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

Mmm, thanks David.
I stand my position in making the social situations of development the unit of analysis for child development. "Cause" is a problematic concept, but with an appropriate unit, it can work. Critical development *will* take place on two conditions: (1) the child's perception of its own needs have outgrown the existing relationships and role, and (2) those in the child's environment are prepared to go along with (at least) the development. That gives a very significant causal role to the neoformation (which as a medical term I take to have a largely internal referent), but is not a sufficient cause. And even then, (1) is a relational condition.

Also, I wonder if I could offer an apologia for Leontyev. As the recently deceased former Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Fraser, famously said: "Life wasn't meant to be easy." I think this is profoundly true and so did Vygotsky, but as Fraser discovered, it is a very difficult thing for a political leader to say, and I think also for a child psychologist. But of course, it is true. But the child is only half of the turbulence that breaks out when the child sets out to change its position in the family in the only way they know. The political atmosphere had turned decisively away from the idea that child rebelling against their parents was a good thing. Whereas Vygotsky said: "People with great passions, people who accomplish great deeds, people who possess strong feelings, even people with great minds and a strong personality, rarely come out of good little boys and girls." Not the sort of thing the Soviet leaders wanted to hear any more!


*Andy Blunden*

David Kellogg wrote:
What we're translating here in Korea is the second half of the manuscript
published by Galina Serpionovna Korotaeva in the Department of German
Philology at the Udmurt University in Izhevsk in 2001. It's available in
Russian on the Vygotsky Internet Archive as the second part of  Лекции по
1935. We published the first part of this book in Korean in January:


The second part (on Crises and Stable Periods) should be ready in January

The Korotaeva manuscript hasn't been translated into any language, but
there are parts of it in Volume Five of the English Collected Works Volume
Five, and the passage that I quoted can be found, more or less, on p. 191.

Unfortunately, that's not true for much of the manuscript.

Кризис 3 и 7 дет

(The Crisis at Three and the Crisis at Seven)

Негативная фаза переходного возраста

(Negative Phases of the Transitional Age)

 Школьный возраст .

(School Age)

 Мышление школьника

(Thinking in the School Child)
As you can see, this isn't in the Collected Works at all, so as Mike says
it's well worth revisiting the discussion.

But I can think of three non-textological reasons for revisiting this

a) Almost ALL of the interpretations of the zone of proximal development
used in the West are non-critical--that is, they see "development" as a
kind of improved way of adapting to the environment. But even a cursory
reading of this manuscript makes it clear that is not what Vygotsky means
when he speaks of development (even if we didn't know this already from the
emphasis on the development of free will in HDHMF).

b) Andy's interpretation of the text in Volume Five overemphasizes the
social situation of development, and for this reason does not provide an
adequate explanation of the CAUSES of the crisis (which in my view are not
caused by the environment directly. Even my own critique of Andy's
interpretation at the time underemphasized the intrinsic side of
neoformations; it falls into the kinds of developmental schemata that
Vygotsky calls "eclectic" here (I used a basket of verbal, mental, and
material processes without bothering to find some intrinsic link between

c) There are also issues which Vygotsky himself does not appear to resolve,
for example, the nature of CRITICAL neoformations. These cannot be entirely
negative--that is, "neo-disformations", because they do not entirely
disappear in the subsequent age. But what are they?

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

PS, for those who are not sticking to the one screen rule: I think that
when Vygotsky criticizes "bourgeois psychologists", he is simply using his
usual tactic of naming a distant target in order to avoid naming names
close to home (this is why he is so very eloquent on the subject of Watson
and Thorndike and has so little to say against Pavlov and Bekhterev).

On the one hand, Mike is right when he says that Western psychologists, and
in particular pedologists, were all talking about the crises. In fact a lot
of this chapter  consists of polemics against their periodizations of the
crisis: Binet's, Stratz's, Stern's, Buhler's and Busemann's.

Here's an abstract of the Busemann paper that Vygotsky critiques:

Die Erregungsphasen der Jugend. / The excitation phases of youth.

Busemann, A.

Zeitschrift für Kinderforschung, Vol 33, 1927, 115-137.


The author takes as his text the thesis of Siegert (Die Periodizität in der
Entwicklung der Kindesnatur, 1891) that children develop not according to a
smooth upward curve of physical and mental progress, but rather by an
irregular course of "favorable and unfavorable phases," so that the
impression of periodicity is given. In a careful review of recent European
work, including a few of the older studies in English, the author finds
striking evidence of critical phases in the development of children. Among
the experimental studies reported are Busemann's own contributions in the
field of early speech development and of moral judgments. The article
serves as an historical background and field of enlargement to them. The
critical phases or periods of excitation the writer places roughly at ages
3, 6, 9, 12 or 13, 16 or 17, and perhaps at 19 or 20. The Binet tests do
not show the variations in response at the critical ages as do some other
intelligence tests, probably, the author believes, because they are
constructed in such a way as to take account of these variations in rate of
psychological development. Country children reach the successive excitation
crises somewhat later than city children. A theory of physiological and
psychological phase and counterphase is advanced in explanation of the
developmental rhythm: the progress of development proceeds until in the
emotional-subjective sphere a supernormal phase occurs. The passing of a
certain high point in this sphere then releases or stimulates a
compensatory development in the intentional-objective sphere. The apparent
correlation between the appearance of the excitation phases and rapidity in
anatomical growth lends evidence in favor of a structural basis for the
observed behavior phenomena. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all
rights reserved).

On the other, there were a lot of SOVIET pedologists who did not believe in
the crisis (including Vygotsky's friend Blonsky, and, as we've seen,
Leontiev). Actually, they are still at it. Look at this:

 “...(G)iving more freedom to adolescents in making their own choices over
minor issues could substantially reduce the frequency of their conflicts
with parents. Even when dealing with more serious issues, a parent saying
‘I’m older than you and your elder, so do what i say’ does not seem to be
an effective strategy (Larson & Richards, 1994, p. 140). Rather than that,
to both reach an acceptable solution and avoid excessive conflicts with
adolescents, parents should reason with them on disputable issues, which is
now possible because of their children’s new formal-logical abilities
(Larson & Richards, 1994). On the basis of the discussion above, it would
be reasonable to suggest that conflicts between adolescents and their
parents are heavily determined by parent-adolescent styles of interaction;
that is, they are anything but inevitable.” (pp. 226-227)

Karpov, Y.V. (2005). The Neo-Vygotskyan Approach to Child Development.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


On 21 March 2015 at 04:41, David H Kirshner <dkirsh@lsu.edu> wrote:

Andy, you're slurring your spelling.

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2015 9:50 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Crises and stages/ages

Oops! "Peter Principle" not "Peer Principle"