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[Xmca-l] Re: Play Hath Yet Its Toil

While awaiting your translation of the problem of age in 2012 form,
congrats on the prizes for your previous work David. Great work.

Its memorial day holiday here. As for the preschool, so for the university,
methinks, sometimes.


On Sat, May 23, 2015 at 2:25 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:

> One of my graduate students found this editorial by David Kohn in the New
> York Times and we have been discussing it:
> http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/opinion/sunday/let-the-kids-learn-through-play.html?_r=0
> As you can see, a lot of the article is written in a tone Halliday would
> call "childist": that is, there is the assumption that spontaneous,
> naturalistic activities on the part of the child are inherently and
> intrinsically developmental, and that activities which are involve doing
> this that children do not spontaneously do themselves are inherently and
> intrinsically anti-developmental. It's very easy to write this way, and
> it's a crowd-pleaser.
> But it is the opposite of what Vygotsky writes. Yesterday we were puzzling
> over the last part of "Problem of Age", where Vygotsky marshalls three
> arguments, not against "The Younger the Better" but rather against the idea
> that higher cognitive functions must develop along the lines of "The Older
> the Better".
> First of all, the higher functions are always built WITH and not ON the
> lower ones. So for example in language learning the child doesn't learn
> vowels and consonants first and then go on to learn nouns and verbs next
> and top it all off with sentences and paragraphs. No, the child must learn
> all of them at the same time: as Saussure says, thinking and speech are
> BOTH disorganized, but in their mutual decomposition they organize each
> other.
> Secondly, even at preschool level, teachers understand that children learn
> best when they are learning what they do not know how to do and not what
> they already know how to do. So for example even the teachers who use Eric
> Carle books to teach English to elementary school kids in Korea understand
> perfectly well that they are not teaching the children anything they don't
> know about colors or animals; they argue that they are teaching new foreign
> language vocabulary and grammar (the problem is that they are NOT teaching
> new word meanings!)
> Thirdly, and I think most germane to Kohn's article, Vygotsky argues that
> neoformations are the consequence of lines of development and not their
> cause: new functions are built, not on development, but on developING. I
> don't think this invalidates what Kohn says--it actually gives it a
> scientific rather than simply a rhetorical basis. Truly developed play
> (e.g. rule based play with winners and losers) only emerges at the END of
> preschool. But for that very reason it is not the activity on which we want
> to build the child's primary school curriculum. (And...from the child's
> point of view...the intense competiveness we sometimes see in academic work
> is actually a realization of the attempt to build a primary school
> curriculum on this form of play!)
> As Tennyson could have said but did not: Preschool hath yet its toil and
> its honor.
> David Kellogg
> PS: I have some good news. Two of our Vygotsky books, the second volume of
> HDHMF and the first volume of the Pedological Lectures, won the 2015 prize
> for the top one hundred academic books in Korea.
> dk


All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes
you see something you weren't noticing which makes you see something
that isn't even visible. N. McLean, *A River Runs Through it*