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Re: [xmca] Re: microgenesis?

Hi all,

Elena Kravtsova discusses lytic and critical periods of development in the
article I have attached here. I haven't read it for a while so can't
promise its relevance to the discussion here, but thought it might be of
interest to some. The citation is: Kravtsova, E. E. (2006). The concept of
age-specific new psychological formations in contemporary developmental
psychology. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 44(6), 6-18.

Our discussion group at Monash were recently discussing the issue of
Vygotsky's critical ages and the problem that this seems to lead back to a
similarity with Piagetian ages and stages, but I think Vygotsky's 'crises
at 1, 3, 7 etc' are not meant to be read as fixed chronological ages but
rather the age when a child encounters new possibilities for participating
in social activities (i.e. beginning to walk and talk, beginning
pre-school, beginning school, entering adolescence etc) and therefore will
differ from culture to culture, and individual to individual.

As for the differences between learning and development, I like to use
Mariane Hedegaard's definition:

"People learn when their activities change their social relations in a
practice and thereby give them possibilities for new activities.
Development occurs when a person's learning takes place across
institutional practices and changes the person's relation qualitatively
across all the practices in which the person participates"  (p. 12) from:
Hedegaard, M. (2012). The dynamic aspects in children's learning and
development. In M. Hedegaard, A. Edwards & M. Fleer (Eds.), *Motives in
children's development: Cultural-historical approaches* (pp. 9-27).
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

In my thesis I used this definition to argue that, at least from a
cultural-historical view of learning and development, professional learning
is not enough for teachers. Teachers can attend professional learning (PL)
sessions and learn about new theoretical principles, even to the point
where they can participate in discussions in the PL sessions about these
principles, but if this new learning does not lead to actual changes in the
way they participate in their classrooms or their other professional
practices (working with colleagues, interacting with parents, reading
professional literature etc) then professional DEVELOPMENT has not
occurred. The learning that occurred in the PL practice is just new
knowledge that changes the way they can participate in THAT practice, but
if it has not changed the way they act/participate as a professional in all
of their professional practices then there has not been development as a

Hope this discussion stays online as I think it is has much to offer!


