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RE: [xmca] Play: A Really Useful Way to Turn Kids into Cops

There was a link to a pdf version faithful to the original; I'm attaching a copy. p

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of David Kellogg
Sent: Sunday, December 18, 2011 8:49 PM
To: lchcmike@gmail.com; Culture ActivityeXtended Mind
Subject: 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.  
David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

--- On Sun, 12/18/11, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Play: A Really Useful Way to Turn Kids into Cops
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
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 fuller picture of what it is about. It was new to me and I suspect, to others as well.

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 Stalinist society.

>From the book itself, it is difficult to date the articles or to link 
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 copy.

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 blown 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 <vaughndogblack@yahoo.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 other).
> 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
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