On Jan 19, 2004, at 9:53 AM, Jay Lemke wrote:
> Learning in the zpd is not individual discrete events. It is a
> dynamic, a developmental process, over several timescales, including
> the longer ones on which we can compare current and past efforts at
> imitation or appropriation, other people's reactions to them, etc.
> So I especially liked the comment (Phil's? Eugene's?) that in the zpd,
> we don't learn discrete, isolated content or skills as such. We learn
> about the learning-and-teaching process, about the activity context of
> the zpd itself, about the social relations and norms within it, and so
> about various more general aspects of the society and culture that
> frames it. We learn about ourselves, about the other/teacher, about
> our changing relationship. The unit of learning is something really
> rather big, even if we learn only gradually to see more and more of
> it, we are still learning in and about all of it at all times. We are
> learning something like the Whole Process, including the focal content
> or skill, but also including so much more.
A sober, not so sober and late reply to Jay's remarks. Although I have
been teaching English as another language for quite some years now,
I've only recently begun to acknowledge individual learners' motives in
learning activities. The "neat" motives that A.N. Leontiev posits can't
really be applied in the fashion that many favour. Socioculturally
derived motives for learning another language, such as to gain greater
access to future employment opportunities, can be a circular analysis
that may misdirect the teacher and learner. A learner may come to a
place for language learning with the socially-derived motive of
improving her/his prospects of promotion in the local workplace.
However, it may be revealed that the learner, in fact, had, or has
developed "private motives" in the language class that reflect more
immediate needs. In my experience, this reflects more
interpersonal/affective influences on choice of social activity.
The learner to whom we have ascribed learning motives of the first kind
outlined above may, in fact, be motivated less by getting ahead in the
workplace or understanding more about her/himself, and more by
developing interpersonal relationships irrespective of the purpose of
each lesson or learning activity. The "officeworker" who we assume
seeks greater competence in another language in order to get a
better-paid job may, in fact, be looking for a way to relax before
going home to the more formal and socially restrictive family
environment. The night market vendor who we assume needs greater
competence in a language to sell more goods to tourists may have found
a venue for socialising with people of similar age and diverse
interests. Interwoven contexts of situation make any commentary
difficult. The classroom researcher who links socioculturally derived
motives to behaviour and action in classroom activity may be missing
the moment-by-moment and day by day motives of the learner(s). What
does this mean when we are commenting on zones of proximal development,
whether or not the assistance is provided by the teacher or a peer?
These thoughts were scribbled down on a flight back from a second
language learning conference in sunny Khon Kaen, northeastern Thailand.
Back to my Stolichnaya.
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