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[Xmca-l] Re: Memorial tribute for Paula Towsey

Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute for a life well lived with
us.  Much appreciated.  Artin

On Wed, August 13, 2014 12:25 pm, Carol Macdonald wrote:
> Hello Colleagues
> Here is the text which was presented at the funeral of Paula Towsey - a
> force in CHAT - on 12th August 2014:
> Tribute from the XMCA Community
> Paula Towsey was one of us. In fact, she was one of a very few of us who
> have not just read Vygotsky's major work, *Thinking and Speech, *but tried
> to get inside it, to bring it back to life and remake it with living and
> breathing, thinking and speaking children of our own times. None of us in
> the XMCA community outside of Africa know much about her life before she
> began her research. We have heard that she was a teacher, that she
> rejected
> teaching under apartheid and spent at least part of her career in exile in
> Botswana, and that somewhere along the way she must have learned lots
> about
> music and South African wine and Milan Kundera and wildlife.
> But mostly we know that she knew an awful lot about one chapter of
> Vygotsky's book, the chapter which describes a series of experiments in
> which children are encourage to form concepts in order to solve a puzzle.
> In Vygotsky's original experiment in the Soviet Union of the 1920s, the
> children used blocks of various sizes and colours. More playfully, Paula
> used a set of trolls, which varied in hairiness and whether they were
> right
> handed or left handed to extend these experiments. But Paula also went to
> unbelievable lengths to recover in the most unimaginable detail all the
> conditions of Vygotsky's experiment all those years ago, and to replicate
> them in present-day South Africa. Even clue and every source, however
> remote, was tracked down and interrogated. Her success in reproducing
> Vygotsky's results in the completely different cultural and historical
> conditions of present-day South Africa is of considerable importance. For
> a
> postgraduate student to have achieved this is remarkable. And her passion
> for defending and advocating for the significance of these experiments, in
> the face of criticism from prominent figures in our community was
> outstanding. Her article on these experiments was published in MCA in
> 2009,
> and this paper ranks the *third highest* of any article in our journal for
> the number of times it has been downloaded.
> Several of us participated in the production of an on-line video, which
> Paula directed, discussing these experiments. She used PowerPoint to
> create
> a vehicle for Mike Cole and David Kellogg to explain their interpretation
> of these experiments in dialogue with each other and her. Her role as
> producer involved the collection of graphics and a voice over which gave
> the otherwise amateur production a BBC quality which was striking. And
> showing the same spirit that she had displayed in chasing down the details
> of Vygotsky's experiments in Soviet Russia, a glitch which Paula came
> across in combining the audio files with PowerPoint - an imperfection
> which
> thousands before must have tolerated - she chased down and badgered
> MicroSoft until they put it right.
> Any of us who had the chance to visit Johannesburg will almost certainly
> have enjoyed Paula's hospitality, for Paula was a compulsive hostess who
> put the same attention to detail, ebullience and care into her role as
> hostess as she seemed to put into every one of her endeavors.
> For those of us who want to continue Paula's work on concept formation,
> Paula is a hard act to follow. But she was one of us. Of course, that
> means
> that without her we are all one fewer: our work is going to necessarily be
> poorer for her passing.
> --
> Carol A  Macdonald Ph D (Edin)
> Developmental psycholinguist
> Academic, Researcher,  and Editor
> Honorary Research Fellow: Department of Linguistics, Unisa

Artin Goncu, Ph.D
Co-editor, Mind, Culture, and Activity:An International Journal
Professor Emeritus,
University of Illinois at Chicago
College of Education M/C 147
1040 W. Harrison St.
Chicago, IL 60607