Re: Leont'ev-Vygotsky controversy

From: Bill Barowy (
Date: Wed Feb 18 2004 - 04:35:42 PST

On Tuesday 17 February 2004 11:07 pm, Ana Marjanovic-Shane also wrote:

> ... But, in fact, language is not a finished and ready made
> artifact, but [in using it, one engages in] a dynamic system of activity.

My mod in brackets. Consider speaking a language. This might fit Engestrom's
extended triangle better than meaning making -- the latter being more
idiosyncratic than the former. Then "rules" are the rules of the language --
grammar, phonetics, etc. Div of labor maps to such things as turn-taking,
i.e. IR(E) blocks, with (in education) a lecture having a different Div Labor
than Teacher-led discussion, and different also from inquiry discourse.
Artifacts include ephemeral utterances. Any spoken language has cultural and
historical elements -- even for example Northestern and Southeastern US
accents have their own developmental paths.

There are issues in thinking this way. Subjects end up in participating
simultaneously in more than one activity, for example when one says one thing
and does another -- but then lies and scams can be considered tertiary
contradictions. ONe encounters huge contradictions trying to introduce
inquiry forms into a traditionally IRE classroom.

Anyway, just an early morning raw reaction. "activity" is a useful and often
necessary concept for understanding what people do, and there is amazing
explanatory power to the parsing Engestrom has made. But then I'm sure
you're not advocating raising extended triangles above question.


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