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Re: [xmca] Play: A Really Useful Way to Turn Kids into Cops
Don't bother scanning it. It's right HERE:
Anna and I have been having a very sobering discussion of this material off list (she knew Leontiev, and her critiques of his work, although not quite the same as mine, have been far more knowing and thorough).
Anna's view--well worth pondering--is that Leontiev really WAS part of the collective, and that he played the role of the grain of sand in the oyster more than once. I think that some of his contributions are not exactly pearls (e.g. his Lysenkoism, which is simply a mask that grew into his face).
But Elkonin's work on play (which I think unfortunately includes the "leading activity" idea) has a certain lustre, and there is no doubt in my mind that Leontiev had a big influence here.
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
--- On Sun, 12/18/11, mike cole <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
From: mike cole <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Play: A Really Useful Way to Turn Kids into Cops
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sunday, December 18, 2011, 3:36 PM
David et al-
I have waited to comment on the summary of Leontiev's talks in that book on
Soviet Psychology until I could get a look at the book. It took a while,
but we still have interlibrary loan and it arrived yesterday.
Very painful reading. Not just Leontiev, but all of it.
I will try to scan the book tomorrow and post it so that people can get a
picture of what it is about. It was new to me and I suspect, to others as
It seems useful to me to consider the entire book within the context of
Phillip's statement a few weeks ago. Roughly, he said that CHAT could be
used either in support of a society that adopted values concerning a just
society expressed on xmca or in the service of the fascist state. And, as
David's report on the Leontiev paper, "The Present tasks of Soviet
Psychology" makes clear, it could also be used in the service of a
>From the book itself, it is difficult to date the articles or to link them
to a particular occasion. The book was published in 1961 and came from East
Germany. From the introductory material by Hans Hiebsch, an East German
psychologist, it appears to have followed the "Victory of Lysenko in August
1948." It appeared in "Soviet Pedagogy" in Number 1, 1949. I do not have a
Perhaps Anton or someone with the right historical know how can provide
additional publications and information.
I find this very painful reading. As David says, Leontiev is not writing in
the tone of
someone who has a gun held to his head. More, he sounds like Winston at the
end of *1984* getting sloshed in the local pub mouthing the party line. On
what stage in what play was he acting at the time?
Amazing that those psychologists who survived this period in the USSR were
able to re-cover and then re-cover and re-cover again the horrendous
ravages of Stalinism sufficiently to put together that International
Congress in 1966 which
raised psychology from a department in the philosophical faculty to a full
department at MGU and then elsewhere.
On the way home with the book yesterday, I heard Newt Gingrich talking
sound bites. He was pushing this brave new idea. All those federally
appointed judges who turn out to be un-American should be removed from the
judiciary. Meanwhile Putin was on Russian TV likening the white ribbons of
the people demonstrating against his fraudulent command and control
capitalism to condoms.
A chilling introduction to ANL in 1949 that greeted me yesterday evening
when I opened that little book.
On Sat, Dec 10, 2011 at 6:10 PM, David Kellogg <email@example.com>wrote:
> I have been reading, inter alia, "Soviet Psychology: A symposium" (1961,
> Vision: London). It is mostly about Soviet criticisms of the "Two Factor"
> theory (Gesell's idea that child development could be explained,
> ultimately, by reference to heredity on the one hand and environment on the
> However, there are two articles by A. N. Leontiev. The first one I have
> read before in an edited version; it is his defense of Lysenko. But the
> first version I saw read like a confession elicited with a gun to his head.
> In THIS version he is the one with gun.
> "Darwin inaugurated the scientific treatment of these problems. He was
> interested in the importance of instinct in the life of the species and
> reached the realization that the development of the species can only be
> understood by assuming the inheritability of the changes made under the
> influence of new conditions of life that did not correspond to the existing
> instincts." (p. 32)
> (Really? I thought that was Lamarck. Silly me!)
> "The theories of Morgan, Weissmann and Mendel were much quoted and applied
> in the Soviet Union until the Central Committe of the Soviet Union passed
> the resolution of July 4, 1936. this resolution which condemned paedology,
> i.e. the science of the special psychology of the child, also put an end to
> the 'two factor theory' which proclaimed the equal role of heredity
> and environment....' (p. 33)
> (No kidding? I thought it put an end to Vygotsky and cultural historical
> psychology for the next twenty years.)
> "It is even assumed that the most important needs and emotions are
> immutable in man--as is emphasized by John Dewey." (p. 35)
> (Imagine that! Now where exactly does Dewey say this?)
> On p. 44 we learn that paedology is based on bourgeois theories which
> "deny the formative character of education" because they imagine
> development is based only on the natural abilities of children.
> (Surely we are talking about an extreme form of behaviorism?)
> On p. 40 we learn that all attempts to periodize child development are
> "essentially paedological" and thus "pseudo-scientific". "The solution of
> this problem was made possible by the investigations, already mentioned, of
> individual mental processes in the child and by studies of the development
> of various kinds of child activities--play, learning, work."
> (At least Leontiev recognizes that children play and that play has some
> kind of formative quality, though of course we mustn't imagine for a single
> moment that play is based on the natural abilities of chldren. Right?)
> Not quite. Here is what Leontiev says in "The Intellectual Development of
> the Child".
> "Creative play is, as a rule, collective. As the roles are distributed,
> certain definite relations are created between the children which condition
> their behavior towards each other. The accepted role determines the child's
> behavior. 'The daughter' 'must obey 'the mother'; 'the mother' must be
> loving; 'the policeman' strict but courteous. We must not forget that the
> main thing for the children in these games is action and in particular an
> action which comes closest to reality. The children always take seriously
> the content of the actions performed in the play. Therefore, a remark
> thrown in incidentally is sufficient to direct the behavior of the playing
> child. it is enough to say, for example: 'Does it really happen that a
> policeman on duty is uncourteous?', and the quarrel among the playing
> children subsides." (p. 63).
> Notice how ANL transmogrifies the collective activity into a kind of
> animate subject ('"the roles are distributed", "certain definite relations
> are created", the "accepted" role determines the child's behavior). The
> child has a purely passive role, but never mind: the environment more than
> makes up the deficit, assuming the active role of a kind of superhero, or
> super-nanny, or super-cop.
> Play is a really useful way to turn kids into cops. No wonder Gunilla
> Lindqvist hated this stuff.
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studiees
> xmca mailing list
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