Re: [xmca] Playfully Answering Ana--

From: Ed Wall (
Date: Sat Jun 10 2006 - 13:48:16 PDT

These and other observations I have found quite interesting. However,
I have resisted joining in as I, perhaps, tend to view the 'zpd' in,
relatively speaking, un-useful ways. I have tended to focus on
Vygotosky as a somewhat phenomenological thinker (and given the time
period he was writing the line between psychology and phenomenology
might have been a little less clearly drawn) and see the 'zpd' as
something that he was _pointing at_. This doesn't mean that it is
metaphorical - although his choice of words might be taken that way
(Halliday has some interesting comments on dead metaphors by the
way). There is also a sense in which all this discussion of 'zpd'
reminds me of Wittgenstein's purposeful struggle with 'game.' In any
case I found Chailkin's writing quite helpful in provoking my
thinking about the 'zpd' and not at all helpful in somewhat pinning
down the 'zpd.' It just, in my opinion, isn't that sort of thing
(and, just to show you how fuzzy my thinking is - smile - I don't
think 'teaching' and 'learning' are any better).

However, I do think something is there (perhaps in somewhat the same
way as snarks or quarks for that matter). Something that Vygotosky
has usefully drawn my attention to and something worthy of thinking
about. What Paley and Franklin are up to in the playroom given who
and what they are is important and the notion of 'zpd' draws my
attention to that instance in various ways (and this is a 'purpose'
of phenomenology) and helps me think more deeply (for want of a
better word) about what is going on, i.e. the phenomena itself. What
I find most interesting about all this discussion is how 'zpd' acts a
a magnet for something - Vesna's question (and the various
references) is a good example of that - and wonder how to go deeper
without getting too involved in "zpd =." It seems that Vygotsky
offers some ideas (at least, that is one reading of Chailkin).

Ed Wall

>Dear all,
>"his or her zone" -- should be taken to mean that we are focusing on
>a particular individual (maybe not always a child -- as Vesna
>suggested -- we on this discussion maybe are in a ZPD about the ZPD
>right now :-)). It does not mean that the zone is not distributed
>across the social situation, interpersonal relations, particular
>activities and events.
>However, we do have a difficulty in defining it -- Does the "zone"
>manifest itself always as an observable interactive activity? From
>the examples given by bb -- the two boys were partly in a class
>dealing with whatever the class was doing and partly in a "zone"
>(more in Csikszentmihalyi sense of the "flow") they created for
>themselves apart from the ongoing social activity.
>In addition, ZPD also implies the notion of internalization - that
>the activity which is at the start done interactively with others,
>becomes progressively internalized (so that the child can do more
>and more "alone" to achieve the same effect) -- which means that the
>ZPD is probably always comprised out of partly observable
>interactive activity and partly out of imagined "private" and
>internalized psychological functions.
>Isn't that interesting??
>Peter Smagorinsky wrote:
>>But surely he was in A zone, if not the teacher's. If the teacher
>>was trying to get him to fill out worksheets, he's better off,
>>methinks, working on his music or finding patterns in the ceiling. p
>>At 01:08 PM 6/10/2006 +0000, you wrote:
>>>Yes, this makes sense. I know of a child whose elementary school
>>>teacher complained that he would not pay attention -- he was doing
>>>tihngs like looking at the ceiling (when I asked he said he was
>>>finding patterns in it) -- and she would have been surprised to
>>>find years later that he scored 99%ile in math. His middle school
>>>teacher, who complained of his constant foot tapping, was surpised
>>>to find that he was a drummer... but in all this, is it also not
>>>true that these teachers instincts were right -- that this kid was
>>>not in the zone because he was not attending to the moment?
>>> -------------- Original message ----------------------
>>>From: Peter Smagorinsky <>
>>>> At 05:36 PM 6/8/2006 -0400, you wrote: 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.
>>>> I haven't contributed much to this discussion--am teaching a summer class
>>>> and trying to get some writing done. I'm wondering, though, about the idea
>>>> that a child has "his/her zpd." If cognition is distributed, it seems that
>>>> the zpd isn't the child's alone, but extended to mediational tools, their
>>>> histories, and the community of practice in which they're used (and more
>>>> I'm sure). In 1990 Luis Moll equated zpd's with social contexts (his intro
>>>> to Vygotsky and Education), and I've always found that to be a useful
>>>> reformulation of Vygotsky's relatively brief account of the zpd: It's not
>>>> an individual capacity, but using Vygotskian logic, the setting (including
>>>> the learner) in which potential may be realized. Peter
>>>> _______________________________________________
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>Ana Marjanovic'-Shane,Ph.D.
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