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Re: [xmca] Re: microgenesis?

No, I don't believe Vygotsky is speaking of microgenesis, Mike.
My PS was responding to David saying:

   "It’s that moment when learning-and-teaching leads development, or
   opens the next stage of development (as Koffka says, a pfennigsworth
   of learning and teaching yields a mark of development) that I always
   thought was called microgenesis."

Mike Cole wrote:
Is he speaking of micro genesis, Andy?

On Oct 3, 2012, at 5:59 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

Mike, reading Chapter 6 of "Thinking and Speech" about written speech,
it seems to me that Vygotsky takes the development of written speech as
archetypical and a pre-requiresite for the development of true concepts
in modern society. He actually says that in taking up instruction in
grammar (which is always associated with the learning of written speech)
he is deferring the formation of scientific concepts to "susbsequent

As is well-known, he points to at least three characteristics of written
speech which are significant: that it requires conscious awareness of
the semantic, syntactic and phonetic properties of both inner and oral
speech; it requires an abstraction from the speech-situation and in
particular the interlocutor; finally, it requires a motivation which is
entirely absent for the child when they begin to learn written speech.

Each qualitative leap, each /development/ in the psychological growth of
a child is marked by a crisis and sharp change in the will, the
development of new motivations and therewith new relationships, new
"situations". The motivation is no longer provided by the situation, an
answer is required when there is no question. Thus the achievement of
written speech requires conscious control of the will in abstraction
from the situation, and reflecting upon and controlling inner speech.
The formulation of actions, thinking, in the absence of the actual,
sensuous presence of the stimulus, is one of the most central
characteristic of conceptual thought. This is a development that is
required even in non-literate communities. But in modern societies, the
psychic functions required for conceptual, i.e., culturally inherited
means of action, are acquired through formal schooling and as I see it
the means of doing so is the mastery of written speech.

Back on the 29 September, you asked:

   "Since qualitative change in the organization of sensory-motor
   behavior appear off the table when discussing HIGHER psych
   functions, might you turn your scalpels to the acquisition of the
   ability to read a phonetic alphabet fluently? How am I going wrong
   in believing that acquisition of reading is a developmental process
   in which learning also plays an essential role that shifts in the
   course off acquisition?"

It is really nothing to with sensory-motor behavior, even though
sensory-motor behavior is the only means by which written speech can be
manifested. But if a child has normal vision and normal control of their
hands, and these functions are sufficiently developed to recognise the
letters of the alphabet, then teaching the child to read and write them
is a good move. But it is not development itself. What is development is
acquisition of those functions Vygotsky talks about: abstraction from
the semantic, syntactic and phonetic properties of oral speech;
abstraction from interlocutor and the speech situation; and the
development of motivations to write. None of the actions implied in this
psychological development are possible unless the child has /some/ means
of written speech. Learning the ABCs simply creates the possibility for
the leap of mastering one's own thinking by the culturally-specific
means of written speech with a phonetic alphabet.

That's how I read it.

PS. David. "Microgenesis" is not really part of my vocabulary, but I
think it is not warranted to apply the term to the critical phases of
ontogenesis. These are after all ontogenesis. I have always taken
"microgenesis" to refer to the processes whereby a given psychological
condition, or process, or action, is manifested out of its conditions,
ie., something which happens every second. E.g. if I have a problem and
then I hit on the solution; or if I meet someone, and in a second or two
recognize them and adopt an orientation to them; or I want to speak in a
meeting, stand up and then speak. That is the context in which I say
concepts /are/ themselves processes of development (and not just the
product of development).

mike cole wrote:
Thanks David.

So there is microgenetic DEVELOPMENT of reading, or is LSV talking about
the ontogenetic change that comes from mediation of activity through


On Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 7:56 PM, kellogg <kellogg59@hanmail.net> wrote:

  First of all, here's Vygotsky attacking Meumann and Piaget for the
view that learning to read and write is really just learning, and not a
fundamental restructuring of the child's understanding. It's from Thinking
and Speech, Chapter Six, Part Three. But unfortunately neither English
translation is really adequate. So here is the Russian:

