Re: [xmca] Playfully Answering Ana--

From: Gordon Wells (
Date: Wed Jun 14 2006 - 01:21:22 PDT

Neil Mercer has an interesting paper (with colleagues) in which he
proposes criteria for empirical evidence of successful scaffolding
(which I take, in this context, to be closely related to zpd:
Maybin, J ,Mercer, N. and Stierer, B. (1992) 'Scaffolding' learning
in the classroom. In K. Norman (Ed.) Thinking voices: The work of the
National Oracy Project (p. 186-195). London: Hodder and Stoughton.
I'll try to find it when I return from my travels.


>Lois, Ed, the Ghost of LSV, and humpty dumpty---
>Here is how I read the current, really instructive and fascinating thread:
>Someone raises the issue of zones of proximal development (zopeds in my
>terminology) in a way that
>gets me to ask people to send papers of what they mean by this with
>empirical examples that support
>their views. Seth's survey from the Plenum volumes inspires this interest
>because he basically says that
>we Americans are badly mistaken in our interpretation of LSV and the
>meanings of learning and development (especially)
>and he offers a set of criteria for straight thinking about the issues. I
>post Seth's article and my own favorite example of
>what I think is a zoped from Paley. and something else I forget at the
>moment-- and I would happily post more!).
>Discussion begins. Its all there on xma web page.
>I conclude after a lot of discussion that so far as I can tell, if we adopt
>the Chaiklin (presumably LSV) criteria for what
>constitutes development, there are NO empirical examples of zopeds in EITHER
>teaching/learning offered by LSV or
>anyone else. I ask for examples that contradict me from the (distributedly
>assembled) group.
>is what comes back.
>There are suggestions that perhaps LSV was only speaking metaphorically,
>that Paley is vague and Franklin's story is only an
>anecdote, that we should relax Chaiklin's criteria, that........... a lot
>of things. BUT, no one puts forward a claim that they have an
>example that illustrates convincingly anything that someone would call a
>zoped except LSV who took the story of two sisters playing
>sister as an example for play and some remarks from macarthy psychomotor
>scales (1930?) as examples. And no one says its
>a pile of crap-- that learning is development, that development is...... etc
>Ed says no problem, LSV was a phenomenologist. I would say he was an
>empirical. philosopher, like Dewey or many of those on XMCA.
>According to Luria, he did little demos, pour voir (as Sylvia and I wrote in
>the intro to the 1978 volume). Don would probably quote
>humpty dumpty, with whom I have great sympathy.
>But this being, so to speak, empirical philosophy, it seems at least
>relevant to ask what consittutes empirical evidence relevant to the
>My own view is that Paley is a brilliant empricist whose methods are
>ecologically valid and hugely insightful, if not readily replicable (after
>you have to commit yourself to spending 40 years working in a preschool
>classroom, recording conversations, writing them down, etc and what self
>respecting academic researcher would was their time doing that?).
>Then there is the issue of practice. Given that we can all use words as we
>wish, or as big brother makes us use them, what difference does it
>make, other than getting published in a high status journal so we can get
>paid to gabble? For me, personally, the ideas appear to guide design
>of (excuse the term!) developmentally productive practices for kids and
>undergrads and post docs and old professors. But if I were to trot
>out a lot of examples I believe in, or evidence, or whatever, that would be
>playing big brother in the context of MCA. So I am trying to ask
>questions to understand what others think of the issues so that I can learn,
>and develop, as a result.
>That is the context for my imprecise remarks. Sorry to be so vague. It comes
>with my territory. Perhaps you could help us develop?
>On 6/10/06, Lois Holzman <> wrote:
>>Yes, I have thought about this. As you, Vesna, know, I think of the zoped
>>something people create together, which is a view you and I share. Can we
>>see this in the examples that are the focus of this current conversation?
>>I'm going to look.
>>> From: "zdravo" <zdravo@EUnet.yu>
>>> Reply-To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
>>> Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2006 12:37:33 +0200
>>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
>>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Playfully Answering Ana--
>>> Ana, thanks for your conversations. I will put some questions. Could our
>>> talking about Zoped from CHAT perspective, be or become Zoped in itself?
>>> Have you ever thought about that?
>>> Vesna
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> From: "Ana Marjanovic-Shane" <>
>>> To: <>; "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
>>> <>
>>> Sent: Thursday, June 08, 2006 11:36 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Playfully Answering Ana--
>>>> 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
>>>> by Elkonin which builds on Vygotsky, and a half a dozen people who
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> 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.
>>>> Ana
>>>> 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.
>>>> 151 W. Tulpehocken St.
>>>> Philadelphia, PA 19144
>> >>
>>>> Home office: (215) 843-2909
>>>> Mobile: (267) 334-2905
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Gordon Wells
Dept of Education,
UC Santa Cruz.
xmca mailing list

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