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Re: http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/cartoons/

Michael Glassman wrote:

In sum, the main features of the analysis of zone of proximal development are: (a) whole child

Something a lot of people agree on, for what it's worth.  The whole parts to whole thing which came from Hegel and his vision of an organic whole that is developing or progressing towards a more adaptive existence (tele
I think this is a great strenth to Vygotsky's views on development. At least in the U.S. we continously talk of emotional, social, cognitive, and moral development.

(b) internal structure (i.e., relationships between psychological functions),

Here is where I start to have trouble with this view.  Once you set up an internal structure that is basically the relationship between psychological functions it seems to me you are doing two things.  1) You are setting up an inescapable dualism trap in which there is a qualitative difference between what is inside the head (even if it is only functional) and what is going on out in the world.  You can talk about unity all you want, but I think enough thinkers have shown that there is really know way out of this once you have set up the internal structure as a thing in and of itself, whether it is malleable or not (from reading Chaiklin's chapter it seems to me he wants to escape this by making this functional apparatus malleable to social circumstances).  2) You are setting up the child as an organism that acts on the world, rather than acting with in the world (one point of reference among many).  I go back to what I originally wrote, that this to me represents self action with all its inherent difficulties.  But more important, much of Vygotsky's other writing suggests to me at least that this was not where he wanted to go with his theory.
I would argue there is more consistency in the view above with his other work than not. What is interesting to me, and maybe it is the transactive world view is if you pretend something does not exist, it doesn't. Psychological functions exist if we believe in them or not. What you are saying is we'll leave that issue to biological determanist to solve, I find that view unacceptable.

(c) development as a qualitative change in the structural relationships,

And more importantly the social situations of development that serve as the motive context for such qualatative change.

(e) each age period has a leading activity/contradiction that organizes the child's actions (within which subjective interests are operating) and which contributes to the development of the new functions.
This part to me is the most troublesome.  It sets Vygotsky up as a stage theorist, which in a sense is falling in to another trap which is to make Vygotsky's theory actually more American mainstream than it already is.

I am less concerned with what I want Vygotsky to be than what he was. Vygotsky's book on Child Development had a stage like emphasis. Even his work on concept development is organized in a stage like way. I think reading Vygotsky with Dewey glasses on may give one a different outlook. To be honest, I'm not really much of a developmentalist. My main objective is examine "interpretations" of the ZPD, and then measure it against Vygotsky's own ideas in the context of his over all theory of child development.

Just a couple of other things.  Aren't all theories explanatory?  Isn't that why they're theories?
I would say most are descriptive. They describe the social world, but that is about it.
Don't pretty much all theories today see the social situation as awakening future development?
Well we first would have to agree on what development is. For some culture, development, learning etc are interchangable. For others it is simply change over time within the individual. For others, it is qualatative changes that reorganize internal (psychological functions) or external (Activity) entities.

I really would like to hear a transactive argument to Vygotsky? Which works in particular were you thinking of?


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"The zone of proximal development defines those functions that have not yet matured but are in the process of maturation, functions that will mature tomorrow but are currently in an embryonic state. These functions could be termed the buds or flowers of development rather than
the "fruits" of development. The actual developmental level characterizes mental development retrospectively, while the zone of proximal development characterizes mental development prospectively."
- L.S.V.