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[Xmca-l] Re: Why Doesn't Vygotsky Use "Microgenesis"?
Thanks for the very thoughtful reply. I think the only word I might
possibly disagree with is "unfortunately". I suppose there may also be a
"zone of proximal learning", just as there is a zone of proximal evolution
(I suspect, given the mass extinctions which are going on in the
Anthropocene, that we are in one of these at present), and a zone of
proximal social progress (these have turned out to be far longer than I
ever thought as a young person). But I think for now it's a very good idea
to focus on the D in ZPD, and not to forget that it's for "development" and
not for learning.
Let me give three reasons. First of all, if we are interested in the what
word value looks like when we remove the sound that realizes it, we are
necessarily interested in a psychological rather than an interpersonal
phenomenon. Secondly, the focus on quick results in learning very often
ends up victimizing teachers for problems in development that have nothing
to do with teaching methods and are really developmentally rooted. Thirdly,
just as we need to understand exactly what teachers are doing before we go
about introducing interested changes, we also need to understand what
Vygotsky was trying to do before we decide it is irrelevant to our teaching
This morning I was working on the beginning of the "Crisis at Three", part
of which (but not the good part) can be read in Vol. Five of the Collected
Works in English (Vol. Four in Russian):
Во-первых, мы должны предположить, что все перемены, все события,
совершающиеся в период этого кризиса, группируются вокруг какого-либо
новообразования переходного типа. Следовательно, когда мы будем
анализировать симптомы кризиса, мы должны хотя бы предположительно ответить
на вопрос, что нового возникает в указанное время и какова судьба
новообразования, которое исчезает после него. Затем мы должны рассмотреть,
какая смена центральных и побочных линий развития здесь происходит. И
наконец, оценить критический возраст с точки зрения зоны его ближайшего
развития, т. е. отношения к следующему возрасту.
"Firstly, we must presume that all of the transformations, all the
happenings, that take place during the period of the crisis may be grouped
around some sort of neoformation of the transitional type. Consequently,
when we analyse the symptoms of the crisis, we must at the very least
presume to answer the question of what newness emerges at this appointed
time and what the fate of these neoformations which disappear afterwards
might be. Next, we should consider how the central and peripheral lines of
development here will unfold. And lastly, we ought to evaluate the critical
age from the point of view of the zone of its proximal development, i.e.
its relationship to the subsequent age."
"The zone of its proximal development" is its relationship to the
subsequent age! Almost by definition, if you present some
pedagogical intervention and it immediately becomes part of the child's
psychological system, you are looking at the zone of actual development,
and not the zone of proximal development at all.
Years ago, I told Mike that I kept mixing up microgenesis and learning. He
told me "Don't do that!" but he didn't exactly spell out how to avoid it:
instead, he arranged for me to review a book on Ganzheitpsychologie that
left me more confused than ever. So I think that's still what we need to do
now: but one way to start is simply to kick learning out of the ZPD.
On Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 1:44 AM, Arturo Escandon <email@example.com>
> Thank you for this David.
> I agree with what you are saying at many levels.
> Unfortunately, the kind of assessment I introduced did not have
> significant learning components. So the evaluation part of the
> assessment is not giving me much data about microgenesis but about
> ontogenesis. The "outcome" is not the result of the learning component
> for sure.
> My bet is that the links between L1 and L2 (which allow students to go
> beyond sound perception of words) are possible because of development
> in high school. More to do with L1 development. Again, the kind of
> interventions I am allowed to make in the classroom are very narrow
> and the structure and shape of the study programme prevents me from
> doing large longitudinal studies.
> I agree the notion of DA as it is used in the SLA literature presents
> many problems.
> On 11 October 2016 at 05:17, David Kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > Arturo:
> > Dynamic assessment is a really good example of what I'm talking about.
> > Dynamic assessment is supposedly based on the ZPD. But I think there are
> > three linked ways in which it is actually based on a distortion of the
> > a) Dynamic assessment looks at microgenesis, not ontogenesis. I think the
> > idea was originally that the microgenetic perturbations that were picked
> > in DA were, actually, predictive of the "next zone of development". But
> > there are two reasons why this has not happened. Firstly, there hasn't
> > a clear demarcation between learning and development, and the idea
> > that what the child can do today with assistance will be done by the
> > independently tomorrow--literally, in twenty-four hours--is just too
> > attractive to people like Matt Poehner and Jim Lantolf. Secondly, there
> > hasn't been a clear scheme for figuring out what the next zone of
> > development really is (it's there in Vygotsky's pedological lectures, but
> > these haven't been translated yet).
