Re: Motives and goals: Leont'ev and Axel

From: Bill Barowy (
Date: Thu Feb 05 2004 - 07:41:29 PST

Thanks Peter. I'm more familiar with Sarason's use of setting than of
Wertsch's and mistakenly thought you had drawn upon Sarason in your earlier
post. I think Leont'ev makes well the point that individual dimensions of
action will often not cohere unless put in the perspective of joint activity,
and your recounting of Wertsch echoes this point. But so you also note that
if what people are doing for any one duration is sought to be explained by a
monolithic system of activity, then there are problems. Consequently motive,
while an element that is essential for understanding joint effort, has an
internal structure. That internal structure does not necessarily cleave
along individual lines -- in the case you describe, student teaching makes
happen the tension between the "demonstration of one's competence as a
teacher" and "experimentation and learning". In the former mistakes and
problems are less valued than in the latter.

I think (thinking aloud), applying Engestrom's framework, some would model
this situation as two systems being acted out simultaneously. Doing so helps
to preserve a system of activity as a monolithic form, and provides a means
for understanding development through tertiary contradictions, between
systems of activity. And I think these two systems each span two
institutions: School and College. I'll have to think of this some more, but
I've run out of time to write.


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