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Re: [xmca] Does "Obuchenie" Have Two Sides?
- To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: Re: [xmca] Does "Obuchenie" Have Two Sides?
- From: mike cole <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 17 Nov 2009 16:41:34 -0800
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I cannot answer all your questions without access to the original Russian of
the earlier and later uses of the term, obuchenie, by
Vygotky. I believe my answer to your first question, concerning the
essay in question, is that LSV's very heavy emphasis is on the instruction
side of what i think he viewed as a dialectic process.
Perhaps our native Russian speakers and more broadly educated
Vygotskian scholars are xmca can provide the needed answers in a timely way.
Its an interesting question whether and how LSV viewed the relation between
social situation of development and social environment and the
chronology/contexts of use of "sitsuatsia" and "sredsvo" or "okruszhaiushi
mir" and such terms.
Sorry not be to more informative.
ps-- your leads to reflect that there can be, and often is, in everyday
parlance, instruction without learning and of course there is learning
without deliberate instruction. But all that does is lead back to the
On Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 6:46 AM, Jonathan Tudge JRTUDGE <email@example.com>wrote:
> Hi, David,
> I haven't read Mike's critique of the use of "teaching/learning" as a
> translation of obuchenie, which obviouisly makes it a little tricky to
> respond. However, those like myself who have used teaching/learning as a
> reasonable translation would disagree with Mike's point (or your summary
> of it) "that "teaching/learning" is no more adequate than "learning" or
> "teaching" on its own." In English these two words have quite different
> meanings, despite the fact that we may actually learn best in the course
> of teaching. In Russian, however, the situation is more complex.
> Obuchenie is the noun associated with obuchit' (to teach or instruct) and
> with obuchit'cya (to learn). Take away the prefix "ob" and you're left
> with uchit' (which can be translated both as to teach [the first meaning]
> and to learn or memorize) and uchit'cya (to learn or to study).
> In other words, unlike in English, obuchenie carries the meaning of both
> teaching and learning. How can we best represent that? I don't think
> that it helps to translate the same word, in the same context,
> consistently as "instruction" (as in the 1987 Plenum translation of
> Thinking and speech) and as "learning" (Mind in society). Given the fact
> that the English language doesn't have a word that captures both teaching
> and learning how do we represent the concept? At least in the places
> where I've written about this "teaching/learning" is clearly not intended
> to mean "teaching or learning"; as Scrimsher and I wrote: "By contrast,
> the meaning of 'teaching/learning' is subtly, but clearly, different from
> either of the words used alone" (Tudge & Scrimsher, 2003, p. 212). At
> least from my reading of Vygotsky's ideas about zones of proximal
> development being created in the course of interaction, the combined sense
> of teaching and learning fits better than either word used alone.
> If the "/" has the inadvertent effect of signalling "either/or" (which
> thus should presumably be read as "either 'either' or 'or'") I'd be happy
> to use "teaching-learning" or some other way of signalling a multifaceted
> process for which English has no equivalent. Use of "obuchenie" itself
> probably won't work, as too many people already think that it means
> "instruction" (a view that fits nicely with the teacher-dominated view of
> scaffolding that too often prevails).
> All the best,
> Jonathan Tudge
> 155 Stone
> Mailing address:
> 248 Stone Building
> Department of Human Development and Family Studies
> PO Box 26170
> The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
> Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
> phone (336) 256-0131
> fax (336) 334-5076
> David Kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Sent by: email@example.com
> 11/16/2009 06:35 PM
> Please respond to
> "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> xmca <email@example.com>
> [xmca] Does "Obuchenie" Have Two Sides?
> I just got my copy of MCA and read through Mike's editorial on
> (re)translating "Interaction Between 'Obuchenie' and Development" again.
> It seems to me that there are really three quite separate issues here:
> a) What does the word mean in Russian? Is "teaching/learning" or
> "instructed learning" an adequate translation?
