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RE: Culture as dialogic relation
I want to share my thoughts and reflection on Galperin's work. I was not
lucky to learn from Galperin but I read his work and what was probably more
important to learn from his students and colleagues about Galperin's work.
In his lectures about developmental psychology in Moscow State University,
Davydov spent some time discussing Galperin's work.
Anyway, in my view, Galperin worked within an approach that can be described
as a developmental-educational or forming-educational. First and foremost,
Galperin was interested in psychological development: how higher
psychological functions (first of all cognitive) are formed and how to form
them -- which for Galperin was more or less the same question. Galperin came
from a Marxist tradition according to which in order to understand a
phenomenon means to build and transform the phenomenon. Vygotsky belonged to
this tradition, of course.
Mike is right evoking Seth Chaiklin's point about Vygotsky-Galperin-Davydov
(the list is not exhaustive, of course) tradition as being extremely
interested in development. But what was "development" for Galperin? My
reading Galperin suggests that it was qualitative changes in child's
thinking that becomes more powerful. He used examples of Piaget's
experiments on conservation to illustrate cognitive developmental as he
understood it. However, Galperin criticized Piaget for using a
non-developmental approach in studying development. After Vygotsky, Galperin
believed that "forming experiment" is the appropriate methodology for
developmental psychology. To understand means change or, better to say, to
develop. That is why instruction and FORM-al education has to become a (if
not THE) major method for developmental psychology.
Galperin's developmental-educational approach can be summarized as the
following. First, abstract important developmental phases from "naturally
occurring/unfolding development". Second, based on this abstraction, design
phases of instruction. Third, test if these instructional phases form the
same psychological outcomes as "naturally occurring development". Based on
his philosophical and psychological speculations and probably non-systematic
observations (I never read or heard about Galperin's systematic empirical
research of "naturally occurring development"), he developed his phases (or
stages) of forming higher mental functions in children. He devoted a lot of
his (and his students') research efforts to test and to tune-up these
Now, what do *I* think about Galperin's developmental-educational approach?
I like the idea of learning from "naturally occurring developmental" (or
from informal settings) and use this learning for design of formal
instruction. I wish Galperin did empirical work on "naturally occurring
development" as processes beyond Piaget. However, my biggest problem with
Galperin (and majority of developmental psychologists) is about, what
Russian theoretician of theater Stanislavsky's called, his super-task. The
super-task for Galperin seemed to learn how to form adults from children
through instruction -- reproduction of culture. Of course, reproduction of
culture is a very important aspect but it is limited one. There are other
important aspects like production of culture, being in the world, and so on.
For Galperin, the endpoint of development is known (adults like him:
middle-class, educated, rational, text- and inner-oriented,
decontextualized) and the startpoint of development is known (deficient
thinking of children). According Galperin, problem for psychology (and
education) seemed to discover HOW to move from the known startpoint to the
known endpoint. Please notice that the startpoint -- children's thinking --
is often understood in relationship with adult thinking hence negatively
(cf., Piaget's label of "non-conservers"). I call this tendency in
developmental psychology as "adultocentrism".
In my view, Galperin's external-internal dualism is rooted in his
adultocentric super-task of forming particular adults from children. As
Dewey pointed out dualism involves discontinuity. In Galperine's case, it is
a discontinuity between the adult and the child. I do not think that
reference to dialects can ever help to bridge this discontinuity. For me the
biggest problem with Galperin's dualism is pragmatic and not even conceptual
(although it is there as well).
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mike Cole [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Wednesday, July 07, 2004 4:26 PM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: Culture as dialogic relation
> Well, Eugene, for one, as you know, I as an American lack duchovnost'
> is certainly related to the absence of a dusha. As we Americans sometimes
> say, it comes with the territory! A real :-))-er.
> My message was polysemic and your comment was only part of it, and it took
> three days to get posted, so recapturing the whole sequence is a little
> But I think the point of our discussion was about whether and if so how
> Galperin had overcome the inside/outside dualism but could still talk
> interlanization and subjects introspecting. In my fevered mind I linked
> these discussions to relational/process notions of culture.
> Lets see what others make of the discussion, if anything, and then try
> to build back to the initial topic. Perhaps just another misunderstanding
> that masqueraded as a difference of opinion.