Re: [xmca] Social situation, zpd and Franklin

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Mon Jun 05 2006 - 08:00:32 PDT

David-- It will take some time to be able to come to grips with all that you
written here.

I believe it necessary to go back to your article and reconstruct the
argument there
so that we don't simply end up arguing about the color of the fish being
thrown around.
I am tied up teaching today, away tomorrow, but hope to get back to this

I confess that I am uncertain whether or not we have made any progress at
on the question of whether, from a vygotskian perspective (as interpreted by
Chaiklin) the changes in Franklin's behavior constitute a zone of proximal
development or not.

On 6/5/06, David H Kirshner <> wrote:
> Mike, thanks for your extended reply to my post. I'll try to summarize and
> then respond to each of the concerns/questions you raise.
> 1. What's wrong with psychological theories, such as Vygotsky's, that are
> dialectical in nature, that attempt to treat together "as two sides of a
> single coin" aspects of learning that are metaphorically distinct.
> As psychological theories, there is nothing wrong such attempts. However,
> the crossdisciplinary approach I am developing distinguishes between
> psychological theorizing and educational theorizing in a new way. The
> basic
> idea of crossdisciplinarity is that there are certain culturally given
> metaphorically distinct interpretations of learning that constitute our
> cultural commonsense about learning and that circumscribe our educational
> motives for student learning: Learning as habituation; learning as
> (conceptual) construction; and learning as enculturation. These relate,
> broadly, to the educational interests in teaching skills, concepts, and
> dispositions, respectively. From here, education and psychology part ways.
> Psychology, as a preparadigmatic science, has as its primary raison d'etre
> the eventual forging of a paradigmatic consensus. There are some branches
> of psychology, like behaviorism (informed by learning as habituation) and
> developmental psychology (informed by learning as construction), that tend
> to be unifocal in their metaphorical interpretation of learning. These
> approaches work outward from locally coherent intuitions within their
> "home" metaphor to try to subsume the other metaphors (e.g., the attempt
> by
> behaviorists in the middle of the last century to subsume concepts in the
> form of linguistically mediated behavior). Other approaches within
> psychology like sociocultural theory, situated cognition theory, and
> social
> constructivism are integrative in that they attempt to span more than one
> metaphorical interpretation of learning. In a sense, the challenge for
> these integrative theories is the inverse of their unifocal counterparts.
> They already encompass broad concerns of the field. Their challenge is to
> coherently articulate principles of learning that span metaphors. Each of
> these approaches (unifocal or integrative) is a legitimate effort toward
> the historically inscribed imperative of achieving a paradigmatic
> consensus
> for psychology.
> What crossdisciplinarity does is to forge a new relationship between
> psychology and education. In the current hierarchy of disciplines,
> education is a client discipline to psychology, uncritically adopting the
> perspectives of the psychologists within the various schools. In the past
> behaviorism was the dominant psychological paradigm, and educators bought
> the claim that behaviorism could account for learning overall. In the
> current era, the integrative theories hold considerable sway with
> pedagogical theorists despite the fact that the integrative insights are a
> research agenda, not an established accomplishment. (My point in the last
> posting in contrasting the TRANSFORMATION of conceptual structures with
> the
> DISCONTINUITY of modes of participation was to highlight the enormous
> challenges that remain in framing a coherent and comprehensible
> synthesis.)
> The crossdisciplinary approach is the hard-nosed recognition by educators
> that, yes, psychology does have some local insights to share with us about
> how people learn skills, concepts, and dispositions, but there is no grand
> synthesis. So crossdisciplinarity abandons as unfeasible the current
> interest in articulating notions of "good teaching" that are general,
> seeking, instead to formulate independent accounts of good teaching
> indexed
> to the separate notions of learning. For pedagogical principles that
> explicate how teaching supports learning depend on having a notion of
> learning that is theoretically coherent.
> 2. How does Vygotsky's notion of imitation come in for special criticism,
> given a crossdisciplinary viewpoint?
> Imitation, in its usual sense, already relates to learning as habituation
> (refinement of skills through repetitive practice) and to learning as
> enculturation (through emulation of culturally more central participants).
