Re: [xmca] LV Quote on the importance of meaningful work in learning and development

From: deborah downing-wilson <ddowningw who-is-at>
Date: Fri Jan 11 2008 - 12:19:40 PST

I think maybe by using the term 'leading activity' I've pulled into heavier
traffic than I intended. I find the Leontiev passage helpful - sorry if it
makes you sad. I'm building a simple (!?) case for practicum experience as
a necessary element of undergraduate education in the social sciences - much
like lab experience in the hard sciences - and looking for support
passages. Thanks for sending me back to the ZPD literature. I'll lurk with
interest around the broader discussion on neoformations and leading

Thanks for your help.


On Jan 11, 2008 11:16 AM, David Kellogg <> wrote:

> This brings up a good point from the San Diego-Helsinki seminar on
> development. Olga Vasquez asked it and nobody has really answered it.
> "What is the difference between neoformation and leading activity?"
> I can't find ANY mention of leading activity ANYwhere in LSV. In Vol. 5
> he does talk a lot about neoformations, but they are clearly not the same
> thing as "leading activity".
> For one thing, periods of crisis have neoformations which then completely
> disappear. For example, the crisis at one is characterized by so-called
> "autonomous speech", that is, a speech that nobody but the child can
> understand. This completely disappears when the child learns socialized
> speech.
> The crisis at three is characterized by "negativism", that is, the
> curious and undoubtedly transitory phenomenon of will without volition,
> e.g. the tendency to say no even to activities that the child wants to
> engage in simply in order to assert will. These critical neoformations
> disappear, but "leading activities" do not.
> Neoformations are also NOT the main activity of a particular period of
> the child's life. So for example in Chapter Seven of Mind in Society (and
> elswhere) LSV resists the idea that play is the main activity. It's a new
> activity, and it's developmental properties derive from its position at the
> leading edge, and not the centre, of the child's zone of proximal
> development.
> I have an explanation, but it's a little sad, particularly in the light
> of what Mike said earlier about the things ANL had to do to stay alive. I've
> got a copy of something called the "Benjamin Rush Bulletin", vol. 1 no. 4
> (Summer 1950) apparently a publication of the Communist psychologists in the
> USA in the McCarthy period. The leading article is a self-criticsm by
> Leontiev, "The Most Important Tasks of Soviet Psychology" (pp. 6-18).
> In it he explicitly renounces the idea of crises. There's also an
> "anti-crisis" passage in ANL's Problems of the Development of the Mind". He
> also fawns on Lysenko and denounces his colleague Rubinshtein and himself.
> Yet even in the darkest part of the article, there's a glimmer of the light
> left by the master.
> "...(I)t is necessary to orient oneself, not only on the present
> possibilities of the chid, but also on the perspective of further
> deelopment. At the same time, the very process of transition of the child to
> a new type of vital relations, to his new 'position', must take place not
> spontaneously but under the guidance of education. It is necessary to place
> before the child, at the opportune time, new tasks and to include him in a
> new type of relationshp. In an adverse case, this transition may take place
> in the form of a 'crisis of development' which in bourgeois psychology is
> incorrectly described as the 'transition age' itself and is considered
> inevitable." p. 15.
> Of coure implicit in this paragraph (and quite explicit in other parts of
> the article) is T.D. Lysenko's quack insistance that epigenesis is
> inheritable. But there is also the spark of the ZPD. The repetition of "new"
> might be a sop to the Stalinist censor, but it is also a reminder of LSV's
> original formulation, the "neoformation".
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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Deborah Downing Wilson
Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition
University of California San Diego
xmca mailing list
Received on Fri Jan 11 12:26 PST 2008

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