[xmca] Re: Once Again, Learning and Development!

From: MARK DE BOER <mark who-is-at ias-group.com>
Date: Sun Jan 20 2008 - 04:32:17 PST


At least we agree that we disagree.

I have two papers in the works with TESOL - not with the Quarterly,
but with the Classroom practice series, due out this year. I did a
collaborative paper with two other colleagues on Dictogloss form three
classroom perspectives. It was a great experience!

How do my papers contribute?...
a) Learning and development. I haven't been able to discuss this with
Ohta, (sabbatical?) but I think she focuses primarily on microgenesis,
which might explain her response to you. At that level, I don't think
that development is at all addressed. In my current research in terms
of classroom transformation the focus is not only on microgenesis, but
also on the level of ontogenesis and sociocultural. I believe that in
the classroom, especially one of student centered learning, there
needs to be a focus above the level of microgenesis. This is where the
development would happen and this is also where the teacher fits in.

b) Hence the study of Halliday comes into the picture. Why do students
and teachers need to speak he same language? Yes the solution is S-S,
but not entirely. The teacher needs to up the anti. This I think
relates to the central and peripheral issue you raise. I detest PPP
and all it stands for, despite the fact it s still needed. In this
case the learning is black and white, whereas the zpd is more along
the lines of grays coming in and exiting. Dr. Cole asks the question -
where is the activity? and the comments that in the activity, the zpd
of someone might be different from another... I am very much
interested in how the classroom develops over time from this regard.
How does the interaction between students and between the teacher and
the students differ over time? In the SC model, there is nowhere that
the classroom can develop on an ontogenetic level, I don't think (or
in a PPP setting either) this can happen. But in a setting where the
students are able to interact, this can happen and I do believe that
it can also develop over time at a sociocultural level. Engestrom's
powerpoint presentation's last 2 slides I think are really important
in this regard. What the V-task is essentially set up to do is to is
to teach students how to get the answers they need. Or how to be able
to discover their own paths to meaning. Yes Ohta and Donato and Swain
and Lapkin is all adult data, but I think the development can go
lower. It essentially starts out very young anyways does it not? Out
in the playground 4 or 5 year olds testing out their own language,
their own 'identities', making sense of things that you or I watching
would have no clue as to what they are talking about. The V-task is
not role plays - and I wouldn't say it is holistic either. If they
were doing the same activity in their own language - a good experiment
to try out - they would certainly do it in much the same way. If they
didn't know something, they would ask. If they didn't know the
spelling, they would ask.

c) I never have delved into the whole and the parts kind of thinking
up to now... maybe it's time I should? I think of it in terms of a
body and its individual organs. Of course the organs need to develop
as does the whole body and there needs to be a balance between the
two. Or it can be thought of as a company with various departments all
depending on each other to grow and survive, one department needs
another just as it is needed. Just as the classroom needs to be able
to develop to fit the growing needs of the individuals. The teacher
can certainly help, but the students in their various tasks, need to
help each other work through their zpds and in doing so help the
whole. The whole then is readjusted and the parts can further develop.
As Dr. Cole points out, how can their be any empirical data for this?
The only way to do this in a classroom setting is to use a model to
discover the language used and the way it is used as well as the
interactions that are occuring. From that standpoint, at least then it
will be easy to see the level of development above microgenesis.

In your question about where the teacher fits in, it is in this
process of classroom development where the teacher plays the role. I
know you dislike Kumaravadivelu, but in a sense, the teacher needs to
focus on the microgenesis - looking for learning opportunities and
scaffolding so that the classroom can begin to develop into a 'unit of
collaboration' where students learn to learn and the teacher is there
to monitor that. The teacher eventually should not be needed for a
classroom which the students are able to understand the role of
themselves within the classroom. Of course this I think would never
happen, the students will always need the teacher, because the outcome
of the activity system is never reached.

In order for me to be able to understand the classroom, I need to view
it as a whole - what I intend for the classroom to do. Then from there
I need to examine the little parts to get there i.e. what the students
need to do. Little by little, from the help of everyone on the list,
the job is getting easier.

Sorry for the jumbled e-mail, but I wanted to respond and although
there are parts that I still need to think about, those will have to
come later.