> Vygotsky commandeers the construct of imitation to load it down, also,
> with
> some kind of conceptual baggage: "[For Vygotsky] imitation presupposes
> some
> understanding of the structural relations in a problem that is being
> solved" (Chaiklin, 2003, p. 51). Given these triple affordances, it's not
> surprising that Vygotsky would want to make imitation central to his model
> of learning/development in a ZPD. Unfortunately, the enculturational
> interest is sadly underrepresented by a notion of imitation (with its
> attendant implication of volunteerism), to the extent that the ZPD itself
> is much diminished as a resource for thinking about instruction.
> As a dutiful crossdisciplinarian, I set out to examine the metaphor of
> enculturation independently, noting that (unlike the other metaphors) it
> really hasn't received unifocal attention in any psychological school. My
> own examination suggests there are two separate and distinct processes
> typically associated with enculturation. One is a kind of cultural
> immersion, in which, somehow, the dispositional traits of a community are
> adopted without conscious intent by the neophyte. My paradigm example is
> proxemic dispositions ("personal space") which children adopt in the
> context of a national culture without conscious intent, or even notice.
> (But proxemic dispositions do vary from one national culture to the next.)
> The second process is related to acculturation in which an individual
> self-selects into a subculture by consciously emulating dispositional
> traits that are distinctive to that subculture. But the more basic of
> these
> two processes is the first, as conscious strategies of acculturation
> always
> are embedded in an enculturationist process (one can only consciously
> emulate a limited number of cultural traits).
> What I've found is that pedagogically, these two processes subserve
> distinct pedagogical methods for promoting enculturational learning in the
> classroom: Enculturationist teaching relates to (surreptitiously) growing
> target dispositional traits into the classroom microculture;
> Acculturationist teaching relates to developing subculture identity (I'm
> attaching a brief 2004 paper that explores these issues). Taking imitation
> as central to the ZPD, tends to conflate these two pedagogical approaches,
> and to diminish the first.
> 3. Does this shed any light on Franklin's learning to play nice with the
> other kids? ("Franklin cannot remember 5 seconds after he has driven his
> friends from the block corner what he has
> done. ... NOW he can remember!!")
> From a crossdisciplinary perspective, I see the Franklin episode as
> related
> to enculturational learning. Franklin has adopted a new form of
> participation within the context of a cultural milieu. The emphasis on
> remembering and understanding in Paley's account and in Mike's question
> seem to me to be a red herring--the sort that can swim out too easily from
> an integrative perspective on learning. What seems to be going on in the
> episode is that Franklin's identity undergoes some sort of transformation.
> He previously had been interested in cultivating an identity as an
> "expert." Within that identity construction, he focussed on certain
> aspects
> of his behavior and performance, and had a particular way of evaluating
> the
> responses of others (let's face it, experts aren't always that popular).
> It's hard to analyze exactly what happened to change his identity
> structure
> without more data than is provided in Paley's report--several
> possibilities
> come to mind. For instance, the teacher talking about him publicly in the
> 3rd person may have embarrassed/punished him, and suggested that being an
> expert can carry a steep price. Or seeing the skillful way in which his
> teacher imitated him, might have intrigued him into thinking that being a
> famous actor might be a more rewarding identity to pursue. In any event,
> changes in remembering and understanding, which certainly did transpire
> within the episode, seem to be only artifactual to the dynamic change in
> social positioning and identity that this episode is really about.
> David
> (See attached file: PMENA04.pdf)
> "Mike Cole"
> <lchcmike who-is-at gmail.c To: "eXtended Mind,
> Culture, Activity"
> om> <>
> Sent by: cc: (bcc: David H
> Kirshner/dkirsh/LSU)
> xmca-bounces who-is-at webe Subject: Re: [xmca] Social
> situation, zpd and Franklin
> 06/04/2006 02:09
> PM
> Please respond to
> mcole; Please
> respond to
> "eXtended Mind,
> Culture,
> Activity"
> You introduce a lot of important issues into the discussion, David.
> Clearly
> everyone should
> go back to your paper if we are not engage them properly. At the same
> time,
> I am struggling
> with the previously existing poliphony of voices concerning learnng and
> development and the
> question of whether and if so when it makes sense to believe that play can
> create a zone of
> proximal development (where issues of learning and development bring
> another
> round of difficulties).
> When you write: Vygotsky (and sociocultural theory more generally) as
> struggling between
> two basic metaphorical interpretations.... I come away wondering what you
> mean about struggling
> between. Here, an echo of Lois' comment yesterday, I have always thought
> of
> the processes under
> discussion as two sides of a single coin in dialectical relationship to
> each
> other. On the one hand, the
> active subject must operate on the world using "auxiliary means" by means
> of
> which the problematic
> situation is transformed and on the other hand must appropriate those
> means
> in the act of transformaion.
