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

From: Peg Griffin <Peg.Griffin who-is-at>
Date: Mon Jan 21 2008 - 06:37:52 PST

Regarding Andy Blunden's use of the phrase "stage of development ...
There's something that interests many of us because it helps to distinguish
socio-historical and cultural-historical work from that of Piaget and
others: To understand children's changes the view from our perspective is
not so much about individual, internal, stage-like leaps that are almost
inevitable. Socio-cultural activity, interactions, artifacts and
institutions (that are mutually constitutive with individual change) come to
the fore. Any observations that could serve as evidence of the child
attaining a stage are seldom seen. Things like Piaget's "decalage" (vertical
or horizontal) become more the rule than the exception.
-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: Sunday, January 20, 2008 6:15 PM
To:; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Once Again, Learning and Development!

Well Mike I don't know enough about child development to know if what David
says is right. Is a move from expression to understanding associated with a
certain stage in personal development? I don't know.

It seems to me that LSV is quite explicit about it in "The Problem of Age"
LSV (in my amateurish understanding) meant that (eg) in the first months
of life (but after surviving the biological trauma of the birth itself) the
child is utterly dependent on its carers for every life function, and that
therefore the acquisition of the care and attention of the relevant adults
was the only important activity of the baby, whereas in early childhood
when the child must integrate its activity into that of those around it and
begin to control its own actions accordingly, the development of speech in
the course of seeking assistance and collaborating with adults in its own
care is of central importance, and so on and so on. I.e., the leading
activity is different according to the stage of development the child has
attained in their active relations with society. (excuse the mistakes I
make about child development. I haven't seen a child for ages and I tend to
skip over detail when reading this stuff) So the "leading activity" is
inextricably linked to the social situation the child has attained which
needs/affords the relevant type of activity. LSV lists 6 periods of smooth
development between periods of crisis. Each phase ought to be correlated to
a certain kind of relation to those around her and a leading function which
works on that relation. Of course all the other relations and activities
also continue, but they are not crucial to overcoming the preceding crisis
and preparing the next crisis. The crisis preceding it arises from the fact
that the child is not equipped for that new relation/form of social
activity and yet they have to. The crisis terminating it arises from the
fact that this type of activity and the skills that enable it are no longer
adequate to the demands of life generated by having operated at that level.

This is the same idea Marx is talking about. Imagine a country which
develops its industrial power to a certain point, but for whatever reason
is unable to gain colonies. This would lead to a huge crisis in that
country ... and we have a World War.

Imagine a science still guided by the tenets of crude empiricism which
begins to develop explanatory theories which call upon concepts which go
beyond the categories of sense perception and empirical description. Unless
that science can escape the confines of empiricism it will fall into
crisis. The whole business of paradigm change (Kuhn) is relevant though
this notion comes from the American tradition rather than the
German/Russian tradition.

I am sure any problem of development can be honed down to the key activity,
and that child development is open to a finer grain of analysis that the 6
stages LSV mentions. In my own development as a writer I have been aware
that I have had a number of distinct achievements that I have to make and
distinct kinds of activity and relation to the world around me
corresponding to each stage. Currently I have defined my current stage of
development as needing to have dialogue so that I can learn to bring my
ideas into debates actually happening around me rather than in history or
my imagination and include myself in debates. At previous stages it was
wider reading, or improving technical writing skills or developing a
critical "position," etc., etc. In this case there may be a certain
arbitrariness to the sequence of tasks, but only relatively so.

At 10:37 AM 20/01/2008 -0800, you wrote:
>Andy, David, Mark, Elina, and Pegetal too!
>David wrote: (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).
>How faithfully, from your perspective, does the Marx quotation below
>what LSV was talking about? Does David's understanding-->expression example
>exemplify for all what LSV (Marx?) was referring to? Is the example
>developmental? Is comprehension subordinated to expression a "higher level"
>in some circumstances than others? How do we we think of the example in
>terms such as
>"leading activity."
>On Jan 19, 2008 6:02 PM, Andy Blunden <> wrote:
> >
> > There is in every social formation a particular branch of production
> > determines the position and importance of all the others, and the
> > relations
> > obtaining in this branch accordingly determine the relations of all
> > branches as well. It is as though light of a particular hue were cast
> > everything, tingeing all other colours and modifying their specific
> > features.
> >
> > Marx, <../../1859/critique-pol-economy/appx1.htm#p211>Preface to the
> > Critique of Political Economy (1859)
> >
> >
> >
> > At 08:16 AM 19/01/2008 -0800, you wrote:
> > >... Actually, I'm not sure if this way of understanding what Vygotsky
> > >meant by central functions and peripheral functions is right at all.
> > >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
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> >
>xmca mailing list

  Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
mobile 0409 358 651

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Received on Mon Jan 21 06:39 PST 2008

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