Re: ZPD/Chaiklin and Vygotsky/Bakhtin

From: Peter Smagorinsky (
Date: Thu Jan 15 2004 - 06:17:23 PST

Phil, I think your take on the zpd resonates with conceptions that have
come about through the work of Leont'ev, Cole, Rogoff, Moll, and many others.

I think your question: "Is this a potential appropriation of the ZPD that
steers too far from its original roles?" relates to a discussion we've had
here before: Was Vygotsky really a contextualist? When I read books like
Cultural Psychology (which I'm using in a course this semester), I adopt a
contextualist perspective on Vygotsky's core ideas. Yet when I go back and
read him, I don't see the contextual view as much. The zpd question is a
good example: If you go back and read what Vygotsky wrote, it's primarily a
teacher-learner relationship without all the attention to how both, and
their mediational cultural artifacts, are contextualized and conditioned
historically. I've always assumed that had Vygotsky lived longer, he'd
have gravitated in this direction (assuming that his relationship with
Leont'ev was one of reciprocal teaching and learning); but then, I've also
heard Jim Wertsch say that he's found no evidence in Vygotsky's writing to
suggest that he would have done so.

So, with respect to your question, I think that yes, it steers away from
the zpd's original conception, but then I would expect it to in today's
climate. Too far? That's hard to say, though I think it's well within the
bounds of what our current thinking allows as a Vygotskian interpretation.

At 08:58 PM 1/15/2004 +0700, you wrote:

>On Jan 14, 2004, at 6:22 PM, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:
>>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
>Peter and All,
>I agree, it's a shame your theoretical section didn't go public, but I
>guess it kind of has now.
>You utilised Moll's view of the ZPD as social contexts for fuller
>appropriation and conscious awareness of cultural tools. You concluded
>that AT provides a lens to view learning without the mediation of explicit
>instruction by an expert other, but rather through mediation of other
>cultural tools. In my teaching, I have experimented with various ways to
>build into language learning tasks scaffolding tools that might be taken
>up as mediators of learning by learners during meaningful communicative
>language activity. **Might be taken up** leads on to motives...through
>Wertsch, you say that motives are not to be understood in biological or
>psychological terms, but in terms of
>sociohistorically situated practice. I have had difficulty with
>understanding (an adult L2) learner's actions during an activity based
>upon subject-oriented motives that contradict the actions during learning
>That we can view motives as more fundamentally derived from
>sociohistorical settings again (with creative licence) resonates with a
>Bakhtinian sense of intertextuality and dialogicality. Nancy posted the
>following yesterday, "texts exist prior to and after interactions, and...
>they can function differentially to help determine what the context
>includes and how participants can act/interact". I wonder how far we can
>take the recall and anticipation of previously experienced texts to be
>sociohistorical mediational tools? And from an enquirer's point of view,
>how might we go about understanding the inner or private speech in which
>those texts inhabit? I was taken by the nature of Leigh's appropriation of
>the 5 paragraph theme in this context.
>Is this a potential appropriation of the ZPD that steers too far from its
>original roles?
>Any thoughts appreciated.

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