Re: [xmca] On Roth's "On Mediation"

From: Gordon Wells <gwells who-is-at>
Date: Wed Oct 24 2007 - 15:28:48 PDT


I too had some difficulty with the non-mediating operation issue. I
agree with your analysis of speaking and Mike Cole's explanation of
Leontiev's example, but I still think that the operation (of
gear-shifting or fish feeding with the scoop) act as mediational
means in the action in focus. Using Mike's explanation, it would
seem that having to attend to gear-shifting - or to how to use the
scoop - means that those are actions - or probably sub-actions -
rather than operations.

Taking this general discussion a little further, wouldn't it also be
necessary to recognize that, just as there are sub-actions, so there
are sub-operations that are even further from conscious awareness?


>Hi Eric,
>thanks for your note.
>>How does the immediacy of operations develop into the mediated
>>actions of a goal directed activity?
>Operations do not "Develop" into mediated actions, they are produced
>in response to current conditions, which include the present state
>of the action. I am thinking about talking in everyday situations as
>a paradigm. We don't go and search for words, they seem to appear in
>our mouths. The type of words is a function of the current state,
>including what we have produced thus far, and we stop not BECAUSE of
>grammatical rules but because of a stop order (remember, most people
>and especially children don't know formal grammar and yet produce
>grammatical sentences), which tells us that what we have produced is
>somehow complete. We can make salient operations, which usually
>happens when something goes wrong, and the reverse happens as we
>become familiar with actions that they disappear from our
>consciousness. When this happens precisely normally is not available
>to consciousness, because it precisely involves the disappearance of
>being conscious of the action. (I once studied it when I was
>teaching in Newfoundland, taking also a course, and doing a study of
>tying shoe laces with a child that had trisomy 21. What are
>operations to us had to be made explicit, involving something like
>18 steps in my case. With time, 2 actions combined, leading to the
>disappearance [becoming operations] of its predecessors)
>On 24-Oct-07, at 9:25 AM, wrote:
>Firstoff: great read! I so enjoy an article that places a "real-world"
>context for the reader to negotiate the scholarly "words". The real-world
>context being the fish hatchery. Also, for once I believe I have a firm
>grasp on how Leontiev was negotiating the avenue of activities, actions and
>operations. Your examples clearly indicate the differences and I am able
>to better understand the history and development of Cultural-Historical
>theory as a result of your article. Thank you. Here is my difficulty.
>Perhaps it is in the paper and I am not deciphering it correctly, perhaps
>not. How does the immediacy of operations develop into the mediated
>actions of a goal directed activity? Where is the explanation of the
>process that allows actions to become operations? Vygotsky viewed the
>transition of speaking aloud to problem solving to inner speech for problem
>solving as the process. Valsiner similar but more intricate in his
>explanations. The difference obviously being that Valsiner has enjoyed
>much more time in the research arena. Using your example of learning how
>to feed the fish could you possibly walk me through your thoughts on how
>you transitioned from using the scoop as a mediating device to the point
>where feeding the fish was an operation and you were able to move into an
>'everydayness' of feeding fish.
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Gordon Wells
Department of Education
University of California, Santa Cruz
xmca mailing list
Received on Wed Oct 24 15:34 PDT 2007

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