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[Xmca-l] Re: The zone of proximal development
I think I'm beginning to understand what all the Bernsteinian hullabaloo is
about. I have three thoughts about this.
First, I wonder where we might place one of the most important orations
(and perhaps the most important orator) of the 20th century in terms of
elaborated vs. restricted codes. I'm thinking here of MLK and his "I have a
dream" speech. Linguistically speaking, he is reporting his dream as if it
were an actual existent - not a hypothetical. He presents the
counterfactuals as a real and present factitive - a dream. And yet, at the
same time, the content of his dream is entirely counterfactual. His idea of
Mississippi as "an oasis of freedom and justice" is nothing if not
counterfactual (in 1963, but perhaps still today). And yet, this is not the
linguistic mode (code?) of "let's imagine" or "I hypothesize" or "what if?"
as in some hypothetical non-present existent. Linguistically speaking,
Mississippi IS an oasis of freedom and justice in a here and now existence
- even if that existence is only in a dream.
So, what do we make of this speech, given the notion of elaborated and
restricted codes? As a code, I assume it is a restricted code. And yet it
is doing all the counterfactual work of an elaborated code. [and if anyone
wants to revisit the factitive counterfactual (or is it counterfactual
facticity?) genius of the talk, here is a link to the transcript plus the
original audio: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm]
Second, you gave two options for remedying the problem of difference
between the elaborated codes of the school and the restricted codes of the
working class home - get parents to use elaborated codes in the home or get
teachers to use restricted codes in the schools. I wonder about a third
alternative to deal with this situation - acting lessons. I'm only half
joking here - Lois Holzman has an institute that does very much the sort of
thing that I have in mind here. But here I need to do some more
back-tracking to some points where I (think I) disagree with Bernstein's
(and Hasan's?) assumptions. Instead of assuming that these are abilities of
the individuals in question, I would propose an identitarian approach to
the restricted and elaborated codes problem. In this view, this difference
has everything to do with who one sees oneself as (which has everything to
do with who others see one as, as well as what kinds of inhabitable
identities are "see-able" - recognition). Thus, the problem of elaborated
vs. restricted codes is much more an issue of the kinds of talk that feel
"natural" to the speaker (and Franz Fanon has dealt with the problem of
speaking, bodies, and recognition very nicely in Black Skins, White Masks).
Certain ways of using language (codes) will feel awkward to the speaker. I
wonder if explicit teaching and practice can transform individuals such
that they will be willing to feel comfortable (if only as an "actor" at
first) in speaking codes that might feel awkward or even problematic for
them. This follows the well-known logic of "fake it 'til you make it".
I can specifically recall when I was presenting my master's thesis at a
conference for the first time. When I got to the height of the performance
of the high academic register of academic-ese (not easy!), I recall
stumbling over the words "semiotic fecundity" - words which had been so
easy to write but which now, as I performed them in front of an audience
became quite a mouthful. And this is precisely the point - the challenge of
"performing" in front of an audience - with all of the expectations that
this brings - again, note the role of "recognition". There is a poetics to
the matching of the "who we are" with the "how we talk" precisely because
the latter is so often taken as a diagrammatic icon of the former. Take,
for example, the many screeds that have been written about "bad" language -
whether of the creeping variety of novel and youthful linguistic forms that
pay no respect to tradition (like "like") or of the alternative varieties
of "just bad language" such as African-American English - with its supposed
illogics of double negation and copula deletions! So, the question then is:
how do you get a child who has grown up feeling natural in one code to
inhabit the identity that comes with speaking a different code? I think
acting classes are one very important possibility.
Finally, I came across an example that might help us think about the role
of context with regard to restricted and elaborated codes. The example
comes from Michael Silverstein's consideration of Don Brenneis' work among
a Hindi speaking community in Fiji (they were brought there from India as
migrant workers by British colonial powers). Brenneis documents two modes
of talk that are used - one is for the formal pancayat context (the ritual
governing body of the community), the other is used in the informal talanoa
context (basically, "men's gossip"). Note that the type of talk used in the
informal talanoa context (called jangli bat, or "jungle talk") is highly
presupposing and involves "a low degree of explicit, orderly, and complete
descriptive information, the kind, say, we claim we value in expository
communication and inculcate in institutions of learning" (Silverstein
2013). Indeed, Brenneis notes that if you you only had transcripts of the
conversation and were not a party to the talk and, more importantly, to the
social life of those talking, you would have no idea what was happening in
the conversations. Additionally, there is a discourse marker that is
repeatedly used "bole", which means "says." Note that this is just a
generic metapragmatic reportative and no indication is given with regard to
WHO says (or even the specifics of WHAT exactly was said) just a narration
of events that were "said" to have happened. This is about as restricted as
a code can get.
