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[Xmca-l] Re: Two worlds, Urie Bronfenbrenner



Ulvi, Larry...and Martin (not necessarily in that order!)

I have some wonderful data from an ex-grad student (back in my professorial
days). It is shortly after the terrible Sewol disaster, when a whole
boatload of young working class high school students were drowned like rats
thanks to the malign neglect of the captain, the crew, but above all the
unregulated ferry company and the unregulating government. The teacher's
trying to get the kids to remember and WRITE one of my cute little
Bowdlerizations of Shakespeare's Hamlet. She's told them about the death of
Ophelia, and now they are going to learn about it from the mouth of
Hamlet's mother Gertrude and through the eyes and ears of Ophelia's brother
Laertes. :

Gertrude: Your sister’s drowned, Laertes!
Laertes: Drowned? Oh, where?
Gertrude: Where? There. By the stream.
Laertes: By the stream? When?
Gertrude: When? Just now. She climbed a tree.
Laertes: She climbed a tree? Why did she?
Gertrude She went mad. Then she fell down.
She fell in. And then she...drowned.
Laertes: She has too much water now.
No more tears. I want blood.

We've divided the kids up into pairs, with one writing down Gertrude's
lines and the other those of Laertes. The kids then try to reconstruct the
scene using their lines. But in the event, this is what we get:

Gertrude: Your sister drowned.
Laertes: Drowned? Oh! Where?
Gertrude: She drowned.
Laertes: She drowned? When?
Gertrude: She, now ,now.
Laertes: I don’t like Hamlet. I want Hamlet’s kill.
Gertrude: Maybe you kill Hamlet. I will kill you.
Laertes: Oh! No!

Now, I submit to Larry that this is creativity, or "being towards", but it
is INVOLUNTARY creativity. The children are not being creative because like
good little romantic poets they believe that the spark of the eternal is
embodied in each individual creative breast, nor are they being creative
because they want to grow up and be Shakespeare, Gertrude, or even Laertes.
They are being creative because they would like to be totally uncreative
and imitative and their memory isn't up to it.

I submit to Martin that the interpersonal (that is, the dialogic, the
improvisational) is totally linked to the social (that is, the monologic,
in this case the memorizable) but it is just as true to say that they are
totally distinct. What is above all true is that you cannot get from one to
the other without a fight (a crisis).

And, of course, I submit to Ulvi that that fight is "revolutionary" in
every sense of the word (including the archaic sense of an "inward turning"
which is the sense that Vygotsky uses). The child is trying to seize
control of the means of development, that is, the wording, and the child
finds to his chagrin that it is not so easy to be both the site of
development and the source, that the means of development just gives you
more meaning than you know what to do with.

I think child development can be seen in this way. The revolutionary crises
in development happen for the same reason they happen in world history: the
power of being social beings simply overflows the interpersonal relations
that we build to hold them in the same way that the power unleashed by
social revolutions in Russia and China swamped the petty aspirations of the
incompetent and unimaginative bureaucracies at the helm, and all they could
do with that power is to sink the whole ship.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University




 (which ultimately cost me my job)


On Sun, Mar 13, 2016 at 12:13 AM, Martin John Packer <
mpacker@uniandes.edu.co> wrote:

> I would have reached the opposite conclusion, David: that the social and
> interpersonal are thoroughly interpenetrated. The interactions a child has
> with her parents are profoundly shaped by the work that they are involved
> in. The food she eats, for example, is what is made possible by the wages
> the parents learn. The hours they are available to her at home depend on
> the hours they need to dedicate to work.  The child does not know this
> explicitly, of course, but she is living the contradictions of social class
> and the political economy of the society as a second nature, as though they
> are a natural necessity.
>
> Martin
>
>
>
>
> > On Mar 11, 2016, at 5:33 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > To me, what is most Marxist about Bronfenbrenner is his recognition that
> > the most important ecosystem in the development of the child is one that
> > the child never even lays eyes on: what Daddy (and more rarely Mommy)
> have
> > to do for a living. This was a very unpopular thing to say, and it still
> > is, because it is not only Marxist but Durkheimian: it implies that the
> > social and the interpersonal really are two qualitatively different
> levels
> > of being requiring two qualitatively different kinds of analysis
>
>
>