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Re: [xmca] Re: microgenesis?

I see no harm in a bit of free association here, Greg. Here is Vygotsky's own words on the topic. (I have bolded what Vygotsky associates with lytcal and underlined what he is contrasting with lytical):

   By purely empirical studies, psychology established that age-level
   changes may, in the words of Blonsky, occur _abruptly and
   critically_, or may occur *gradually and lytically*. Blonsky terms
   as /periods and stages /the times of the child’s life that are
   separated from one another by more (periods) or less (stages)
   _abrupt crises_; phases are times of the child’s life separated from
   each other *lytically*.

   Actually, at certain age levels, development is marked by *slow,
   evolutionary, or lytic flow*. These are age levels of predominantly
   *smooth and frequently unremarkable internal change* in the child’s
   personality, change that is accomplished by *insignificant
   “molecular” attainments*. Here, over a *more or less long time* that
   usually takes several years, no _fundamental, abrupt shifts and
   alterations_ occur that _reconstruct_ _the child’s whole
   personality_. More or less remarkable changes in the child’s
   personality occur here only as a result of a *long-term cryptic
   “molecular” process*. They appear outside and are accessible to
   direct observation *only as a conclusion of long-term processes of
   latent development*.

   During r*elatively firm or stable* ages, development occurs mainly
   through *microscopic change*s in the child’s personality *that
   accumulate* to a _certain limit_ and _then appear spasmodically in
   the form of some kind of neoformation_ of the age level.

"Well burrowed, Old Mole!"


Greg Thompson wrote:
and one last pitch for my (blind!) interpretation of "lytic":

Lytic as loosening or breaking down before re-incorporation feels to me a lot like Hegel's "aufheben" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aufheben) or "sublation" of the two elements in the dialectic. Lysing as taking apart the pieces and assembling them into something new that couldn't otherwise have been. That is Hegelian genesis, no? The source of creativity? At bottom, all "development" (regardless of timescale) involves the problem of change and creativity. How does something new come into being that wasn't already there?

And as I said, my interpretation of "lytic" is severely blind and Andy's reading of the text suggests to me that I am connecting a few too many dots. But it is fun business to try to make (new?) sense of these things.

I'm currently looking into aktualgenese in the Leipsig tradition, but I don't know the extent of Hegel's influence there. I assume that Vygotsky would have been influenced by folks there, but the names I'm coming across there don't seem to come up in Vygotsky's writings much - Wilhelm Wundt, Friederich Sander, Kleine-Hurst, and Erich Wohlfart. Certainly Vygotsky would have known of Wundt, but are there meaningful links here from aktualgenese to Vygotsky's notion of genesis and development?

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to return to micro-genesis - right now, too busy trying to rock my little micro-genetic to sleep. Hard to type while swaying back and forth...


On Sun, Oct 14, 2012 at 11:26 AM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com <mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com>> wrote:

    Thanks very much Andy and all who jumped in to indicate their
    I will replace the file online at lchc website with Andy's
    improved version.

    The re-admiration of "lytic" that Greg introduced is really thought
    provoking to me. It also puts me in mind of the meaning of culture
    goes with biological research which urges us to think about the
    between culture and "medium." All useful.

    With respect to the polysemy of "development" and "learning." In
    *The Construction Zone, *Denis Newman, Peg Griffen, and I struggled
    enough so that we often gave up and used "change" which of course
    elides the difficulties but does not solve them.

    With respect to this learning/development discussion I think we
    are still
    struggling to get ourselves clear about whether the notion of "genetic
    domain" or "time scales" matters. In this discussion, at least, I have
    been struggling to get us to focus on short time intervals. Very
    as in Andy's earlier notes and in Helen's recent note with the helpful
    reminders about Marianne H's writing, the time scale is
    *ontogenetic -*

    I am all for discussion of these time scales!! But the issue that
    Greg put
    on the table was about micro time scales (or I thought that was
    what the
    topic was). From our discussion so far (I have not had a chance to
    Huw's note carefully and have certainly forgotten other relevant
    contribution, so I may be overgeneralizing) I got the strong
    impression that
    it was being argued that at short time scales, the term
    development in any
    meaningful sense, does not apply.

    So, being interested in notions like a zone of proximal
    development, which
    presumably applies to interactions on a time scale closer to
    minutes than
    lifetimes, I have tried to get a focus there.

    I am arguing that if the term, development, is inappropriate at this
    briefer time scale, then there should be some very serious
    of Vygotsky's use of the zone of proximal development, since
    would be ruled out in all the examples he gives by virtue of the
    short time
    scale. So people who confuse a zone of proximal learning for a zone of
    proximal development have been right all along, just using misleading

    PS-- And while we are at it, a reconsideration of LSV's idea that in a
    zoped "one step in learning" should produce "two steps in
    development" also
    seems in order. My intuition is that Davydov was trying to point
    us right
    at that problem, and that his germ cell approach to development
    was his way
    of trying to deal with the issue, but others could probably speak
    to that
    better than I.