Yet, with regard to the context of this kind of talk, these "restrictions"
of the code are precisely the point of this form of talk. They are highly
functional and accomplish at least two things. First, they afford the
speakers a certain amount of plausible deniability in the potentially
profaning act (for object and for speaker...) of gossip. By poetically
punctuating their speech with "says" without indicating who says (and
certainly not the speaker who "says" this!), they remove themselves from
the role of author or principal of the talk and all the responsibility that
comes authoring gossip. Second, the use of "says" creates a sense in which
the speaker is just reporting what is common knowledge in the community
(and, of course, gossip always both is and isn't common knowledge).
So, the point here is that the restricted code is entirely appropriate
(even essential) in this context. To speak otherwise would be foolish.
A bit too elaborate?
On Wed, Jul 8, 2015 at 2:36 AM, David Kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I guess I think that "cooperation", where there is strong, well classified
> division of labor, is external, extra-mental, because the decision making
> function is not internalized by the child yet. But "collaboration",
> ideally, represents a moment where each child has internalized the
> "decision taker". But of course there's more to it than that--"cooperation"
> seems to be associated with Bernstein's elaborated code, and
> "collaboration" with the restricted one.
> Basil Bernstein was a working class kid himself, and he had a strong sense
> that he and other working class kids were at a strong LINGUISTIC
> disadvantage in school. It was as if the working class kids were attending
> school in a foreign language, while the middle class kids could just use
> the language that they used at home. But the vocabulary and a lot of the
> grammar really looked the same. So it wasn't until he met Michael Halliday
> that it became possible to describe some of the big SEMANTIC differences,
> which Bernstein described as differences in "coding orientation". If you
> are part of a social group that is mostly composed of identical,
> interchangeable units (that is laboring "collaborators" and not operating
> "cooperators") then you have certain linguistic tendencies:
> a) Encoding circumstances that are "here" and "now" (that is, talking about
> things that we can all see).
> b) Encoding participants that are either the speaker or hearer or very
> similar to the speaker and hearer (that is, talking about "me and you" or
> talking about others who are just like us).
> c) Encoding material processes and mental processes rather than relational
> or existential ones (that is, using lots of concrete actions rather than
> abstract relations, lots more verbs like "make up" than verbs like
> d) More use of "the", "this", "that", "there", "then", and "thus". Less
> complex noun phrases.
> e) More use of the direct and factual. Less use of the hypothetical and
> Bernstein called this collaborative orientation a "restricted" code,
> because it is a subset of the "elaborated code" that people use when they
> talk about things that are not in the visual purview, people who are not
> part of our world, abstract relations rather than concrete actions, and
> hypothetical and conditional worlds as well as the real one.
> Last week I pointed out the difference between:
> "Brother Barack" (assumes that we are all equal, interchangeable,
> "President Obama" (assumes that we are all individuated, noninterchangeable
> Consider the following two talks that Obama gave after the Charleston
> shootings, and you will see the difference:
> In the first one, we hear the voice of "Brother Barack", while in the
> second you can hear "President Obama". Brother Barack speaks a restricted
> code--even his poetic language, e.g. "they believed in things unseen"
> avoids conditionals and hypotheticals, and draws heavily on concrete and
> graphic language. But President Obama uses a lot more modulation, a lot
> more hypothetical orientation.
> You won't be surprised to learn that Ruqaiya was very interested in
> Vygotsky and Luria. She thought that Vygotsky was too focused on word
> meanings (the difference between restricted and elaborated codes goes WELL
> beyond "everyday" and "academic" words). She also thought that Luria's work
> with Uzbek peasants and Uzbek school teachers showed different coding
> orientations, and not different vocabularies.
> I think there are really TWO ways of approaching the problem of coding
> a) We can try to make the home language more like school language. That is,
> use the language of "cooperation" and not collaboration at home. This was
> Vygotsky's way.