> Do transformation and discontinuity stand in opposition to each other in
> some way as you seem to imply below?
> The construction metaphor, most often
> associated with Piaget-inspired psychological constructivism (e.g., von
> Glasersfeld), sees cognitive structures as developing and maturing through
> a TRANSFORMATIVE process. The enculturational metaphor, reflected in, say,
> Leont'ev's notion of appropriation, sees a DISCONTINUITY between prior
> structures and new ones (as Newman, Griffin, & Cole pointed out in The
> Construction Zone).
> I am unclear here.
> The questions you raise about LSV's use of imitation also caught my
> attention. It has taken me a very long time to get at all interested in
> the
> issue of imitation, but it is currently one of THE hot topics in research
> on
> the nature and presence of culture in chimpanzee social groups (culture is
> defined in this literature as presence of behavioral patterns across
> generations achieved by a mechanism of social learning-- but what is that
> mechanism, and here is where imitation comes in. The following indicates
> the
> distinctions currently in fashion:
> This brings us to the question of how cognition and culture are related
> among non-human primates.
> Attempts to answer this question have focused on the question of the
> cognitive mechanisms of social learning. The general answer given is that
> social learning requires some form of mimesis broadly interpreted as a
> process in which the behavior of one individual comes to be like another
> through some form of contact. But this broad an understanding of mimesis
> is
> little more than restating what one means by a social tradition, since
> many
> different processes can lead to behavioral conformity. Consequently, the
> task of further specifying the processes of mimesis has garnered the bulk
> of
> scholarly attention (Byrne, 2002; Metzoff & Prinz, 2002; Tomasello &
> Rakoczy, 2003; Valsiner, 2000; Whitten, 2000).
> At the most elementary level, groups of the same species living in
> different
> locales may behave differently from each other, but in conformity with
> each
> other, because of differences in their local ecology. Each animal may be
> discovering the solution for itself, by this account.
> In addition, situations may arise when members of a group are attracted to
> the location of conspecifics and, on their own, learn the behaviors that
> others have learned in the same circumstances. For example, they may learn
> that grubs are located in the area, and learn to find the grubs and eat
> them, without any special orientation to the behavior of others. This
> source
> of social learning is termed stimulus* enhancement*.
> A slightly more complex form of social influence is referred to as
> *emulation
> learning*, which occurs when, for instance, an infant chimpanzee observes
> its mother turn over a log and sees that there are grubs under the log.
> However, in such cases, the infant is not focused on the goal-directed
> intentions (strategies) of the mother, but the infant learns something
> about
> objects in the environment and can then, itself, learn about attaining
> such
> objects.
> The most complex (and most controversial) claims about the source of
> acquiring social traditions in non-human primates are *imitation*, when
> the
> infant attempts to copy the goal-directed strategies of the mother. There
> is
> as yet no consensus on whether non-human primates raised in the wild
> engage
> in this form of mimesis (Byrne, 2002).
> Sorry about the wobbly font.
> LSV appears to go further to link imitation to conceptual understanding
> that
> will support success in
> copying goal directed actions. I cannot imitate a calculus teacher
> teaching
> calculus. My grand daughter
> stuggles to "follow directions" in a closely constrained effort to work
> through an elementary
> algebra problem.... she tries to "imitate" the sequence of actions, she
> understands some of the
> principles required, but not enough to be able to do it on her own. Over
> succeeding sessions, with
> varied examples, the range of problems she can solve by "imitating" what I
> am doing expands and the amount of filling in I have to do decreases. If
> she
> continues to improve, it will not be long before our roles are reversed.
> Zoped? Imitation?
> Franklin cannot remember 5 seconds after he has driven his friends from
> the
> block corner what he has
> done. He hotly denies Vivian's verbal description. She acts it out. NOW he
> can remember!! Not only
> can he remember, he can play Franklin being a social cooperative child in
> the block corner" Imitation?
> Zoped?
