Re: [xmca] bruner, chaiklin, and the word

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Fri Jun 02 2006 - 09:21:55 PDT

In the hopes that this message will not generate spam, I want to comment on
references to maintaining direction and my putative frustration.

XMCA discourse is off all kinds, as everyone who reads and writes here
knows. Over the years there has been a clear pattern of more
experienced/active members of the community drifting off into just reading,
or just receiving, or just not being attached any more. That dynamic is
almost certainly the result of changing priorities and many other factors,
one of which is that, as phil or someone recently noticed, some discussions
re-cycle so that for oldtimers it is difficult to move to new ground wihtout
expending a lot of effort.

When a topic comes up, such as the recent generation of interest in
discussing development, learning, zopeds and scaffolding, I try to make some
key texts available
to allow us to "triangulate" on a common object -- to ground the discussion
at least
a little.

In the current case, there was expressed interest in Seth Chaiklin's article
of US interpretations of the notion of zoped (seth is not alone in this
regard). The issues he raises are, in my opinion, important for people who
use Vygotksy to think with to address. So, the set of articles on the xmca
web page was gathered and people were asked to propose examples they found

(This example is only one of many which I use because it is topical at
present -- all
cases of discussion of MCA articles have the same properties).

bb's comment about guiding the discussion I interpret to mean that I am
trying to
resist discussions where people have not read the key texts (at the moment,
Chaiklin and Paley, but it could come to include others) and enter the
with general comments about zopeds, development, scaffolding, whatever. I do
this myself at times, so I understand the temptation.

Yet it has a downside. It tends to create a kind of concept formation
process akin
to "chaining" in the Vygotsky-Sakharov blocks experiment. Large green
is place next to small green triangle, and then small green square is added,
small blue triangle, then large red triangle, etc.............. That is, a
single attribute
of a complex whole is focused on and exemplars wander across the landscape
of possibilities.

This kind of activity can often be very interesting and open new ideas to
us, but in the
case of zoped, scaffolding, learning, development, we have a LOT of
experience as
a virtual community in working with the ideas. And Seth's article is quite
explicit and
extensive and pointed in its critique. That critique cannot be addressed
reading the article.

As a way to further focus the issue, I picked out my favorite example of a
zoped in
play, Franklin in the blocks. I believe that it does, in fact, illustratre a
case of development. But it does NOT, as Althea noted, fulfill a key
requirement that Seth
claims is central LSV's notion of development.

So there is a contradiction. Either LSV is wrong, or Seth is wrong, of the
example of
Franklin is not an example of a zoped.

I think it mattters. But perhaps I am wrong about that.

Scaffolding vs zoped is also an important and related concept. I do not
like the scaffolding metaphor but find it useful at times. My reasons for
not liking
it (but sometimes using it!) can be found in prior writing about this
subject on xmca
by googling or in an article by Griffin & Cole from 1984. I did not put up
that article
seeking instead to stay within the zoped/learning/development frame that I
thought was
our begining point.

Lets see where, if anywhere, this discussion goes in the next week. And
then, when
it is appropiate, I plan to move on to discussion that Kevin started earlier
with a video
example of interaction to help us interpret what he writes about.

Off to see the Wizard.

On 6/1/06, bb <> wrote:
> Thanks Phil, for that table, with it's high level of specificity! It
> certainly seems relevant to the moment as Mike struggles to *maintain the
> direction* of this conversation, perhaps controling his own
> *frustration*. I guess what we need is more recruitment!
> Anyway, I've finally managed to print the reading in a form that will be
> easy to read on the flight tomorrow.
> _______________________________________________
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