RE: [xmca] Did Franklin Participate in a Zoped?

From: Tony Whitson (twhitson@UDel.Edu)
Date: Mon Jun 05 2006 - 16:15:35 PDT

my last line should be

the issue might be less a matter of reaching a "yes" or "no" verdict on
the zoped question.

although there's something I like about the "yes or know" dichotomy.

On Mon, 5 Jun 2006, Tony Whitson wrote:

> On 6/5/06, bb <> wrote:
>> The short answer is "No". . . . . > The
>> Paula and Randy in me want to vote yes, but Simon Says "No".
>> bb
> I wonder if there might not be a problem here with trying to treat this as a
> dichotomous yes/no question.
> Consider an infant who does not yet know words, much less writing, whose
> mother reads with the child on her lap, turning pages in the picture book
> and vocalizing text.
> In the ordinary sense we might see the infant "imitating" the mother's
> activity - turning pages, pointing at the pages, babbling, etc.
> We might say that this fails the criteria for imitation to qualify for zpd
> because the infant lacks understanding. But is the infant totally devoid of
> understanding? Does that not depend on how understanding itself is to be
> understood?
> Language acquisition folks might say that the infant is indeed developing
> the rudimentary pragmatics (vs. syntactics & semantics) of reading. If so,
> could it be possible to formulate an account of some kind of "understanding"
> that is essential for this developmentally significant activity?
> If so, the issue might be less a matter of reaching a "yes" or "know"
> verdict of the zoped question. Instead, we might consider variation in the
> kinds and forms of understanding that might be relevant.
> What do you think?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Mike Cole
> Sent: Monday, June 05, 2006 5:24 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Did Franklin Participate in a Zoped?
> Great analysis bb. I agree. It cannot be a zoped by the criteria listed.
> So now another, really key question.
> Is there any example, anywhere in any known literature to support the idea
> that
> play can create a zone of proximal development? Certainly the example of
> two
> sisters playing sister that Vygotsky gives fails the current test. Using
> McCarthy
> developmental norms is not play.
> Or, perhaps, is there something wrong with the specification of criteria? In
> our chapter
> on early childhood (In the Development of Children) Sheila and I refer to
> "Islands of competence," the idea that in some forms of activity little
> children display new forms of development that will appear more broadly
> later. Wrong headed, right? If it doesn't appear everywhere, it doesn't
> count. If it is not willful, it doesn't count, and so on. A neoformation is
> formed everywhere at once? The social situation of development
> applies equally at home, at school, in the market, at play, .............
> Nothing is activity contingent.
> And I am certainly misunderstaning a lot here even before I get to the
> complexities that David raises from what his theoretical/methodological
> perspective. We are left with
> the possibility that Vygotsky is just plain wrong or self contractictory:
> play being a specific kind of activity cannot every provide evidence for
> development or a zoped. Or we have to start to think that some of the
> criteria are no helpful.
> Anyone want to float an example that satisfies the criteria so we can work
> out from there?
> mike
> On 6/5/06, bb <> wrote:
>> The short answer is "No".
>> It always takes some effort to jump into someone else's text/mind, and
>> this
>> may be why the answer to Mike's question seems so elusive. I'm going to
>> try
>> to stick closely to Chaiklin's text, reserving, not pushing, my own
>> perspective.
>> What Chaiklin is advocating, reading among and between the lines, is that
>> one
>> cannot ascribe a zoped without a theoretical framework. First, he
>> clarifies
>> development, and I've been able to pull out these aspects, although the
>> list
>> may not be complete:
>> child development:
>> 1) involves the whole child, not one task
>> 2) is staged
>> 3) is functional
>> 4) is agentful (willful)
>> 5) is historical (need description of the theoretical model)
>> 6) is material
>> Chaiklin states that objective zopeds, while culturally-historically
>> specific,
>> are normative, "one can say that the [objective] zone is normative..." p
>> 49.,
>> reflecting 'a particular societal tradition of practice."
>> So Franklin's definitely not in THAT zone, the objective zone. But what
>> about
>> the subjective zone?
>> For the subjective zoped, Chaiklin writes the "ability to imitate... is
>> the
>> basis for the subjective zoped." p 51. and then "Imitation is possible
>> only to the extent and in those forms in which it is accompanied by
>> understanding" p 51-52.
>> This IS a very specific delineation of 'imitation', not the normal
>> cultural
>> meaning, but I've seen common words used with precise definitions in other
>> areas ( e.g. force, energy, momentum mean precise things to physicists),
>> so I
>> do not find this refinement of 'imitation' peculiar. Rather, the
>> sub-question to Mike's big one becomes " Is Franklin imitating Paley
>> imitating Franklin (or imitating himself) when in the circle, or is he
>> just
>> copying Paley/himself?"
>> For that, we have to try to assess Franklin's understanding of the
>> situation,
>> i.e., reading Chaiklin closeley, this seems to mean whether there are
>> "maturing psychlogical functions that are developing" p 57, to which
>> Paley's
>> intervention is directed. The problem is that Paley just does not
>> articulate
>> enough of the situation for us to tell, one way or the other. My
>> conjecture,
>> reading into the situation, is that there are functions of self-regulation
>> that are in development concerning Franklin -- he can't self-regulate at
>> the
>> blocks, but with the support of a socio-dramatic play context, he is able
>> to
>> cooperate with other children. Paley writes ""pretend disarms and
>> enchants;
>> it suggests heroic possibilities for making changes, just as in the fairy
>> tales." Franklin just may be "imitating", with understanding. The only
>> evidence we seem to have is that he is able to cooperate in one situation,
>> i.e. socio-dramatic simulation of the building blocks, while not being
>> able
>> to cooperate while actually in the building block area.
>> But no, this is circumstantial evidence, not conclusive, becuase a
>> theoretical
>> model of Franklin's age period for self-regulation in the practice of
>> building with blocks has not been expressed, at least not in Paley's
>> paper.
>> Chaiklin writes "the zone is never located soley in the child, not even
>> the
>> subjective zone. the subjective zone is always an evaluation of a child's
>> capabilities in relation to the theoretical model of the age period. p 58.
>> Theoretical models for the role of socio-dramatic play have appeared in
>> the
>> literature however, e.g. in Cole & Cole, and Leong & Bodrova, et...
>> So perhaps Paley knows. Paley wrote: 'A role playing incident may not
>> alter a
>> person's manners, but it provides a standard for easy reference. I can
>> now
>> speak about Franklin's behaviour in a calm context, and he willingly sees
>> himself in the picture'. It's not clear whether Paley is evaluated
>> Franklin's performance in relation to a theoretical model -- she does not
>> articulate this in such a manner in her text. She does seem to have a
>> grasp
>> of the situation, however, writing the first part of her claim in general
>> terms.
>> There is just not enough written about the situation to tell for
>> sure. The
>> Paula and Randy in me want to vote yes, but Simon Says "No".
>> bb
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Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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