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

From: Andy Blunden (
Date: Sun Jun 04 2006 - 21:31:01 PDT

OK, I have taken Mike's advice and read Seth's article, Paley's splendid
piece on Franklin and the blocks, and Althea's analysis, and need to see if
I can understand the differences at issue ...

The thing that troubled me a little in reading Seth's very good article was
what seemed to me an over-emphasis on the orchestration of pedagogy towards
specific achievement of stages in overall development. My understanding of
ZPD (which I think I learnt from Lois Holzman's "revolutionary scientist"
book which I read after "Thinking and Speaking") was simpler: a learner can
do something with help from another that they can't do alone. This is very
likely going to be performed in a play-situation or in some situation where
the child can be encouraged to go beyond themselves so to speak, a
situation where there is some motivation other than compliance with the
wishes of the teacher. This newly-acquired ability in a necessarily limited
and also arbitrarily chosen skill can then kind of "grow over" across a
broad range of tasks, providing a kind of internal scaffolding and thereby
facilitates a comprehensive development.

That was my understanding. I think development is a universal process which
can only exist in and through particulars. You can't have (universal)
development other than by and through (particular) learning. It is the
learning where a child surprisingly goes 'beyond themselves' which has that
special importance. I found the over-emphasis on levels and mental age
etc., a little troubling, though of course I can see how essential these
concepts are for planning by teachers and administrators.

Don't know if that helps at all.


At 09:21 AM 2/06/2006 -0700, you wrote:
>In the hopes that this message will not generate spam, I want to comment
>on bill's 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 critical 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 useful.
>(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 discussion with general comments about zopeds, development,
>scaffolding, whatever. I do this myself at times, so I understand the
>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 triangle is place next to small green triangle,
>and then small green square is added, then 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
>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 without 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
>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.

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