> mike
> On 6/4/06, David H Kirshner <> wrote:
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > What stands out most sharply for me in Chaiklin's summary of Vygotsky's
> > ZPD
> > is the highly specialized and non-intuitive notion of imitation that
> > grounds Vygotsky's approach to learning/development:
> >
> > "Imitation ... is not a mindless copying of actions .... Rather Vygotsky
> > wants to break from a copying view to give a new meaning to imitation --
> > reflecting a new theoretical position -- in which imitation presupposes
> > some understanding of the structural relations in a problem that is
> being
> > solved" (p. 51).
> >
> > From my "crossdisciplinary" perspective (which I've discussed before
> > here--my 2002 paper is still in the papers archives for XMCA), I see
> > Vygotsky (and sociocultural theory more generally) as struggling between
> > two basic metaphorical interpretations of learning: (conceptual)
> > construction and enculturation. The construction metaphor, most often
> > associated with Piaget-inspired psychological constructivism (e.g., von
> > Glasersfeld), sees cognitive structures as developing and maturing
> through
> > a TRANSFORMATIVE process. The enculturational metaphor, reflected in,
> say,
> > Leont'ev's notion of appropriation, sees a DISCONTINUITY between prior
> > structures and new ones (as Newman, Griffin, & Cole pointed out in The
> > Construction Zone). One comes to appropriate new modes of participation
> by
> > adopting those practices anew rather like donning a new coat. Vygotsky's
> > notion of imitation seems to reflect a desire to capture both of these
> > senses of learning within a single theorization. By opting for the term
> > "imitation" Vygotsky buys into its traditional sense of mindless
> > coparticipation, even as he attempts to twist the meaning to include
> > conceptual structures that come to be transformed. The problem is that
> > these metaphorical interpretations are "incommensurable" with one
> another
> > (see Sfard's, 1998, discussion of "acquisition" and "participation"
> > metaphors), and hence not subject to successful integration.
> >
> > I see this basic problem with sociocultural theory as filtering down
> into
> > incoherent or impotent guidance for educational practice. Consider the
> key
> > notion of collaboration, as discussed in Chaiklin's chapter:
> >
> > "Vygotsky often used the term collaboration in his discussion about
> > assessing the zone of proximal development. The term should not be
> > understood as a joint, coordinated effort to move forward, in which the
> > more expert partner is always providing support at the moments when
> > maturing functions are inadequate. Rather it appears that this term is
> > being used to refer to any situation in which a child is being offered
> > some
> > interaction with another person that is related to a problem to be
> solved"
> > (p. 54).
> >
> > As I discuss in my 2002 paper, from a constructivist perspective
> > supporting
> > students' conceptual construction implies the need to "read" the
> students'
> > current conceptual configuration and to develop tasks and engagements
> that
> > are coordinated with the limitations of the current conceptual
> structures
> > (as a way to promote transformation of those structures). But, despite
> his
> > interest in fostering conceptual restructuring, Vygotsky wants to hang
> on
> > to a mode of collaboration in which coparticipation, itself, is
> > sufficient--a mode of engagement characteristic of the enculturationist
> > pedagogical approach (Kirshner, 2002). My argument in the 2002 paper is
> > that principled pedagogical methods only can be articulated relative to
> a
> > single metaphorical interpretation of learning. As I see it, this is why
> > "Vygotsky does not seem to have any systematic principles, methods, or
> > techniques that should guide how collaboration should be conducted by a
> > person who is assessing a zone of proximal development" (Chaiklin, 2003,
> > p.
> > 54).
> >
> > David Kirshner
> >
> >
> > Kirshner, D. (2002). Untangling teachers' diverse aspirations for
> student
> > learning: A crossdisciplinary strategy for relating psychological theory
> > to
> > pedagogical practice. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 33
> > (1), 46-58.
> >
> > Sfard, A. (1998). On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of
> > choosing
> > just one. Educational Researcher, 27(2), 4-13.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Phil Chappell
> > <philchappell who-is-at mac To:
> >
> > .com> cc: (bcc: David H
> > Kirshner/dkirsh/LSU)
> > Sent by: Subject: [xmca] Social
> > situation, zpd and Franklin
> > xmca-bounces who-is-at webe
> >
> >
> >
> > 06/03/2006 07:15
> > AM
> > Please respond to
> > "eXtended Mind,
> > Culture,
> > Activity"
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > 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' :-)
> >
> > Cheers,
> >
> > Phil
> >
> > P.S I copied the following from the chapter and somehow feel it is
> > relevant:
> >
> >
> > 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)
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Sep 05 2006 - 08:11:24 PDT