Re: [xmca] Another Claim That LSV Did Not Originate the ZPD

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Wed Jan 23 2008 - 12:04:47 PST

I'll try, Cathrene! It's a book called "The Psychology of Learning", and it's the English translation of Ernst Meumann's "Economy and Technique of Learning" done by J.W. Baird at Clark University (New York and London: D. Appleton and Company, 1913).
  The reason I think this is the book LSV was reading is that there's a LOT of stuff on mnemonic techniques. And on pp. 119-122, there's a description of the famous "photograph" experiment that LSV critiques in the Collected Volume Four. You remember that LSV writes:
  ¡°(I)f one and the same picture (let us say, the prisoner in jail) is shown to a three-year-old, he will say 'a man, another man, a window, a mug, a bench', but for a preschool child it would be 'a man is sitting, another is looking out of a window, and a mug is on the bench'. (...) A five-year-old establishes a connection between words in a single sentence, and an eight-year-old uses complex additional sentences. A theoretical assumption arises: can the story about the picture describe the child's thinking? (...) We will ask two children not to tell a story, but to perform what the picture shows. It develops that the children's play about the picture sometimes lasts twenty or thirty minutes, and primarily and most of all in the play those relations are captured that are in the picture. (...) The child understands very well that the people are in jail: here the complex narration about how the people were caught, how they were taken, that one looks out the window, and that
 he wants to be free is added. Here a very complex narration is added about how the nanny was fined for not having a ticket on the trolley. In a word, we get a typical portrayal of what we see in the story of a twelve-year-old. (1997: 193-194)"
  LSV's criticism was actually the basis for his Parts and Wholes argument (and it's the whole basis for Hyosun's work, which just subsitutes a cartoon for a photograph but uses exactly the same experimental procedure)!
  Meumann, on the other hand, takes Stern's explanation of the experiment as gospel. That gives him the following developmental stages:
  (About seven years) the "substance" sage "Here the child enumerates persons and things without coherent connection"
  e.g. "A man, a woman, a cradle, a bed, a boy, a chair, a bench, a doll, three pictures, a cross, a window, a boot-jack, a table, a plate, a dish"
  (7-10 years old): the "action" stage "Here the chief objects of attention are the activities of people."
  (12-14 years old): the "relation" stage "chiefly the relations of things and particularly their spatial relations attract attention"
  (14 on) the "quality stage" "properties of things are observed and analyzed".
  e.g. "A room with ceiling of wood, probably oak; upon one of the walls there hangs a picture, with gilded frame, of a small house and a tree. A window with a shade partly rolled up and a picture upon it. In the foreground a table with brown, turned legs...."
  As LSV points out in his critique of Stern (Chapter Three of Thinking and Speech) there is no explanation of how the child moves from stage to stage, and in fact there cannot be because Stern does not distinguish between learning and development.
  In Vol. Five, LSV (or anyway his translator) is a little less diplomatic: "In my opinion, the main defect of Stern¡¯s theory is the logical error it contains, an error that has been called petitio principi in logic. This may crudely be translated as 'ass backward'." (1998: 247)
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Wed Jan 23 12:07 PST 2008

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