Re: [xmca] zoped

From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Mon Mar 20 2006 - 05:47:35 PST

I have always liked Neil Mercer's thoughts on this:

"For a teacher to teach and a learner to learn, they must use talk
and joint activity to create a shared communicative space, an
'intermental development zone' (IDZ) on the contextual foundations of
their common knowledge and aims. In this intermental zone, which is
reconstituted constantly as the dialogue continues, the teacher and
learner negotiate their way through the activity in which they are
involved. If the quality of the zone is successfully maintained, the
teacher can enable a learner to become able to operate just beyond
their established capabilities, and to consolidate this experience as
new ability and understanding. If the dialogue fails to keep minds
mutually attuned, the IDZ collapses and the scaffolded learning
grinds to a halt" (which happened in a new language class I taught
just today).

As a teacher, I like Mercer's thoughts as they foreground
intersubjectivity, object-oriented activity, negotiated (and often
contested) goals, and development over learning. Just a bit more for
the pot. Must read Bill's paper now.


[autogenerated style] Mercer N (2000) Words and Minds: How we use
language to think together. London: Routledge

On 20/03/2006, at 11:06 AM, Cunningham, Donald James wrote:

> Since I sometimes play the role of "word police", could I ask about
> the zone of proximal development?
> It seems to me that the term is often used to characterize any
> interaction between a teacher and a student. That would be a pretty
> vacuous use, not in keeping with Vygotsky's basic insight, IMHO. As
> the page of exemplary zopeds is being built, could we talk about
> the criteria for determining whether something qualifies? Did
> Socrates create a zoped with (I assume you create one with not for)
> the slave boy? Did Jesus (or Mohammad or whoever) create a zoped?
> How about the teacher in "Dead Poet Society"? The former coach at
> Indiana University, Bob Knight?
> Just wondering........djc
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