position not only in order to encourage the rise in the productivity of labor, but for the purpose of favoring, just as deliberately, the differentiation of the working class, with the political aim of resting upon a base, much narrower no doubt, but also surer: the labor

Sedov explains " ... the transition is beginning – and it will indubitably be quickly effected wherever it has not been made as yet – to a differential piece-work rate, that is to say, each worker will receive pay in proportion to what he produces. In proportion as the new technology [modernized machinery, such as the pneumatic drill in coal mining -sg] has created the pre- condition for the Stakhanovist movement, the piece-work wage, under the conditions of the monetary reform, has effectively brought this movement into being. And in the
contradictory Soviet economic life with its elements of socialism and
capitalism, the Stakhanovist movement has not only become economically necessary but to a certain extent also progressive – in that it raises the productivity of labor. It is of course not progressive in the sense that it [supposedly -sg] “prepares the conditions for the transition from socialism [?] to communism
[!!]” (Stalin, Pravda, Nov. 22, 1935).

Sedov continues "Piece-work wages were defined by Marx “as the form of wages most suited to the capitalist mode of production.” (Capital) And only a bureaucrat who has lost the last shred of Marxian honesty can present this forced retreat from the allegedly already realized “socialism” back to money and
piece-work wages (and consequently, to accentuating inequality to the
over-exertion of labor power and to the lengthening of the working day) as
“preparing the transition to communism”."

So that is a little on how Trotsky and his close colleagues were viewing
Stakhanovism at the time, to offer some political history.

An aspect that especially draws my attention with regard to Stakhavonism, and how it might relate to the question of Stalinist changes to education policy, was the motion toward creating a highly privileged sector of the working class. Sedov, as quoted above, suggested this was politically aimed at creating a labor aristocracy, a social base for those in power, which Trotsky analyzed as a petty-bourgeois bureaucratic caste, led by Stalin. This raises interesting questions about how education policy may have been specifically bent to serve
this and other bureaucratic perspectives.

4) Which brings me back to my questions. More generally, David, how do you see
Vygotsky's theory of zoped as a response to Stalinism?

- Steve

On Jan 6, 2011, at 12:45 AM, David Kellogg wrote:

I have no excuse for my use of "zebra crossing" except that "zebra" is the term the Brits use for a pedestrian crossing. It refers to the stripes on the road,
and it captures, at least in my mind, the idea of the crisis.

But I intend to use Mike and Peg's "Zoped" from now on, not simply for the
inside joke that he gives ("zo"), but for an inside joke of my own.

"Ped" stands for "pedogogy" in Mike's term. But for me it will always stand for "pedology", the martyred once-and-future discipline for which Vygotsky and
Sakharov sacrificed their lives.

I think this is the real secret of the "Zoped". It was a brilliant tactical maneuver, which allowed Vygotsky to pursue his pedological ideas under extremely unfavorable, actually REACTIONARY "pedagogical" conditions (the Stakhnovite turn in education, which was forced by Stalin on Vygotsky and his collaborators in
the early 1930s).

By appealing to the future in the present, he was able to continue using the same idea of building on the child's own logical creations under the guise that
it was not complexive pedology but pre-conceptual pedagogy.

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education.

--- On Thu, 1/6/11, Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com> wrote:

From: Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] zpd zbr zedpd and zoped
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Thursday, January 6, 2011, 12:25 AM

So I have a few questions prompted from recent threads on zpd and Mike's video
on zoped.

First, what does ZBR mean?

Wondering this got me to try to do some catching up of some xmca posts in recent weeks, figuring I'd missed something obvious. It may be more of a case of subtle humor. ZBR seems connected to a Nov 16 post by David Kel where he said: "PS: I think we should refer to the Zoped as a Zebra Raising, or maybe just a Zebra Crossing. But what we really need is a new name for the functional method of dual stimulation. The Fumedvastym? Fume Distillation?" Some of this had come up in some joking between David Kel and Mike a few days earlier about Mike's use of the term "zoped" instead of "zpd" ... but it gets lost for me
beyond that.

So ZBR seems to mean ... ZeBra Raising or ZeBra cRossing ... and has become a joking substitute for zpd and zoped. But I seem to be missing something. It sort of spoils jokes when you have to explain them, but you know how e-mail text
can be ...

On the use of the term 'zoped' (as opposed to 'zpd,') which David had asked Mike about, there is some subtle humor in that term, too. Mike explains his preference for the term zoped in the post copied below, where he adds a reason I hadn't heard - or more likely, recalled. "Zo" is a term used in Liberia for a village shaman, who among other things, is highly respected as a teacher. Thinking about this, and knowing Mike's penchant for playing, "ped" derives from Greek for "child," so the pronunciation of "ZPD" as "zo-ped" has some word play going on - "teacher + child" (a combination of meanings to which one might further ask, who is teaching who?). But this playful pronunciation of an acronym seems to have taken on some seriousness, in the form of the connection between 1) Vygotsky's proposition that learning leads development - which is at the heart of the concept of the zone of proximal development, and 2) Vygotsky's
theoretical approach to
play, both of which are emphasized in Mind In Society. And this resonates not just theoretically, but also pedagogically. As Mike says, "when I organize obrazovanie [education -sg], I like to mix serious stuff with play ..." And so, among some Vygotskian scholars and teachers, these plays on words from other languages have entered English as a technical term, a two-syllable **word** - zoped - with its subtle reference to playfulness (if you know the playful etymology), in place of the flat, three-syllable **acronym** - zpd, or worse, ZPD. Besides, as Mike points out, 'zoped' IS easier to say ... :-)) As has been pointed out on xmca before, the concept deserves a word. Just when the concept and a word for it winds up in Merriam's, of course, remains to be seen.
It is still both a concept and a word in the making.

