RE: [xmca] Topics for December again

From: Ares, Nancy (Warner) (
Date: Tue Nov 29 2005 - 05:42:14 PST

Okay, a tentative weighing in...

I like the idea of examining practice that is grounded in Vygotskian theory
and focused on development -- theorizing with practice would be an
interesting turn for this list. I also very much appreciated Mary Bryson and
others' pointing us to other literatures/traditions (cf., cultural studies)
to enrich our understanding, or at least discussion of, subjectivity. Lois
Holzman's article on performative psychology sounds germane to examining
notions of development in organizations, as could work by Bakhtin and work
in funds of knowledge (Gonzalez, Moll), to name just a few.

All this to say that it may be informative to see how people complement
Vygotskian approaches to theory and practice to make sense of complexity.
Where does practice lead us theoretically? What are the decisions involved
in, as Gutierrez and Stone (2001) wrote, the principled use of multiple
theoretical perspectives in service of promoting development?


> First Message
> I'd like folks to learn about some Vygotskian-influenced programs I
> > collaborate with the All Stars' youth programs in the US and programs
> of
> > an organization in the former Yugoslavia called Zdravo da Ste (Hi
> Neighbor).
> > (They are connected through me.) I can tell you more if you like but
> here's
> > my question. Although the founders and their colleagues speak about
> their
> > work (in fact, I met the Zdravo da Ste folks at the Vygotsky-Piaget
> > conference in Generva in the 90s) they do not write academically (again,
> the
> > Yugos write but not in English). So the materials I have to present to
> > are not academic but more popular and/or my writing on their work. On
> the
> > one hand, I think this focus on practice might be refreshingly
> interesting
> > and challenging for the list; on the other hand, people might feel they
> do
> > not have enough "meat" to work with.
> > Any thoughts?
> > Oh, I also have videos...
> Second Message
> > Yes, it is all about the design of environments for development. What is
> > interesting to grapple with, perhaps, is the concept of development that
> each
> > organization works with and what the work looks like. I say this because
> each
> > has, independently, developed practices that they call activity theory
> based
> > or influenced but their understandings of activity theory are, excuse my
> > language here, radically dialectical and goal-less. Each also links
> > development with performance in everyday life. And, each is successful
> to the
> > extent that they are by virtue of being part of larger
> community-building
> > projects. For example, the former Yugoslavian organization works with
> > thousands of refugees and displaced persons of all ages. The youth work
> is
> > part of that. Ana is very familiar with the work by the way and her
> project
> > shares some of the features.
> >
> > However, I guess you could be right in seeing this kind of topic as more
> a
> > show and tell, which I too would love to see people taking on for a
> period of
> > time. Maybe I should postpone this until I invite the specific people in
> > Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia to come on to the list and participate. And
> maybe
> > I should ask the list if a show and tell is of any interest.
> >
> > On the other hand, I did think of suggesting people read an article of
> mine on
> > performative psychology and education (it raises some of the same issues
> as
> > the practical work above) but that seemed self-promoting! What do you
> think?
> > My article is theoretical. Maybe pairing it with an article by my
> colleague
> > Carrie Lobman from Rutgers on improvisation in early childhood (a
> qualitative
> > study) would work.
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