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[Xmca-l] Re: Critical Periods of Development

Thanks, Carmen.
I have always interpreted "crisis" as meaning an "impossible" situation. I.e., either the social environment has to be changed or the subject must change, because to continue in the current situation is "impossible". In general, it is interesting, isn't it, that to conceive of the process of development of the person, which at first sight seems to be inherently a continuous process, we have to break it up into discrete phases and periods, transforming development into a discrete process. I think this is necessary so that each situation can be grasped uniquely, as a 'concept'. As markers, these "crises" are therefore the key concepts. The various periods then become just what lies between this crisis and that crisis. I have a personal, unscientific view that the personality is formed in how a person resolves each of these crises. Because the crisis is an "impossible" situation, there is never just one way to resolve it, there are options, and it is through these processes that our preferences for dealing with the world are formed. But that is a very fallible guess.
*Andy Blunden*

Carmen Torres wrote:
I would like to connect the discussion with the way of conceptualizing development stages and crisis by Elkonin. In "Toward The Problem of Stages in the Mental Development of Children", written around 1970, Elkonin gives us a model of development in which he intends to depart from vygotsky's article "The problem of age" but turning off or, more exactly, developing further his initial goal. Elkonin propose stages connected to dominant activities. He insisted upon critical transitions in childdren's mental devlopment, which divides up into the transition from early childhood to preschool age and the transition from early school age to adolescence. Both transitions are refered as crisis. This two periods caracterize themselves by what he describes as "a tendency toward independence as well as a series of negative phenomena connected with his relations with adults". This results in a scheme general pattern of periods, stages and phases. Larger or smaller crises "periods" and "stages," are the ways in which development is conceived. I was trying to think about the implications of such categories. The meaning of "crisis" here is one point of discussion, but also all the model intrigues me when we try to relate the stages defined with dominant activities, which I consider one very productive concepts for further debate.

Carmen Torres

Universidad de la República

-----Mensaje original-----
De: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] En nombre de Andy Blunden
Enviado el: viernes, 25 de julio de 2014 1:30
Para: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Asunto: [Xmca-l] Critical Periods of Development

I have changed the subject line, Greg, because I think the issues you raise are relatively remote from the issues raised in the "ideal head" thread. The question of "critical periods of development" came to the fore again for me in relation to recent discussions about the concept of perezhivanie, a discussion which included Russians, who see perezhivanija as relevant only to development during adulthood. English-speakers have never taken perezhivanie in that way, taking it to cover the active relation of any subject to their environment and the emotion-laden experiences that are associated with critical periods of development in childhood, and only secondarily in adulthood.

In my view, the place of those experiences which adults have when finding themselves in impossible positions and which stimulate them to make a personal development, are symmetrical in many ways with the experiences of children when they experience a "rite of passage", taking up a different role in the family, with new needs met in new ways and subject to new expectations. Vygotsksy theorizes these crises in terms of "social situation of development" - a form of words which could equally apply to adults - such periods being terminated by periods of critical development, i.e., leaps.

There is a difference though. (1) For a child the key problem is becoming an adult and gaining the kind of mediated independence associated with being a 'sovereign', adult citizen of a community, whereas for the adult, who has already achieved that, the problem is indeterminate and diverse, arising usually when their life as it has hitherto gone along meets up with some barrier or conflict. (2) A child is not capable, it is said, of the kind of protracted working over of experiences and conscious restructure of their relationship to the world, alone; in general that role is fulfilled by adult carers who, once the child has thrown off their former role, constitute a new social position for the child by means of new expectations placed upon the child, a social position into which the child must grow.

Now I am not a psychologist and all I can do is interpret what I read from others, but that's how I see the situation. But these propositions are falsifiable and I expect child psychologists would want to test them. For my part, on the basis of my own experience as an adult who has been involved in organisations which demanded personal development from their members, I am comfortable that the concept of perezhivanie matches my experiences.


*Andy Blunden*

Greg Thompson wrote:
Mike, Helena, Andy and others,
I wonder if this passage from Vygotsky's the problem of Age can help in thinking about the problem: "The second feature of critical age levels served as a departure point for empirical study. The fact is that a significant proportion of children who experience critical periods of development are difficult children. These children seem to drop out of the system of pedagogical influence that until very recently provided a normal course for their training. and education. In children of school age during critical periods, there is a drop in rate of success, a slacking of interest in school work, and a general decline in capacity for work. At critical age levels, the child’s development frequently is accompanied by more or less sharp conflicts with those around him. The child’s internal life is sometimes connected with painful and excruciating experiences and with internal conflicts."

Although frankly, I'm not sure what is meant by "critical periods of development" and/or by "difficult children" (that second sentence baffles me). Help would be welcome here!

Andy, maybe you can help? (Andy has been helping me understand this essay offline).