RE: [xmca] neoformation

From: Michael Glassman <MGlassman who-is-at>
Date: Mon Feb 04 2008 - 05:16:28 PST

You know it also might be the other way around, that people in the U.S. are not really that taken with Vygotsky but with the zpd because it fits relatively well in to modern mainstream discourse in the United States in studying children (it can be isolated, it can be measured, it measures a particular aspect of the child - cognitive development, its contextual aspects are limited), and they are happy to associate Vygotsky with the ZPD.


From: on behalf of Peter Smagorinsky
Sent: Mon 2/4/2008 6:06 AM
To: 'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'
Subject: RE: [xmca] neoformation

I wonder if the idea that "Americans" are heavily focused on the zpd comes
from the possibility that Mind in Society presented it early as a Vygotskian
construct in translation, and it was converted to a new metaphor
("scaffolding") that people can grasp relatively easily (if not particularly
deeply in many cases). But I think it's mostly something that's focused on
by people who haven't read much LSV, which would be most people in the US
who talk about LSV. The zpd is also something that an ed psych textbook can
include that "explains" Vygotsky while covering many perspectives on human
development or other ed psych topics.

But I think that people who read a bit beyond a chapter excerpt from Mind in
Society look at more than the ZPD. In my view, the problem is that in the
US, there's a paucity of people who've read beyond the introductory
readings, and thus the appearance of a national focus on what's most readily
available. Those who've read more tend to put the zpd into the perspective
of Vygotsky's larger project, I think.

Peter Smagorinsky
The University of Georgia
125 Aderhold Hall
Athens, GA 30602

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Dot Robbins
Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2008 5:05 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] neoformation

Thank many of you for your thoughts on neoformations, ZPD, social situation
of development, leading is interesting to find articles that
try to return to the unity of the genetic, structural, and functional
analysis of consciousness and development. And, when in Moscow in the past,
I was asked numerous times why there is such a focus on the ZPD in the West,
as opposed to critical/non-critical times of development neoformations, etc.
The only answer I had (and correct me if this is wrong) is that in the USA,
to my understanding, there are certainly many clinical psychologists who use
Luria's ideas, but fewer psychologists who use Vygotsky's ideas (assuming
that the majority of Vygotskians [certainly not all] in the USA are in some
form of education). So, I continually look for articles that try to refocus
on basic issues through the lens that includes non-linear thinking,
non-classical or organic psychology, historical method, "systemics,"
dialectics, etc., a
 return to trying to understand what the "experimental-genetic method" is,
and to develop my own Vygotskian heuristic that can be used for personal
"transformation," which will also inspire/motivate others. It is a drive for
constant change that leads to development in all ages, and this is where
Vygotsky helps me. It is not so much striving to understand static
definitions, but how to use a method for real change. How do we actually
understand the process of development as "developing" and the potentiality
involved? And, all of this leads to thoughts on causality, determinism, as
well as internalization, etc.
  I believe the ideas of neoformation, social situation of development,
leading activity, ZPD, critical periods (that need to be extended beyond
17years of age, in Moscow there have been discussions on the critical ages
of 22 and 24) have not been viewed in a unified manner, which must also
include word meaning, concept formation, operational-technical and
emotional-motivational aspects of activity, etc. Returning to neoformations,
I would like to understand that concept more, especially in relation to its
transitional role, and the fact that neoformations can be brought to life or
experimentally created. It also returns to the ideas of "engagement" and
"separation" where non-linear paths cross and form connections, such as
spontaneous/scientific concepts (and to be honest, I feel that our
interpretations are sometimes limiting and rigid.for example, scientific
concepts which are often viewed from the abstract to the concrete, or
spontaneous concepts from the concrete to
 the abstract, something I find difficult to truly understand in some
Western texts).
  Nik Veresov has written an article that views neoformations (and the
social situation of development) that encourages me regarding a newer vision
of integral unity, non-linear thinking, etc. "Leading Activity in
Development Psychology." Journal of Russian and East European Psychology,
2006, 44/5, pp. 7-25. He returns to a position of Vygotskian ideas within a
systemic, organic (living, dialectical) approach. He also enters the world
of "between" and Vygotsky's interaction of the ideal and real forms...I hope
we will see more articles on the concept of neoformations. Thanks to David,
Elina, Mike, others for stimulating new thoughts on a subject rarely
  Warm regards,
  P.S. Nik also mentions K. Polivanova, and the word Sasha spoke of earlier
subjectivization. "In her splendid book she cogently demonstrates that the
content of crises is the transformation of an age-related new formation into
a subjective capability-subjectivization." (p. 22)

Dorothy (Dot) Robbins
Professor of German
Russian Orphanage Vyschgorod

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Received on Mon Feb 4 05:22 PST 2008

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