On Jan 20, 20 Heisei, at 01:16, David Kellogg wrote:

> Mark--
> Thanks for sending your two articles, and my congratulations on
> gettng past the first hurdle with TESOL Quarterly. (I'm truly
> envious; I've got a stack of rejections from them I could wall-paper
> my bathroom and maybe even my classroom with.)
> I guess you know we disagree on a LOT ("interlanguage",
> "scaffolding", private education, the role of rote learning, PPP,
> "task based teaching", use of native-speaker English in class, and
> so on and so on and so on). So I was pleasantly surprised to find
> some things we agree on.
> I too see NO difference between "task based teaching" and "teaching
> English through English" at least as far as kids are concerned. With
> adults it's a bit different because Long and Robinson, at least,
> have argued that tasks have 'real-world' outcomes, meaning they are
> related to the world of work. But kids have no experience of work;
> as far as they are concerned, the classroom IS the 'real world'.
> I too find Sinclair and Coulthard almost useless for describing
> classroom discourse (though I guess if you are doing an MA for
> Birmingham you can't really say that!). Mehan's version was
> considerably better (because he had the key insight that "follow up"
> is not simply a response to a response but an INTEGRATING move that
> explains how the whole exchange fits in with other exchanges).
> But I think both S&C and Mehan are too "microscopic"to describe how
> learning turns into development; they are projections of the micro-
> structure of interaction onto the macro-structure of the lesson, and
> if we want to understand how relations BETWEEN people become
> relations WITHIN them we might do well to start at the other end
> with episodes (the way Wells and Swain have done).
> Like you, I can't find the distinction between "learning" and
> "development" in Ohta's work, so I don't know how it relates to the
> ZPD or even to Vygotsky. Actually, I asked her about this last
> April, and she told me that she didn't see any difference at all.
> (Vygotsky sure did!)
> But to turn to the matter at hand (I don't know why I think MY
> version is the matter at hand and YOURS is not, except that I got
> here first!). Tell me how you think your papers relate to the
> following issues:
> a) Learning and Development. We need some way of distinguishing
> between them! As Mike says, LSV wrote a whole chapter on this and
> it's still not entirely clear. They are linked but distinct, linked
> but distinct, linked but distinct...and we need to figure out some
> way of distinguishing between them that does not sever that crucial
> generative connection.
> b) Teachers and Pupils. Here the distinction is clear, but it's the
> LINK that's unclear. They don't speak the same language, not even in
> your data. When the teacher says "It's time for recess" and the
> chldren say "What's recess?" (and not "What is recess?" or "What are
> recess?") the teacher answers "(Recess is the time) When you play."
> That is a very DIFFERENT kind of language than the language the
> children are using, isn't it? Your solution is S-S interaction, and
> it's a good one. But then where does the teacher fit?
> c) (This is an issue I forgot to include last night when I
> impetuously sent off the whole chapter I've been working on instead
> of stripping it down to the data) Parts and Wholes. This is what LSV
> talks about in Vol. 5 of the collected works, and it's the bit that
> stumped Mike. He says the evolution of the PARTS influence the
> development of the WHOLE during NON-critical periods, and then the
> restructuring of the WHOLE influences the development of the PARTS
> during the critical periods. I guess I was thinking that the
> children go from a holistic understanding of the text to an
> analytical one in my data (and this is also a confusion of
> development and learning). But I'm not sure what the whole and the
> parts are for your data.
> d) (This is ANOTHER issue from Vol. 5 I forgot to include): Central
> functions and peripheral functions. Mike also talks about this in
> his LCHC-Centre for Activity Research on-line presentation. I guess
> I thought that in my data we can see a situation where UNDERSTANDING
> is the central function (comprehension) and EXPRESSION is peripheral
> turn into a situation where EXPRESSION is central (role play) and
> comprehension is subordinated to expression (in time as well as
> importance).
> I think that I see this as happening precisely by means of the T-S
> discussions that you are trying to circumvent in your paper (the V-
> task is really an S-T discussion!) The T knows how to focus on
> setting and characters in the bootstrapping phase, and also how to
> analyze the utterances into various semantic roles using wh-
> questions. S-S child role plays tend to be too holistic for this
> purpose (the lit on "peer scaffolding", Ohta and Donato and Swain
> and Lapkin, is ALL adult data you notice!).
> Actually, I'm not sure if this way of understanding what Vygotsky
> meant by central functions and peripheral functions is right at all.
> It's okay for learning, but it does seem too microgenetic to
> describe development, doesn't it? Perhaps the BEST thing to do is to
> take this back to XMCA and see what others think!
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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> Search.

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Received on Sun Jan 20 04:36 PST 2008

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