On 14 October 2012 11:56, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> In reading the Problem of Age, BTW, I have always had historical
> development in mind. What we have with that isssue is a false argument
> between revolutionaries (who advocate a socialist revolution to transform
> society) and reformists (who advocate the gradual introduction of
> socialism), when we all know that the socialist transformation entails the
> gradual transformation of the social relations of capitalism over
> centuries, concentrating the ownership of the means of production and
> disciplining and educating the proletariat, AND, ultimately, a
> revolutionary overturn of state power. Neither can the overturn (passing
> state power from one class to the other) be achieved gradually (unless you
> call civil war a gradual process) nor the preparation of the forces of
> production for socialism be achieved all at once. From my first gloss of
> "Problem of Age," watching a video of Mike talking to people in Helsinki, I
> have read it this way.
> Andy
> Andy Blunden wrote:
>> Unfortunately I can't find the source from where I found the meaning of
>> lytical. It's not in the on-line OED.
>> The context is here: http://www.marxists.org/**
>> archive/vygotsky/works/1934/**problem-age.htm<http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1934/problem-age.htm>where I have inserted an explanation to the effect that lytical as opposed
>> to critical means fading from one to the other rather than making a sudden
>> "leap" with no stable in-between positions. So by using the two words, both
>> with Greek roots, Vygotsky is drawing attention to two interdependent types
>> of development: one fading out and in, the other cutting from one to the
>> other. So yes, it is a bit more specific than "gradual".
>> Andy
>> Greg Thompson wrote:
>>> Apologies for the intrusion, but I had a quick point of clarification,
>>> for the uninitiated, what is meant by "lytic"?
>>> (all I could come up with pertained to "lysis" or the breaking down of
>>> cells - which would seem to suggest a different sense of "development" - a
>>> breaking down so that things can be reintegrated. Is that the idea?).
>>> -greg
>>> On Sat, Oct 13, 2012 at 9:15 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net<mailto:
>>> ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>>>     I don't know where Americans being dolts comes into it, Mike. Some
>>>     of my best friends are Americans. :) But let's move on from that.
>>>     The point, as I see it, is trying to extract from what we can
>>>     reaonsably understand Vygotsky to be  saying, something which we
>>>     believe could be correct and significant. To do this I think we
>>>     have to understand the concept of "development" always in a
>>>     particular context. A truism for anyone here I think. What it
>>>     means to me is that I cannot just ask: what transformations in
>>>     psychological functioning constitutes "development"? The
>>>     necessary, relevant context is what role in what cultural and
>>>     historical community is the person to play, in the short term and
>>>     in the longer term. So the question of what constitutes
>>>     development is age-specific, culturally specific and future-oriented.
>>>     (Of course, the world changes, and what was development yesterday
>>>     may become oppressive and detestable tomorrow and vice versa, but
>>>     let's abstract from cultural and historical change for the moment.)
>>>     >From the standpoint of natural science what I have posed is an
>>>     absurdity and incompatible with basic tenets of science ...
>>>     because I have made development dependent on events and relations
>>>     in the future. In my opinion, that is just as it should be: kids
>>>     go to school "for a purpose" - although what we mean by "purpose"
>>>     in this context (the child's? the parents'? the state's? in
>>>     retrospect? under advice? sponatneous?). But again, let's just put
>>>     the problems arising from the idea of human actions being part of
>>>     object-oriented activities to the side for the moment.
>>>     So you ask: "what does the word DEVELOPMENT mean in the concept of
>>>     a zone of proximal DEVELOPMENT?"
>>>     I have to ask /which/ zone of proximal development, which crisis
>>>     or lytic period are we talking about. Now I guess we can manage to
>>>     give a general answer to the question: general questions require
>>>     general answers. What "development" means is relative to which ZPD
>>>     you are talking about. On the other hand, the presence of the ZPD
>>>     itself depends on the development being posed. Achievment of a
>>>     specific new mode of action with those around you, transforming
>>>     your relations and your identity and your actions in the social
>>>     situation depends on the expectations of those around you,
>>>     according to broader cultural expectations and possibilities.
>>>     A teacher or other "helper" interested in fostering development
>>>     (if they can be presumed to reflect general, broader cultural
>>>     expectations) has in mind what new functioning will be a necessary
>>>     step towards the child becoming an autonomous citizen of the
>>>     community.
>>>     As Vygotsky insists, this poses for the child and her "helper" two
>>>     different kinds of situation: either /lytical/ development or
>>>     /critical/ development. Lytical development is gradual and
>>>     prepares the basis for developmental leap. To argue whether the
>>>     gradual progress made in strengthening the relevant psychologhical
>>>     functions in this phase is or is not development is in my opinion
>>>     /just words/. Gradual accumulation of strength in those activities
>>>     which the child is basically able to do, but maybe not very
>>>     confidentally and well is a necessary preparation for transcending
>>>     their age-role and entering into a phase of critical development
>>>     in which they have a chance of successfully coming out the other
>>>     side. It is by completion of the critical phase of development -
>>>     the leap - which transforms the child's identity and role, that
>>>     "/the development" is realised/. All the preparation in the world
>>>     proves to be not development if it is not realised in facilitating
>>>     the critical transformation.
>>>     So, excuse me please for however imperfectly rehearsing
>>>     egg-sucking for grandma's erudition.
>>>     I personally regard it as a matter or "mere words" whether "child
>>>      X at last managing to recognise the difference between d and b
>>>     today," for example, is described as a development. In the context
>>>     of course it is; it is a step. You want to call that a
>>>     "microgenetic development"? Personally I don't have a problem with
>>>     that. David may, but paraphrasing Oscar Wilde: "Microgenesis is
>>>     not one of my words."  But if the child at last managed to repeat
>>>     the Gospel According to St Luke by rote, and you wanted to
>>>     describe this as a microgenetic development, I would want to hear
>>>     the developmental plan that made that claim coherent.
>>>     Where if anywhere does this leave us?
>>>     Andy
>>>     My apologies for using so many words to say so little.
>>>     Just trying to be clear and careful.
>>>     mike cole wrote:
>>>         Hi Andy--
>>>         Well to begin with, thanks for keeping the discussion alive. I
>>>         am away from home without books or control of my time, so I
>>>         want to ask a question that may highlight what is central to
>>>         my queries here.
>>>         If what you write is correct, what does the word DEVELOPMENT
>>>         mean in the concept of a zone of proximal DEVELOPMENT? Its all
>>>         fine and dandy to point out what dolts Americans are for not
>>>         understanding that learning leads DEVELOPMENT in classroom
>>>         instruction, that but classroom lessons are clusters of events
>>>         that take place in microgenetic time WITHIN ontogenetic lythic
>>>         periods.
>>>         Where does that leave us?
>>>         mike
>>>         PS- the url below lays out in some detail where the idea of
>>>         acquisition of reading as a cultural-historical developmental
>>>         process. Old and never published. But at least we might refine
>>>         what is indexed by the phrase
>>>         "learning to read."
>>>         http://lchc.ucsd.edu/People/**NEWTECHN.pdf<http://lchc.ucsd.edu/People/NEWTECHN.pdf>
>>>         On Thu, Oct 11, 2012 at 7:32 PM, Andy Blunden
>>>         <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
>>>         <mailto:ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:
>>>             So this thread does not die ...
>>>             You said, Mike, "So I am seeing the same solution to thinking
>>>             about the ontogeny/microgenesis relationships by analogy
>>>         with the
>>>             phylogeny/cultural-history relation."
>>>             I don't see the analogy there. Phylogeny and ethnogeny are
>>> two
>>>             (overlapping and mutually determining) processes with two
>>> very
>>>             distinct material bases, viz., genes and artefacts. But
>>>         learning
>>>             to read/write and development of abstract thinking (and other
>>>             leading activities in a developmental ZPD) is not such a
>>>         relation,
>>>             it is a relation between critical phases and lytic (gradual)
>>>             phases of development. This is quite a different
>>> relationship.
>>>             The analogy I would see for something which couold be called
>>>             microgenesis would be the /situation/: a concept develops
>>>             momentrily in a person and their actions in a situation. The
>>>             situation is not a factor in phylo- or ethnogensis, it
>>>         essentially
>>>             belongs to the very short time scale, and its material
>>>         basis is
>>>             activity. I grant that no-one might use "microgenesis" in
>>>         that way
>>>             and no-one may be doing research into that process these
>>>         days. I
>>>             don't know. But the situation is a distinct material basis
>>> for
>>>             development and one on which Vygotsky did a great deal of
>>>         work. On
>>>             the other hand, I think /all/ processes of development
>>>         have both
>>>             critical and lytical phases (c.f. Gould's punctuated
>>>         evolution).
>>>             What do you think?
>>>             Andy
>>>     ______________________________**____________
>>>     _____
>>>     xmca mailing list
>>>     xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>     http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/**listinfo/xmca<http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca>
>>> --
>>> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
>>> 883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
>>> Department of Anthropology
>>> Brigham Young University
>>> Provo, UT 84602
>>> http://byu.academia.edu/**GregoryThompson<http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson>
> --
> ------------------------------**------------------------------**
> ------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts
> ______________________________**____________
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Helen Grimmett
PhD Student, Teaching Associate
Faculty of Education
Monash University, Peninsula Campus

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