What provoked some of that joking about zebras and ZBR, ZPD and zoped seems to
have been Mike's video "Mike Cole On Zoped"  at
which Andy posted Nov 10.

This is a talk with slides that Mike recently gave in a live feed to the Nov 2010 Vygotsky Memorial conference in Moscow, which I just listened to.

Some highlights:

Mike suggests that Vygotsky's concept of zoped is different from the
"scaffolding" concept, a term first initiated, to Mike's knowledge, by Robert Wood in 1966. Mike asks how is the scaffolding metaphor different from the usual 'N, N+1' approach to understanding teaching situations. Mike suggests that this and some of the other varieties of Western learning theory that limit the zpd concept to this "construction" perspective do not sufficiently take into
account the **dynamics of change**.

Mike then distinguishes Vygotsky's concept of **learning leads development**
1) Piaget's concept that **development must precede learning**, and
2) the views of many American learning theorists that take the position
**development equals the amount of learning**.

Another question Mike addresses is can zpd's or zopeds appear outside the classroom, for example, in children's play - or does this process **only** apply to school, to instruction. Connected to this question of where can the zoped occur is the sometimes perplexing meaning of the Russian word 'obuchenie', which Vygotsky uses in his explanation of zoped. Mike explains that 'obuchenie' can mean two different but related concepts - 'instruction' or 'learning' - and that this term has been translated from R to E both ways - and in reverse, the English terms 'instruction' and 'learning' have both been translated from E to R as 'obuchenie' - creating some confusion about Vygotsky's original meaning over the years in both languages as Vygotsky has been translated back and forth.

Whatever meanings Vygotsky intended in his brief but influential writings on the zone of proximal development, Mike, of course, has strong suspicions that learning can indeed lead development in many kinds of situations outside of
formal instruction in school.

Which leads me to my next question - which I am taking the long route to get

One of Mike's concluding points is the challenge of how to generalize on Vygotsky's principle of dual stimulation, which Mike argues underlies Vygotsky's concept of the zone of proximal development. Mike points out that he, Yrjo, and other researchers have been focused on this aspect of zoped for some time.

Mike's slide on this reads:

"Generalizing Dual Stimulation.
* The ur characteristic of higher psychologically (culturally mediated) human
action is that it operates indirectly, through the environment.
* DS method is the ur model of human action incorporates the environment as tools for action. But it must be generalized into group as well as individual

Mike urges the non-Russians at the conference to ask their fellow Russian
attendees what 'ur' means.

So - to our fellow Russian speakers - what does 'ur' mean in Mike's slide?

And, Mike, if you have a moment, could you spell out your statements in that slide a little - such as what the referents "it" refer to in the first and last sentences, what you mean by "operates indirectly, through the environment,"

Finally, Mike, could you post up your whole ppt slide set? You mentioned in your talk there was a larger ppt set than could be presented in the 20 minute talk. Really good talk, by the way - thank you much for putting it on Vimeo.

- Steve

On Nov 12, 2010, at 5:23 PM, mike cole wrote:

Subject:     zpd zbr zedpd and zoped

I am answering David's question about "why zoped." I did not include it in
my talk because I am uncertain of the audience's national
backgrounds and was assuming "mixed but mostly Russian speakers". The talk
was supposed to be about 20 minutes long and I was
uncertain of the time. And I was also mindful of the fact that on Tuesday following its showing at the Vygotsky readings, I will be discussing the issues raised, and whatever people feel like talk about via skype, sooooooo.

As many know, when i organize obrazovanie, I like to mix serious stuff with
play. Also, I have a long term interest in the the enculturation
practices and processes of peoples for whom literacy has not been a central
part of enculturation until, perhaps, recent times. And, I enjoy
participating in the forms of activity that emerge when zopeds are created
as a part of our research and educational practices.

With that context (add or subtract to taste) the notion of a zoped came from
two sources. First of all, it IS easier to say! :-)
Secondly, it involves forms of pedagogy -- arranging for the young to
acquire valued skills, knowledge, belief, behaviors, etc --
Third, when it works, it seems like "something happened," a qualitative
field that sometimes can be like flow, sometimes can be
triggered by timely juxtapositions, montage-like. And it seems to lead to a more inclusive, more integrated way of relating to the world at least in that setting. Whatever this "something" is, it has a magical quality to

In Liberia when and where I pretended to work once upon a time the most
respected, revered, and feared members of the community were
shamen, a concept referred to in Liberia at the time (across language groups, so far as I could tell) as a Zo, what popular culture refers to as "witch doctors." They were THE teachers. But they worked through magic.

That about sums up my idea of the zone of proximal development. It requires
sage pedagogy and a touch of magic. When those are combined,
they, of course, constitute a zo-ped.

I personally recommend spending time in such third spaces. :-))
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<Depaepe, Marc (1998). The heyday of paedology in Belgium (1899-1914) -- a positivistic dream that did not come true.pdf>__________________________________________
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