> > b) Dynamic assessment is "dynamic" and not diagnostic. It's interesting
> > compare the two Russian versions of Vygotsky's pedological lectures:
> > https://www.marxists.org/russkij/vygotsky/pedologia/
> > https://www.marxists.org/russkij/vygotsky/cw/pdf/vol4.pdf
> > Compare 2001: 191 with 1984: 260 (and also the English version, 1998:
> > 199!). It's not just that the Russian editors insist on replacing "test"
> > with "task"--it's that they consistently replace "diagnostic" with
> > "dynamic", even where this leads to redundant headings and total
> > Why? Well, because in the Soviet scheme of things, the ZPD is NOT
> > diagnostic: it's dynamic. That means that a personality is infinitely
> > malleable and tomorrow's development, with the right kind of mediation,
> > become today's. This is something that DA has largely adopted from its
> > Soviet roots....but it's not Vygotsky.
> > c) As a result DA has to reject the core of Vygotsky's method: for
> > Vygotsky, structure is to be explained by function, but function MUST be
> > explained by history, by development. Suppose I have two children. One
> > learns, the other doesn't. The structural explanation is simply that the
> > first one has the right mental structures to learn and the second does
> > The functional explanation is that the first has the right functional
> > motivation (putative career, middle class aspirations, etc) while the
> > does not. But the sad truth is that the vast majority of learning
> > difficulties really are developmental. I don't think that means that they
> > are destiny. But I do think it means that prevention is a whole lot
> > than cure. In DA, development is Markovian: the present and the future
> > linked causally--but not the past and the present: it's a weird inversion
> > of Aristotle's belief that the past was determined but the future is
> > intrinsically non-determinable.
> > David Kellogg
> > Macquarie University
> > On Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 3:52 PM, Arturo Escandon <
> > wrote:
> >> David,
> >> In my research about dynamic assessment I have been able to spot a
> >> moment students reorganise L1 and L2 concepts (related to urbanistic
> >> and architectural city features) in such a way that they no longer
> >> "perceive" the sounds of words. Students who do not arrive to that
> >> reorganisation are not able to escape from the perceptual challenge of
> >> oral utterances.
> >> The first group of students tend to mediate their linguistic
> >> production either in ideograms or Spanish-alphabet written words when
> >> asked to take notes. The second group tend to use the Japanese
> >> syllabic system to transliterate sounds.
> >> Best
> >> Arturo Escandón
> >> On 9 October 2016 at 07:21, David Kellogg <email@example.com> wrote:
> >> > When I read materials on Vygotsky, particularly in applied
> linguistics or
> >> > TESOL, I always get the "four timescales" (phylogenetic, sociogenetic,
> >> > ontogenetic, and microgenetic) from Mescharyakov's wonderful article
> >> > Vygotsky's terminology. At first, in the vain hope that it would help
> >> to
> >> > distinguish better between ontogenetic development and microgenetic
> >> > learning, I used this myself (see Song and Kellogg 2011).
> >> >
> >> > Now I think that was a mistake. The term "microgenesis" was around
> >> > Vygotsky was alive and he certainly knew about it: it's a constant
> >> feature
> >> > of Gestaltist studies of perception. It's also strongly associated
> >> the
> >> > Nazi psychology of Leipzig. Vygotsky knows about the term and doesn't
> >> > it, and I think he's got good reasons.
> >> >
> >> > Even where LSV agrees with the Gestaltists (Kohler, Koffka, Lewin,
> >> > Wertheimer, Selz--they weren't all Nazis!) he doesn't seem to use the
> >> term
> >> > microgenesis. And actually, he's quite interested in Nazi psychology
> >> > not afraid to quote it, although he bitterly, scathingly, denounces
> >> > Jaensch, Krueger, Ach, Kroh and others in "Fascism in
> Psychoneurology". I
> >> > think he doesn't use "microgenesis" because it conflates external
> >> > perception with perceiving meaning.
> >> >
> >> > Halliday, who also uses "phylogenetic" and "ontogenetic", calls his
> >> "micro"
> >> > scale logogenesis: the creation of semantics (as opposed to
> >> > social, or psychological semiosis). Take Zaza's article. At a
> >> > point, the participants become uninterested in perceptual high
> >> and
> >> > much more interested in meaning--what will Gogo think if she sees that
> >> her
> >> > daughter-in-law is using mechanical means for nursing?
> >> >
> >> > Of course, semantic meaning is always linked to perceptual meaning.
> >> > "linked" never means equal or mutual or fully reciprocal: the specific
> >> > weight is first on one side and then on the other. Microgenesis is
> >> you
> >> > get in eye tests, and logogenesis is what you get when you are reading
> >> > Zaza's article (and when you are reading this post).
> >> >
> >> > David Kellogg
> >> > Macquarie University