Gredler & Shields vs. Gutierrez & Lemke

From: Bill Barowy (
Date: Fri Apr 23 2004 - 12:11:35 PDT

I've rarely been able to read only one text at a time, unless it was something
non-academic as fiction, biography, etc... So this late, late response to
Kris' article is one in which i have printed and online texts surrounding me
and I'm doing this intertextual thing, actually trying to read between the

The texts are of two genre's, book and research article, and this makes a
difference because Jay Lemke's *Talking Science*, being a book, is less
limited by space, and as a bound unit goes into more detail than Kris
Gutierrez' *Script, counterscript...*. This is not a criticism of either,
although it is a curiously coincidental and proportion reflection of the
length of their respective posts to xmca! Both authors focus on speech for
"effective classroom practice" (Kris, p 467) -- and most importantly note
the roles of BOTH teachers and students in making this practice happen. Both
note the enduring patterns of interaction, called 'activity structures" (Jay)
and 'scripts' (Kris). Both see the struggle between established cultural
practice, "reading the Los Angeles Times every morning" (Kris); "talking
science" (Jay), with their accompanied semiotic systems, and the personal and
social semiotics of the students. Both authors invoke heteroglossia in
describing these differences, and both advocate breaking durable patterns of
interaction i.e. "making trouble" (Jay, p210), creating a "disruptive form
of underlife" (kris, p467).

Neither Kris nor Jay address the "zone of proximal development", which
features highly in the article by Gredler & Shields. Both Jay and Kris
effectively draw upon units of analysis that extend beyond the individual,
and which, if we are to believe the books "Thought and Language" (TL) and
"Mind in Society" (MS) would make theoretical connections between the zone of
proximal development and heteroglossia or perhaps more generally dialogism.
Yet, Gredler &Shields, who reference neither TL nor MS (substantively) insist
'Vygotsky did not include the assistance of another in his definition of
ZPD' (p. 22), and so they, it would seem, would preclude constructive
integration of the the work of Bakhtin and Vygotsky (as well as Dewey and
Vygotsky). Their paper is strangly reminiscent of the "dominant script" that
Kris writes about, adapted here to refer to the competitive and exclusive
literary actions one finds in high profile journals as the educational
researcher. Most noteworthy is the form of the title which constructs others
as ignorant (Silencing those without cultural knowledge?), the monologic
exclusion of all other relevant works to the attack on Glassman's paper, i.e.
MS, TL, etc., pulling from selected quotes to bolster claims without
consideration of the greater theoretical context in which the quote rests
(for example not once were the transformations from interpsychological to
intrapsychological discussed, which might have brought in the role of
adults/others in the zoped).

Mind you, this is not so much a criticism of Gredler & Shields and their
article as much as it is of the genre in which they write. Although, when I
look at Gredler's listed publications, she has established a track-record of
locating and attacking "misperceptions". Even higher educational academics
fall into enacting the patterns of cultural practice, and it takes a bit of
trouble making and disruption to break out of the status quo. I think
Glassman does some creative breaking out and this could be why Gredler &
Shields attack, arguably acting to sustain the staus quo. Glassman makes
inferences, agreed, that are not as close to the words of Vygotsky as Gredler
& Shields would like. Glassman's work seems to be more abductive -- looking
at the comparison and contrasts in a plausible manner between Vygosky and
Dewey. It is a form of constructive integration, an attempt to form a "third
space" between Deweyan and Vygotskian scholars.

Victor has posted on the Glassman-Gredler & Shields debate as a dialectical
process, and at one level I can agree. Yet, there has to be something of
finer texture in social change than just the synthesis of opposing poles.


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