> b) We can also try to make school language much more like working class
> home language: concrete, vivid, here and now, factual. That is, use the
> language of "collaboration" and not simply cooperation at school. As Mike
> argues, it is possible to form concepts using everyday language. If it were
> not possible, then so-called primitives would never have concepts--but they
> do. (And if it were not possible, we primitive Western Europeans would
> never have bloody developed concepts either because for most of us the word
> is only ready when the concept is.)
> Of course, good parents do a lot of a) whenever they read to their children
> (this is probably why television is so bad for kids--it's all restricted
> code!) and good teachers do a lot of b) anyway (a good teaching example is
> always a pretty immediate, concrete, factual one that is meaningful to
> speaker and hearer and visualizable).
> And of course cooperation and collaboration are really just two different
> moments in the internalization of a function: first there is the division
> of labor between the decision-maker and the decision-obeyer, and only later
> is their fusion between the two. So what difference would b) really make in
> the classroom?
> A big difference. If we accept that b) is our goal, then we are going to
> have to accept that the main danger in teaching is that children will take
> the restricted, collaborative code we offer and stop there--that they will
> never learn to use that restricted, collaborated code to academic concepts
> and instead remain at the level of concrete, everyday thinking in concrete,
> everyday language.
> David Kellogg
> On Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 10:45 AM, HENRY SHONERD <email@example.com> wrote:
> > About what David has just written:
> > Seeing scaffolding as a moment in a zone of proximal learning works for
> > me, but why is it “a rather extrreme and externalized moment"?
> > I like the return to freedom a lot. Can’t talk about that too much.
> > But I couldn’t pull up the paper he linked us up to, not a single one of
> > the 33,000 words! What’s wrong with me?
> > Henry
> > > On Jul 6, 2015, at 6:42 PM, David Kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:
> > email@example.com>,om> wrote:
> > >
> > > Ah, but is it a zone of proximal development--or just a zone of
> > > learning? And for whom?
> > >
> > > Henry asked--some time ago--about the difference between scaffolding
> > > the zoped, and I argued that scaffolding could be seen as one
> > moment--but a
> > > rather extreme and externalized moment--of a zone of proximal learning,
> > but
> > > not a zone of proximal development.
> > >
> > > The shape this problem takes in Korea is really a debate over the
> > > respective merits of collaboration and cooperation. The idea is that
> > > collaboration (which conspicuously contains the word "labor") does not
> > > involve the division of labor and does not involve one party making
> > > decisions and the other executing them, while cooperation does; ergo,
> > > collaboration is a kind of cell for the ideal society and cooperation
> > a
> > > cell for capitalism.
> > >
> > > Needless to say, Vygotsky doesn't agree with this at all: almost all of
> > his
> > > examples are, on the contrary, examples of highly asymmetrical
> > of
> > > labor (mother and child, teacher and child doing homework, experimenter
> > and
> > > subject, etc.). It is only through the revolutionary graspture and
> > radical
> > > restructuring and interior redecoration of the function of the decision
> > > maker that we get free will. So cooperation and collaboration turn out
> > > be moments of the same process, but that process is, after all, a zone
> > > proximal learning and not necessarily a zone of proximal development.
> > >
> > > I guess I find it useful to distinguish between an "everyday concept"
> > > the Zoped and a "scientific concept" of the Zoped. This corresponds
> > or
> > > less the distinction that Seth Chaiklin (2003) makes between the
> > subjective
> > > (child by child) zoped and the objective (age cohort) zoped, except
> > it
> > > is functional and genetic in its description rather than structural.
> > >
> > > We are presenting a longish paper on this on Saturday at a workshop in
> > > Kangweondo. Here's the English version!
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > (Warning--it's 33,000 words long, and almost all the examples are from
> > > Korean education!)
> > >
> > > David Kellogg
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On Mon, Jul 6, 2015 at 8:21 AM, HENRY SHONERD <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > wrote:
> > >
> > >> Annalisa,
> > >> Thanks for sharing! There may be a similar referendum in Puerto Rico.
> > What
> > >> a world!
> > >> H
> > >>
> > >>> On Jul 5, 2015, at 3:52 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <email@example.com>
> > >>>
> > >>> Henry,
> > >>>
> > >>> Clever mom!
> > >>>
> > >>> This will likely be a very memorable event for the both of them.
> > >>>
> > >>> Actually, I found this photograph quite moving, because, well... for
> > >> many many reasons!
> > >>>
> > >>> So thanks for letting me share it!
> > >>>
> > >>> Kind regards,
> > >>>
> > >>> Annalisa
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602