> b) What did Vygotsky mean by the word when he used it in his earlier
> writings (e.g. Educational Psychology, and possibly as late as Chapter
> Five of Thinking and Speech)? For example, is "the social environment of
> learning" referred to in Educational Psychology related to "the social
> situation of development" referred to in Volume Five of the Collected
> Works (the unfinished manuscript "Child Development")?
> c) Did Vygotsky mean the same thing by the word when he used it in his
> later writings, specifically "Interaction" and Chapter Six of Thinking and
> Speech? For example, is he serious when he suggests that complexes and
> complexive thinking should be "left at the schoolroom door"? If so, why
> does he refer to them as "preconcepts" and remark that a great deal of
> adult thinking is still on the complexive level?
> First of all, I agree with Mike that "teaching/learning" is no more
> adequate than "learning" or "teaching" on its own. Adorno remarks that the
> "/" punctuation mark has its only real legitimate use in indicating a
> caesura in poetry. It also suggests "either/or" in English, and clearly
> "teaching" OR "learning" is not a possible translation. Worse, the idea of
> "teaching/learning" as two sides of the same process suggests a metaphor
> with "borrow/lend" or "buy/sell" and this is quite explicitly ruled out in
> Vygotsky's remarks on Tolstoy's pedagogical notebooks.
> So either the slash implies that they are somehow the same phenomenon
> viewed from two different angles or it tends to built a wall where we need
> to build a bridge. A process is not like a bottle with an inside and an
> outside or a piece of paper with a recto and a verso. Even viewed
> temporally, it is not a machine with an input end and an output end. What
> goes for processes goes doubly for the relationship between two processes.
> I suggest, as a provisional measure, we use a hyphen instead,
> Secondly, I think we have to accept that when Vygotsky uses a word it
> means what he's paying it to mean and not anything else. Vygotsky
> eviscerates all kinds of words ("pseudoconcept", "egocentric speech",
> etc.) and reanimates them with completely new content; he plays with the
> words of other people the way that a child plays with his blocks, and as a
> result their meanings develop. So I doubt very much if either "learning"
> or "development" means what it means in the Large Psychological Dictionary
> Mike refers to. To pick up David Kirshner's request for assistance on the
> "Renaissance Man", Vygotsky clearly rejects the Thorndikean view that
> development is developing the ability to do lots of separate little
> skills; Vygotsky's "Renaissance Man" is a relentless synthesizer.
> So it seems very likely that the "social environment of learning" is a too
> literal, early, vulgar materialist interpretation of the "social situation
> of development" referring to the actual environment organized by the
> flesh-and-blood parent or teacher. The "social situation of development"
> is a rising to the concrete: instead of "classroom", "nursery", "home", we
> have "situations" constructed by particular ways in which the child uses
> language: indicative, nominative, and only at the conceptual level truly
> Thirdly, I think that the English language needs yet another translation
> of "Thinking and Speech", and this one needs to be thoroughly annotated,
> in order to explain exactly how Chapter Five and Chapter Six fit together
> on the issue of learning and development. My own belief is that by the
> time Vygotsky wrote Chapter Six he was trying desperately to deal with the
> very unfavorable Stakhanovite wind that had swept away the whole of the
> pedological career he had built up to 1931. Chapter Six, represents a
> great deal of trimming and tacking on his part. Alas, this includes some
> of his writing on the zone of proximal development, because the zone is
> presented as the answer to the evils of the pedologists who did not
> consider it when they allowed children to keep fiddling with syncretic
> thinking in preschools and playing around with complexes throughout
> elementary school.
> But when Vygotsky takes a step sideways, it is only in order to take a
> giant leap forward. The zone really is the hyphen in the middle of
> "teaching-learning", at least if we understand that hyphen as an arrow
> representing a meta-process and not as a single process, still less as a
> direct link. The zone of proximal development is to microgenesis and
> ontogenesis what "Origin of Species" is to ontogenesis and phylogenesis
> (or, perhaps more to the point, what Marx's "Capital" is to ontogenesis
> and sociocultural progress).
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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