Обучение как бы пожинает плоды детского созревания, но само по себе
обучение остается безразличным для развития. У ребенка память, внимание и
мышление развились до такого уровня, что он может обучаться грамоте и
арифметике; но если мы его обучим грамоте и арифметике, то его память,
внимание и мышление изменятся или нет? Старая психология отвечала на этот
вопрос так: изменятся в той мере, в какой мы будем их упражнять, т.е. они
изменятся в результате упражнения, но ничего не изменится в ходе их
развития. Ничего нового не возникнет в умственном развитии ребенка от того,
что мы его обучим грамоте. Это будет тот же самый ребенок, но грамотный.
Эта точка зрения, целиком определяющая всю старую педагогическую
психологию, в том числе и известную работу Меймана, доведена до логического
предела в теории Пиаже. Его точка зрения такова, что мышление ребенка с
необходимостью проходит через известные фазы и стадии, независимо от того,
обучается этот ребенок или нет. Если он обучается, то это есть чисто
внешний факт, который еще не находится в единстве с его собственными
процессами мышления. Поэтому педагогика должна считаться с этими
автономными особенностями детского мышления как с низшим порогом,
определяющим возможности обучения. Когда же у ребенка разовьются другие
возможности мышления, тогда станет возможным и другое обучение. Для Пиаже
показателем уровня детского мышления является не то, что ребенок знает, не
то, что он способен усвоить, а то, как он мыслит в той области, где он
никакого знания не имеет. Здесь самым резким образом противопоставляются
обучение и развитие, знание и мышление. Исходя из этог Пиаже задает ребенку
такие вопросы, в отношении которых он застрахован от того, о,что ребенок
может иметь какие-нибудь знания о спрашиваемом предмете. А если мы
спрашиваем ребенка о таких вещах, о которых у него могут быть знания, то
здесь мы получаем не результаты мышления, а результаты знания. Поэтому
спонтанные понятия, возникающие в процессе развития ребенка,
рассматриваются как показательные для его мышления, а научные понятия,
возникающие из обучения, не обладают этой показательностью. Поэтому же, раз
обучение и развитие резко противопоставляются друг другу, мы приходим с
необходимостью к основному положению Пиаже, согласно которому научные
понятия скорее вытесняют спонтанные и занимают их место, чем возникают из
них, преобразуя их.

"Teaching-and-learning reaps the benefits of the children's maturation,
but is in itself of no interest to development. If we teach literacy and
numeracy when the child's memory, attention and thinking have evolved to
such a level that it can be taught, will his memory, attention and thinking
change or no? The old psychology responded to this question thus: it will
change to the extent that we exercise them, i.e. it will change as a result
of exercise, but nothing will change in the course of their development.
There is nothing new here in the mental development of the child from what
we taught him to read. It will be the same child, but competent. This
view is entirely fixed by the whole of the old educational psychology,
including the well-known work of Meumann, and brought to its logical limit
in Piaget's theory. His point of view is that the child's thinking must
needs to pass through certain phases and stages, regardless of whether the
child undergoes teaching-and-learning or not. If he undergoes it, this is
a purely external fact, which is not yet in any communion with his own
thinking processes. Pedagogy should therefore be considered alongside the
autonomous features of children's thinking, as a lower threshold
determining teaching-and-learning. When a child develops, other ways of
thinking and other forms of teaching-and-learning will then be possible. For
Piaget, the indicator of the child's thinking is not what the child knows,
not what he is able to learn, but the way he thinks in an area where he has
no knowledge. Here lies the very sharpest contrast between
teaching-and-learning and development, between knowledge and thinking. It
is on this basis that Piaget sets the child questions with respect to which
he may be assured that the child can have no knowledge whatever. For if
we ask the child about things about which he may have knowledge, here we do
not get the results of thinking, but the results of knowledge. Therefore,
spontaneous notions arising in the development of the child shall be
considered as indicative of his thinking, and scientific concepts that
arise from learning-and-teaching, do not have this potential. For the
same reason, once learning-and-teaching and development are sharply
counterposed to each other, we necessarily arrive at the main point of
Piaget, according to which scientific concepts rather displace spontaneous
and take their place rather than derive from them, transforming them."

Later on, Vygotsky dwells at some length on his disagreements with Koffka.
It will be seen that the passage which Vygotsky is lingering over is
precisely the one that Mike sent around:

Есть, наконец, третья группа теорий, которая особенно влиятельна в
европейской детской психологии. Эти теории пытаются подняться над
крайностями обеих точек зрения, которые изложены выше. Они пытаются
проплыть между Сциллой и Харибдой. При этом случается то, что обычно
происходит с теориями, занимающими среднее место между двумя крайними
точками зрения. Они становятся не над обеими теориями, а между ними,
преодолевая одну крайность ровно в такой мере, в какой они попадают в
другую. Одну неправильную теорию они преодолевают, частично уступая другой,
а другую . уступками первой. В сущности говоря, это . двойственные теории:
занимая позицию между двумя противоположными точками зрения, они на самом
деле приводят к некоторому объединению этих точек зрения.

