Re: ZPD/Chaiklin and Vygotsky/Bakhtin

From: N*** (
Date: Sat Jan 17 2004 - 07:22:36 PST

My take, Seth is arguing for a "classical" (Vygotsky) approach to the ZPD. To be honest I see so much Americanization in the concept that it has lost its original meaning. I think this is because what is emphasized in the classical view are issues and concepts that have not interested American scholars.
It certainly isn't "zone of closest / future learning" as is conceptualized in Tharp and Galimore. Vygotsky chose development for good reason. In childhood it was very much connected to periodization and activity as outlined by El'konin.
Other examples may include Revolutionary Scientist, where activity has a developmental function. I am thinking about drama, with an emphasis on non-violence, being used with inner city children whose life was dominated by violence. Another example was the DC Conservation Core (Now w/ Bill Moyers) who through participation in that activity were able to restructure their "natural" inclination toward violent problem solving. One participant, who was a previous gang banger, crack dealer etc, upon being confronted in a threatening way by another core member responded in a totally alien, unnatural way - non-violently. Not all experience / activity is developmental.

Phil Chappell <> wrote:

On Jan 17, 2004, at 6:33 AM, N*** wrote:

> I have to admit I'd be at a lost to find something
> these day that isn't a ZPD.

If I get your meaning in that statement, I'd say that is one of the
main issues that we are facing as the ZPD gathers greater currency in
more and more learning environments. What Chaiklin says to me is that a
common problem is people using an a-theoretical and a-historical
approach to the ZPD in learning situations that gives the
phenomena/metaphor a more natural existence, i.e that the ZPD arises in
situ - in that specific learning environment, regardless of the
cultural and historical (or temporally divergent) planes (that's where
I was seeking a link with Bakhtin's theories).[I read an article
recently that I can't locate that discussed zones of distal
development]. I agree, ZPDed to death; therefore shouldn't scholars be
looking at misappropriations of the concept as well as contemporary
versions of it if they are basing their worldviews on or partly on
Vygotsky's cultural-historical approach? Then we can continue to
develop metaphors for the interventions that we make, such as Tharp and
Gallimore's "assisted performance".

A quick vignette:

I was in beautiful Shizuoka a month ago, with awesome vistas of Mount
Fuji (irrelevant background). One presentation was focused on how to
encourage extended dialogue amongst Japanese learners of English. The
framework was scaffolding and the ZPD. The definition of scaffolding
came from a regular dictionary, with building terms removed and
language and learning terms inserted. The definition of the ZPD was
something like, "Times when you help the learner speak, read or write
better in class".

Nate Schmolze
Vygotsky Project:
Email: nateatdotinfo

The flag is only a symbol of the fact that man is still a herd animal.

Albert Einstein

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