[xmca] Social situation, zpd and Franklin

From: Phil Chappell (philchappell@mac.com)
Date: Sat Jun 03 2006 - 05:15:47 PDT

Dear All,

I have just finished reading the Chaiklin article (at about 10 feet
above seal-level, bb), which I read about 18 months ago without the
focus-prompt given by Mike - "Did Franklin participate in a zoped?"
I'm always surprised at the new meanings I construct with texts when
I revisit them after some time!

So, Did Franklin participate in a zoped? Not an easy question! And I
don't have an answer, but...

As another thought to add to Althea's issues, Chaiklin (p. 47) talks
about a) the social situation of development ("the child's specific
but comprehensive relationship to its environment") and b) the
demands of the environment, which contradict the child's needs and
desires, as well as c) his/her current capabilities. Working to
overcome this contradiction in order to participate in a given
activity, the child "engages in different concrete tasks and specific
interactions, which can result in the formation of new functions, or
the enrichment of existing functions. The central new-formation
produced for a given age period is a consequence of the child's
interactions in the social situation of development with relevant
psychological functions that are not yet mature".

I contend, put crudely, that Franklin can regulate his relationship
with his environment in goal-directed activity that does not involve
collaboration at the art table and the wood bench (self-appointed
tasks where he concentrates intensely), as well as in the blocks
corner, but in none of these contexts has he demonstrated the
presence of the buds of development of ability to engage
independently or assisted in cooperative activity with his peers.
Franklin does not "yet have" the "democratic spirit" (p. 84 - Paley)
that his teacher sees as necessary in building blocks activity that
requires co-labouring.

Althea, while contemplating the task of seeing how Vygotsky defined
learning and development (a task that I am very interested in), has
the idea been raised of theorising whether or not there were maturing
psychological functions in the social situation of development, or
identifying Franklin's current state in relation to developing these
functions needed for a transition? This seems to me crucial in
Chaiklin's interpretation. If the answer is no, then do we say that
Franklin was not participating in a zoped?

Just some initial thoughts to add to Althea's as I have another read
of the chapter and also work back through parts of Collected Works
Vol. 4.

Looking forward to others' responses - even the oldtimers' :-)



P.S I copied the following from the chapter and somehow feel it is

The crucial assumption is that imitation is possible because a)
maturing psychological functions are still insufficient to support
independent performance but b) have developed sufficiently so that c)
a person can understand how to use the collaborative actions (e.g.
leading questions, demonstrations) of another. The presence of these
maturing functions is the reason the zone of proximal development
exists. (page 52)

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