Такова точка зрения Коффки, который заявляет с самого начала, что развитие
всегда имеет двойственный характер: во-первых, надо различать развитие как
созревание и, во-вторых, надо различать развитие как обучение. Но это и
значит признать в сущности две прежние крайние точки зрения, одну вслед за
другой, или объединить их. Первая точка зрения говорит, что процессы
развития и обучения независимы друг от друга. Ее Коффка повторяет,
утверждая, что развитие и есть созревание, не зависящее в своих внутренних
законах от обучения. Вторая точка зрения говорит, что обучение есть
развитие. Эту точку зрения Коффка повторяет буквально.

"There is, finally, a third group of theories, which is particularly
influential in European child psychology. These theories attempt to rise
above the extremes of both points of view, as set out above. They are
trying to sail between Scylla and Charybdis. In this case, what happens is
the usual case with theories that occupy the middle ground between two
extremes. They do not stand above the two theories but between them
overcoming one extreme exactly to the extent to which they veer towards the
other. They overcome one wrong theory by partially surrendering to another.
Generally speaking, it is a dualistic theory: occupying a position between
two opposing points of view, they actually result from some combination of
the two points of view."

"This is the view Koffka, who states at the outset that the development is
always dualistic: First, we must distinguish development as maturation and
second we must distinguish development as learning-and-teaching. But this
means to recognize in essence the two previous extreme positions one after
the other, or combine them. The first point of view is that the processes
of development and learning-and-teaching are independent of each other.
Here Koffka repeats the argument that development and maturation are not
dependent in their internal laws upon learning-and-teaching. The second
point of view is that learning is development. This view too Koffka repeats
word for word."

Vygotsky goes on to discuss three positive elements in Koffka's work:
First, Koffka recognizes that there are two different things and they exist
in a state of mutual dependence. Second, Koffka must introduce a new
conception of learning-and-teaching, namely the appearance of new
structures and the completion of old ones. Thirdly, Koffka raises, although
he cannot solve, the whole question of whether learning-and-teaching leads
development or the other way around. It's that moment when
learning-and-teaching leads development, or opens the next stage of
development (as Koffka says, a pfennigsworth of learning and teaching
yields a mark of development) that I always thought was called

In developing that second point, on the new STRUCTURAL conception of
learning-and-teaching that Vygotsky distinguishes between
learning-and-teaching that offers only the skill that it offers and a
transformative skill--and the example he gives of the former is learning to
type. What about the latter, though? It seems to me he has already given us
an example of the latter at the very outset of this discussion when he was
raking Meumann and Piaget over the coals. It is when a child learns that he
or she can draw speech.

David Kellogg

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

--------- 원본 메일 ---------

*보낸사람*: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
*받는사람* : "eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>, kellogg
*날짜*: 2012년 10월 03일 수요일, 08시 43분 37초 +0900
*제목*: microgenesis?

Hi David- This message was begun several days ago but got hung up in my
messy schedule and a delay while I got to Koffka.

I would like very much to continue the microgeneis discussion started by
Greg (or was it you?) because it seems to me to get us to the heart of the
learning/development issue. We made a lot of progress a few years ago when
you and Andy and I tried to write down "our" theory of development, with
LSV as the paternal text.

While I have been off doing my form of inquiry, you have been doing
yours  including all of the intense work on Tool and Znak, and immersing
yourself in the texts.

I have  have a copy of Koffka at home, so I read a bunch of places where
the learning/development issue is brought up.

Rather than jump straight into conversation, I would like to provide
other xmca'ites as wish, to read the texts being discussed.

To that end, I have attached a few pages from Koffka that seem
particularly to the point. As I understand it, this approach, which
attributes cultural influences on development only for forms of action that
are species typical/universal and closely related to (acquiring a first
language, acquiring the ability to walk and run and jump and duck, and so

So the answer to questions about development being involved in learning
to ride a bike or acquing the ability to read a phonetic alphabet. The
matter is forclosed. Reading is a process of learning, ipso facto, end of

You indicate in your note that LSV also had some disagreements with
Koffka, but I was not clear on what they were. If you could elaborate in
context I would find it helpful.

So, moving slowly, and doggedly sticking to the topic of microgenesis of
functions including acquiring the ability to walk, to ride a bike, and to
learn to read, and lets include acquire a language, since that is clearly a
central topic, I attach the relevant pages from Koffka so others can see
what we are nattering on about, and at least figure out what is at stake.

If you would indicate other parts of Koffka to read, David, if you think
them relevant, I can make the pdf and distribute.

more to come.

PS-- ALL-- Note David's new email. I am probably not the only one who
missed the transition to it.



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*Andy Blunden*
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts

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*Andy Blunden*
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts

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