[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: Understanding "functions" within the "zone" of proximal development



Message from Francine"

 Hi Larry,

Yes, I agree there is an way in which my perspective and Chaiklin's can
be intertwined. First, my reading of Vygotsky is that higher functions are
consciously directed, unlike elementary functions which are spontaneous.
For Vygotsky all functions first exist (in animals, and in infants and preschoolers)
as spontaneous processes of attention, perception, emotion, imagination, and
realistic thinking. Through the process of the internalization of the verbal guidance
of a more knowledgeable person, these functions become consciously directed
attention, perception, emotions, imagination, and realistic thinking (i.e., become
higher functions).

But, there is also a training in cultural traditions of thinking (what Chaiklin calls
functions) - in particular, realistic thinking can develop into several disciplines
of logical/ analytical thinking such as Aristotelian logic, dialectical thinking,
mathematics, and thinking in scientific concepts. An interesting question arises:
Can someone think in scientific concepts but not be able to consciously direct
their own thinking in scientific concepts? Such a person would have acquired
higher level thinking in Chaiklin's use of the term but not in Vygotsky's use of
the term 'higher functions'. Such a person would lack metacogntive awareness
of how their own thought processes proceed. This would be a high level
practitioner in a form of disciplinary thinking, who just robotically follows a
procedural way of thinking. I think there are people like that.

A second point to keep in mind, is that Vygotsky used the term higher psychological
functions rather than higher mental functions. For the most part, the terms can be
used inter-changeably. Higher psychological function is more appropriate when
discussing consciously directed emotions. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a practical application of Vygotsky and Luria's writings (by Donald Meichenbaum), that uses
the verbal guidance of the therapist as a model for the client's self-talk to help the
client control their own emotions and moods. Also, Vygotsky did say that different 
higher psychological functions can function together as psychological systems.

I will look more closely at Gadamer's writings. If reciprocal interaction means
that the cultural traditions are both internalized and changed by the individual -
I agree. The latter part is the central point in my understanding of  Vygotsky's theory of creativity. Through both internal dialogues (dialectics) and external conversations
new ideas, art forms, inventions,emerge.

Oh, one more point my understanding of the research on collaborative learning is that
it is most effective when someone in the peer group knows something more than
the others. That something more moves the group into the zone of proximal
development. Peers might be at the same level in many areas, but as individuals
they might have higher level skills that they can help the others acquire. For, example
if a group is working on an original story, someone might be good at metaphorical
thinking but not the best in grammar and spelling. Other people might be very good at grammar and/or spelling.



> Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2015 07:54:25 -0800
> From: lpscholar2@gmail.com
> To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Understanding "functions" within the "zone" of proximal development
> 
> Francine,
> Your answer to my question moves me to return to the notion of "reciprocal
> interaction" and my interest in Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics.  Is
> it possible that Chaiklin's understanding of "functions" [as expressing
> "traditions"] and your elaboration of Vygotsky's "functions" such as
> "imagination and analytic thinking" are intertwined and that we can imagine
> the person " a if" a weaver of tapesties that INCLUDE both understandings
> of "functions" [crystallized and open-ended]  The term "reciprocal
> interaction" I am approaching as Simmel used this term.  Francine, your
> statement:
> 
>  "Vygotsky introduced something very different. The dynamics of consciously
> directing
> one's own thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and behaviors  allows for
> creativity.
> Vygotsky also said that consciously directed higher mental functions (such
> as imagination
> and analytic thinking) can be used in collaboration as psychological
> systems"
> 
> I am asking if there is "space" or the possibility of opening a "zone"
> where yours and Chaiklin's notions of "function" can mutually and
> reciprocally enrich each "other" ?
> 
> I look forward to reading your chapter [and book]
> 
> Larry
> 
> 
> 
> On Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 11:24 PM, larry smolucha <lsmolucha@hotmail.com>
> wrote:
> 
> > Message from Francine Smolucha:
> >
> > Larry,
> >
> > Seth Chaiklin in redefining Vygotsky's terminology (functions and zone of
> > proximal
> > development), creates a developmental model that is very static. Vygotsky,
> > however,
> > is very clear in describing a dynamic model of how elementary
> > psychological functions
> > develop into consciously directed higher psychological functions through
> > the internalization
> > of speech. This is very different from Chaiklin defining higher
> > psychological (or mental)
> > functions as higher level concepts involving more abstract thinking, such
> > as scientific
> > concepts - this is more like an cultural model of Piagetian concrete and
> > formal operational
> > thinking.
> >
> > I think you hit the mark when you said that Chaiklin's developmental model
> > produces
> > crystallized and sedimented psychological functions that are preordained
> > by a particular
> > culture. [This is different from Piaget's structuralist theory in which
> > reasoning with scientific concepts naturally emerges at certain ages]. By
> > making the term 'higher' simply refer to
> > the higher skill level designated by a particular culture - it all becomes
> > culturally relative.
> >
> > Vygotsky introduced something very different. The dynamics of consciously
> > directing
> > one's own thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and behaviors  allows for
> > creativity.
> > Vygotsky also said that consciously directed higher mental functions (such
> > as imagination
> > and analytic thinking) can be used in collaboration as psychological
> > systems.
> > This is exactly what contemporary neuroscience has found in its
> > brain-imaging
> > studies (fMRI) of the prefrontal neocortex.
> >
> > My husband (Larry Smolucha) and I are writing a chapter titled
> > "Neuropsychological
> > Systems of Cultural Creativity" for the 2nd edition of Vygotsky and
> > Creativity.
> > Cathrene, Vera, and Ana suggested to their acquisitions editor that Larry
> > and I expand
> > that chapter into a book. (So yes indeed, I can cite my sources including
> > Vygotsky's
> > works in Russian or contemporary neuroscience.)
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > > Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 21:08:35 -0800
> > > From: lpscholar2@gmail.com
> > > To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Understanding "functions" within the "zone" of
> > proximal     development
> > >
> > > Seth Chaiklin's article has me reflecting on the meaning of "functions".
> > >
> > > The article's concluding comment is:
> > >
> > > According to the analysis presented here, the zone of proximal
> > development
> > > refers to the maturing functions that are relevant to the next age period
> > > and that enable performance in collaborative situations that could not be
> > > achieved independently.  These *functions* are not created in
> > interaction,
> > > rather interaction provides conditions for identifying their existence
> > and
> > > the extent to which they have developed."
> > >
> > > I read this as indicating that the functions analyzed are "crystallized"
> > or
> > > "sedimented" forms that "objectively" exist as "generalized" structures.
> > > Within "socially situated" settings individual persons will subjectively
> > > move through a sequence of predictable "periods".  Within modern social
> > > situations "school" is a predictable social situation and it is the goal
> > or
> > > desire to develop "scientific concepts" in school settings.
> > >
> > > Therefore functions described as "higher mental functions" exist in
> > > particular historical social situations of development, not universally
> > > applicable situations. To be more specific "scientific concepts function
> > > within school situations of development. As  Chaiklin writes:
> > >
> > > "It is important to recognize that these periods are not reflecting a
> > > biological necessity (because of genetic or other organic sources), even
> > > though the development of higher psychological functions (e.g. ,
> > > perception, voluntary memory, speech, thinking) are dependent on these
> > > natural conditions. .... Similarly, none of the psychological functions
> > are
> > > 'pure' in the sense of a biologically given module or faculty."  [page 7]
> > >
> > > In other words there exists an "objective" zone [a general zone] which
> > > Chaiklin clarifies as a tripartite constellation of "present age",
> > > "maturing function", and "next age"  AS "the objective zone of proximal
> > > development" [page 7] This zone is objective in the sense that it does
> > not
> > > refer to any individual child, but reflects [mirrors] the psychological
> > > functions that need to be formed during a given age period of development
> > > [and in particular the higher scientific or school concepts developed in
> > > school situations.]  In order to approach the more abstract concepts
> > [which
> > > are going "higher"]  psychological functions need to develop first in
> > order
> > > to move to the next "period" or situation of concept development [verbal
> > > thought].
> > >
> > > Chaiklin then makes a clear statement of the characteristic of this
> > > objective zone:
> > >
> > > "The 'objective' zone is not defined a priori, but reflects the
> > structural
> > > relationships that are *historically-constructed and objectively
> > > constituted* in the historical period in which the child lives. One can
> > say
> > > that the zone for a given age period is normative, in that it
> > > *reflects *[LP-mirrors]
> > > the institutionalized demands and expectations that developed
> > historically
> > > in a particular societal *tradition of practice*.  For example school age
> > > children are expected to develop capabilities to reason with academic
> > > (i.e., scientific) concepts. Individuals who do not develop this
> > > *capability* can be said to *have* [LP - possess] a different
> > intellectual
> > > structure.... Reasoning with concepts is a specific manifestation of the
> > > new-formations for this age ... " [page7]
> > >
> > > In other words functions which develop are "new" formations which are
> > > normative [ "crystallized" or "sedimented"].
> > >
> > > The question that I am left with is the relation of these normative
> > > functions existing within particular social situations of development
> > when
> > > the social situations that now exist become the object of deep
> > questioning?
> > > This type of reflection and speculation is entering the realm of "what
> > > if".  What if the "objective" zone of proximal development and its "new"
> > > formations [crystallized, sedimented] itself becomes the "object" of
> > > inquiry?
> > >
> > > I hope my train of thought is coherent? Chaiklin's article brought
> > clarity
> > > to my understanding of "functions" as key concepts for understanding the
> > > meaning and sense of ZPD.
> > >
> > > Larry
> >
> >