Re: ZPD/Chaiklin and Vygotsky/Bakhtin

From: Peter Smagorinsky (
Date: Wed Jan 14 2004 - 07:44:16 PST

David, I'm not sure how to cite it, except as an email message. If time
allows I'll develop it into something else, but haven't yet found the time....
I'm wondering if imitation has a slightly different meaning in Russian than
English--Mike, Eugene, others, can you help us with this one?
I remember resisting my reading of Vygotsky's ideas on imitation initially
because of my own instantiations of imitation as rigid and mimetic, which
in our constructivist mindset suggests simple reproduction of form rather
than reconstruction. At the same time, I think of Benjamin Franklin's
autobiographical endorsement of imitation in his learning to write:

At about this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator. . . . I
bought it, read it over and over, and was much delighted with it. I thought
the writing excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it....

This, he says, is how he learned to write well.

The problem comes when in school imitation (e.g., imitating models of
writing) is accompanied by nothing procedural which allows for
appropriation of something conceptual. Reproduction, rather than
reconstruction, becomes the goal.

At 09:06 AM 1/14/2004 -0600, you wrote:

>Pity the theoretical excerpt was not included in the article. I find the
>section on imitation very useful, and would like to cite it. Can you
>suggest to me how APA might want me to do this (or give me whatever
>elements might need to be included in the citation of this unpublished
>work)? Also, please share any further insight you might have on the
>seemingly contradictory proposal that "Imitation, in contrast to the
>mimetic habituation involved in training, is part of what Vygotsky [1987]
>calls 'instruction' in which one learns something 'fundamentally new' (p.
>210). I'm intrigued by Van der Veer and Valsiner (1991) reading of
>Vygotsky that "'children are capable of intellectual, insightful
>imitation.' (pp. 344-345)."
>David Kirshner
> Peter
> Smagorinsky
> <smago who-is-at coe.uga.ed To:
> u> cc: (bcc: David H
> Kirshner/dkirsh/LSU)
> Subject: Re: ZPD/Chaiklin
> and Vygotsky/Bakhtin
> 01/14/2004
> 05:22
> AM
> Please respond
> to
> xmca
>At 06:00 PM 1/14/2004 +0700, you wrote: A question based on the article
>that might be worthwhile pursuing once the discussion of Paul's paper has
>subsided is based on Mike's observation of the underplaying of the idea of
>imitation. What is the "special" meaning that LSV attaches to the word
>For the article I recently attached on learning to teach the five-paragraph
>theme, we had originally written the attached theoretical section, which
>the reviewers recommended that we eliminate as irrelevant to the study.
>I've set it aside for potential use later, but it relates to Vygotsky's
>beliefs about imitation in relation to his discussion of the zpd and may
>contribute to a consideration of Phil's question. Peter(See attached file:
>The Zone of Proximal Development.doc)(See attached file: The Zone of
>Proximal Development.doc)

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