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[Xmca-l] Re: good article attached



Hi Julian,

I appreciate the sentiment behind your questions.

For the record, these are my interpretations, which are not authoritative, nor total(itarian).

No matter what an environment is, it is going to have some kind of developmental learning potential in it. It may not be the kind of learning that is warranted by what is considered "the higher good." Furthermore, the content and contexts taught and taught in can create more suffering than nurturance, in reference to what is required for a liberated person. 

I am looking to the ideal of the liberated person as our orientation or reference point, because I believe it is a universal desire for all humans to want to be free, and if we all want to be free, then we should all want to be free together. 

There will likely be people who believe that only some people can be or deserve to be free. That kind of worldview/philosophy is going to influence the content and contexts created in environments for learning. Oddly, I can't imagine anyone wanting to self-select oneself to be undeserving of liberation if it is believed only some people deserve freedom.

Thus, if a learning environment creates suffering (rather than prevent or reduce suffering), all possible learning, while personal –since there is nothing more personal when feeling pain and being subject to suffering– is going to be antithetical to liberation, no matter what the intentions. The learning will not be "good learning" because it is conducted in an atmosphere of fear. 

In an environment that is focused upon liberation for all, teachers and students are empowered to think for themselves in the present moment.

The key to understanding Vygotsky in my opinion is understanding this "present moment" of learning, as the instant of change, which is developmental. For me, this is referenced with the word and meaning of perezhivanie –lived-through experience– which allows the student (and teacher) to learn through meaning-making. Meaning-making happens on many different levels in many different ways, but who decides what is meaningful? It would be the person learning, not the environment, nor the particular pedagogy. However, if what is taught is meaningless, it is likely to have either no effect or a negative effect in relation to the liberated student and liberated teacher. 

Meaning-making is not necessarily joyful, it can be evoked by negative experiences, but these can also stunt authentic learning, because a person who doesn't feel completely safe, isn't going to feel motivated to be curious, inquisitive, or take risks, all attitudes and emotional states that are required for a person to take possession of one's own learning. True learning involves joy in some way or another. 

I have noticed that the emotional component to Vygotsky's model frequently gets lost in the shuffle, as if ZPD is solely cognitive and behavioral. It can look that way if the emotional or affective aspects are removed or not considered essential (thank you Descartes!). In such cases, it would appear to be a reproductive system for an unchanging culture, but I wouldn't call that a Vygotskian model for learning.

Kind regards,

Annalisa