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[Xmca-l] Re: Crises and stages/ages

Sticking to child development for the moment .... a child is born physically, biologically, emotionally, psychologically, intellectually and socially dependent on their family (or whomever). In something like 90% of cases, by the time they're in their 20s, they are working, voting, householders in their own right. No matter how many people never get a job, raise a family or learn to tell the difference between a used car salesman and a statesman, this process is normal, the passage through a series of culturally defined social positions in which the given individual more or less adequately fulfils the social expectations.
*Andy Blunden*

Huw Lloyd wrote:
So new social positions are an inadequate index of development due to the
prevalence of 'pathological development'.

I agree that 'it is always situational'.  The complexity in this is that
reflexivity is part of that situation.  E.g. in which particular
situational episode does a child 'gain' 'object permanence'?  And in which
particular situation does a child discover that a game can be made out of
fixed rules, rather than arbitrarily imagined ones that are subject to


On 20 March 2015 at 02:46, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

Ha, ha! Huw, I had never heard of "the Peer Principle" before, but now
I've read up on it, it very accurately describes what I have witnessed in a
life time in universities! :)
But the promotion of people to "their level of incompetence" (something
Australia as a nation is going through at the moment!) is a *pathology* of
development. The converse pathology is a child who is continued to be
treated as a child long after they have outgrown childhood, or staff who
massively over-perform their role, but due to extraneous reasons, never get
promoted or leave in search of a better position.
While the idea of development vs learning does connote ideas of
qualitative and quantitative change, I do not believe these abstractions
provide a rational understanding of human development.
The main thing is that it is always situational.

*Andy Blunden*

Huw Lloyd wrote:

That 'change in social situation' interpretation does crop up quite
frequently.  But for me it is inadequate and misleading.  Particularly
phenomena described by the Peter principle.

For me, development as a distinction from the broader notion of learning
simply the accommodation of genuine generalisations affording greater
reflexivity.  This will, by virtue of the qualitative change, result in a
different social situation.

Rote and mere factual learning can theoretically actually lead to less
capacity for adaptation, so Simon may have a particular idea in mind.

Incidentally, I tend to pair that text of Simon's with Vicker's 'Art of
Judgement'.  Some good, more indirect, thinking there too.


On 20 March 2015 at 01:47, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

The distinction I use, Mike, is that in development, not only does a
person's activity change, but also that of those in their social
surroundings so that the person occupies a new social position or role.
Learning is change, without change in your social position. In "Problem
Age" Vygotsky formulates this in terms of change from being an "infant"
"early childhood" or from "early childhood" to being a "pre-school
etc. Development is a social relation, involving both characteristics of
the person and of their environment.

*Andy Blunden*

mike cole wrote:

After sending the note below I encountered the following definition of
learning in Simon's
*Sciences of the artificial* which I am reading with respect to other
(related) matters.

*Learning is any change in a system that produces a more or less
change in its capacity for adapting to the environment.*

The word, development, does not appear in this book.

Seems relevant to many long standing discussions of learning and
development in this discourse space.


On Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 5:14 PM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

David ---
Picking on just one thread from your multiplex comments in the context
the discussion on printing presses and digital computer
​technologies, i would like to thank you for juxtaposing these​ two
paragraphs, one from LSV on crises in development, the other
from Leontiev. I have made a separate header because I am not agile or
learned enough to keep track of both at the same time,
the ontogenetic level of analysis is plenty enough for me to try to
systematically about in a single message..

\Vygotsky, (could you give pages in current English version so we enter
the relevant portion of the text?):

These ages (i.e. stable ages--DK) and this type of child development
been studied more completely than ages characterized by a different
of child development (i.e.the crisis--DK). These latter were discovered
empirical paths, one by one, in a haphazard manner, and many have still
been shown by the majority of investigators in systems and are not
in the general periodization of child development. Many authors have
doubted the evidence of the inner necessity of their existence. Many
inclined to take them more as “maladies” of development, as deviations
the process fromthe normal path, than as internally necessary periods
child development. Almost none of the bourgeois investigators have
their theoretical signfiicance, and the attempt in our book at their
systematization, at their theoretical interpretation, and at their
inclusion in the general scheme of child development for this reason
be seen as perhaps the first attempt of this kind."


  “These crises—the three year old crisis, the seven year old crisis,
adolescent crisis, the youth crisis—are always associated with a change
stage. They indicate in clear, obvious form that these changes, these
transitions from one stage to another have an inner necessity of their
own. The existence of development of crises has long been known and
‘classic’ interpretation is that they are caused by the child’s
inner characteristics and the contradictions that arise on that soil
between it andthe environment. From the standpoint of that
the crises are, of course, inevitable, because these contradictions are
inevitable in any conditions. There is nothing more false, however, in
theory of the development of the child’s psyche than this idea. In
crises are not at all inevitable accomplishments of psychic
is not the crises which are inevitable, but the turning points or
the qualitative shifts in development. The crisis, on the contrary, is
evidence that a turning point or shift has not been made in time. There
need by no crises at all if the child’s psychic development does not
shape spontaneously but in a rationally controlled process, controlled
upbringing.”  (pp. 398-399)

Leontiev, A.N. (1981). Problems of the Development of the Mind.

​I take the red​ text to be the crux of the argument, and the kind of
difference we see in the two men's articles
about the "problem of the environment."

In American developmental psychology the issue of continuities and
discontinuities in ontogenetic development
continues today the discussion taking place in the 1920's and 1930's.
I have never seen anyone argue that (say) the syndrome
of behaviors identified as "the terrible twos" occurs because a turning
point has not happened in time, nor that ontogeny is rendered
rational control of parents/society. That, it seems, is the red thread
Stalinism that is so offputting in ANL.

I do not love LSV's characterization of non-Soviet psychologists
such periods "as deviations of the process from the normal path." I am
not sure who he is referring to, and perhaps he is right and I just
dig deeper into the history of European and American developmental
psychology. Piaget and Erikson,  two Europeans whose work was
from the 1950/60's don't, at least on the surface, fit this discussion.
Maybe they do below the surface, or there are other, allied issue to

Several years ago we (you and I and Andy and others) sought to
characterize LSV's developmental theory but could not reach agreement.
Perhaps it is worth another try.


It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an
object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.