Re: [xmca] Playfully Answering Ana--

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (
Date: Thu Jun 08 2006 - 14:36:18 PDT

Thanks, Mike,
I was not sure -- :-)

I think you asked a very important question about play and zone of
proximal development. One of the problems we have is that "play" (even
if we talk only about fantasy play, or dramatic play, or role play, or
pretend play -- all various names for the roughly the same phenomenon)
is not understood the same by various people. Despite an extensive study
by Elkonin which builds on Vygotsky, and a half a dozen people who study
play from the CHAT perspective, there are still many unknowns.
For instance:
Is it ONE phenomenon that we are talking about?? There are many
definitions, some of them incompatible with each other.
Many episodes in literature, like the one by V. Paley of Franklin, are
impressionistic stories taken by teachers or even researchers -- which
filter out many details thought not to be important for understanding play.
There is a large body of research on play in this country and in English
in general, by people who have never heard of Vygotsky or cultural
historical activity theory. While they are fascinating in their own
right, it is sometimes clear that what the authors are observing misses
out features needed to be known by someone who would want to find out
weather there might be a possibility of the zone of proximal development
taking place...
Fourth, the generally accepted definitions of the ZPD - and
interpretations like the one we have by Seth, are based on very
different type of activities (academic testing, or at least an academic
dialogue between an adult and a child) than play - weather spontaneous
or guided, weather by children only or including adults.
And finally, I think that looking at isolated episodes cannot is
insufficient. Since, by definition, ZPD is a construction zone, a time
of dynamic changes where everything is "up in the air", a longer period
of time and more play and non play observations should be made on a
child in order to be able to make any decisive conclusions about that
child's position in her/his ZPD.

But this is definitely one of the most important areas of further study.
We do need a solid theoretical connection between play and play like
activities on one hand and academic learning and development
(intellectual, emotional, personal etc) on the other.

Mike Cole wrote:
> That was a chapter from Elkonin that appeared in
> Journal Russian East European Psych, 2005, vol 43, NO1
> All of Psych of play is there I think.
> mike
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Ana Marjanovic'-Shane,Ph.D.

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