    On Sun, Oct 14, 2012 at 2:47 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
    <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    > Mike, I have attached a modified version of the document about
    > Asking Reading." Two pages which were out of order have been
    replaced in
    > order and I have embedded OCR so it should be searchable.
    Perhaps you could
    > replace NEWTECHN.pdf
    > on the server with this one?
    > Now, my hat off to the authors of this paper. I am sure others
    on this
    > list knew about *Question Asking Reading*, but I was not one of
    them. You
    > define reading as "/expanding/ the ability to mediate one's
    > with the environment by interpreting text." You recognise that a
    > already has an ability to "read the world" and is probably already
    > proficient in mediating their reading of the world by
    interacting with
    > adults, so learning to read is constructed upon this base. This
    is clearly
    > drawing on Vygotsky (credit to Piaget as well), and taking
    reading as a
    > specific kind of collaborative process rather than just a
    technical process
    > of decoding. You call on Luria's idea of "combined motor method" to
    > introduce an approach to combining diagnostic tasks with
    teaching tasks.
    > And you call on A N Leontyev to solve the crucial problem of the
    > motivation for learning to read.
    > (As an aside I much enjoyed the observation of how prominent it
    was for
    > the children to engage in discussion about the relation between
    > up" and learning to read. My one and only experience of teaching
    a child to
    > read hinged around this discussion. We were living in a very remote
    > location in the UK and her older brother was old enough to
    attend the
    > mixed-age primary school, but Sam was too young. This
    hyperactive, very
    > physical child suddenly focused on reading with startling
    intensity and
    > learnt to read fluently inside of a week. ... despite our
    > about the legal age of public school attendance. But very soon
    the school
    > willingly bent a rule or two and admitted her. :) )
    > Now I grant that my contributions to this thread have not gone
    within a
    > mile of the issues raised in this paper. But my interests and
    > are in social transformation, not teaching and learning in
    > schools. But I am willing to listen and learn.
    > A point of clarification on my side.
    > ZPD. I have heard it said that ZPD is relevant only to the
    critical phases
    > of development. I have also heard that ZPD was not a discovery
    of Vygotsky.
    > For my part, I don't see any reason why this simple idea is not
    > to any learning situation. And likwise if you want to introduce
    the concept
    > of "development" into qualitative achievements in the lytical
    phase of
    > development under the heading of "microgenesis" to distinguish
    it from the
    > whole process of growing into an adult citizen through a series
    of distinct
    > social roles, I see no problem with this. ... Only provided we
    > that if a child soldier who learns one day how to torture a
    prisoner, which
    > they were formerly reluctant to do, this is "development" in a
    > sense, because it creates only a barrier to becoming a citizen of a
    > community governed by democratic norms. But it would remain
    > if considered in cultural isolation. What makes every step along
    the road
    > of learning to read in countries like ours /development/ is that
    (as you
    > discussed with the kids) being able to read is a /sine qua non/
    of being a
    > grown up in our world. Torturing your peers is not.
    > In your message of almost 24 hours ago you said:
    > "If what you write is correct, what does the word DEVELOPMENT mean
    > in the concept of a zone of proximal DEVELOPMENT? ... classroom
    > lessons are clusters of events that take place in microgenetic time
    > WITHIN ontogenetic lythic periods.Where does that leave us?"
    > I am perfectly prepared to live with a lot of polysemy with a
    word like
    > "development" when one moves from context to context. Provided
    only we
    > don't claim that there is /no qualitative distinction/ between
    the little
    > developments that add up to development during a lytic phase,
    and the
    > change in social position of a child which is constituted by
    > completion of both lytic and critical phases of development. In
    that sense
    > there is development and development. If that is how you are
    deploying the
    > word "microgenesis," then fine. I just don't see any real
    > Andy
    > mike cole wrote:
    >> Hi Andy--
    >> I made it home through a ton of LA traffic alive, which,
    >> feels good whatever the larger significance.
    >> When you write "I personally regard it as a matter or "mere words"
    >> whether "child X at last managing to recognize the difference
    between d
    >> and b today," for example, is described as a development" it is
    clear that
    >> you and I are not close enough to the same topic for me to know
    how to make
    >> progress.
    >> It also appears that no more than four of the some 700 people
    on xmca
    >> give a damn about this topic, so lets go offline about it,
    cc'ing Greg,
    >> and David,
    >> if he has patience to hang with us.
    >> mike
    >> On Sat, Oct 13, 2012 at 8:44 AM, Andy Blunden
    <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net> <mailto:
    >> ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:
    >> Yeah, whoever translated Vygotsky's "Problem of Age" is
    >> responsible. It just means /gradual/. So in a process of
    >> development, you have alternating critical and lytical phases, as
    >> in stepwise processes.
    >> 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>
    >>> <mailto: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."
    >>> 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>>
    >>> <mailto: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>
    <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>>
    >>> -- Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
    >>> 883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
    >>> Department of Anthropology
    >>> Brigham Young University
    >>> Provo, UT 84602
    >> -- ------------------------------**------------------------------
    >> **------------
    >> *Andy Blunden*
    >> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
    >> <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/**>
    >> Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts
    >> ______________________________**____________
    >> _____
    >> xmca mailing list
    >> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
    <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>>
    > --
    > ------------------------------**------------------------------**
    > ------------
    > *Andy Blunden*
    > Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
    > Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts
    > __________________________________________
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Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Department of Anthropology
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602

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

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