Re: [xmca] Did Franklin Participate in a Zoped?

From: Althea Scott Nixon (
Date: Mon May 29 2006 - 11:16:43 PDT

Hi everyone,

We recently read and discussed these pieces on zopeds with Mike in
Kris Gutierrez's class at UCLA. One part that particularly interested
me was Chaiklin's description of the "Generality Assumption", on pp.
42-43 of his article. Chaiklin argues that the zone of proximal
development should not be used with all types of learning. He writes,
"Vygotsky (1987) distinguishes instruction aimed 'toward [the child's]
full development from instruction in specialized, technical skills
such as typing or riding a bicycle' (p. 212). In short, zone of
proximal development is not concerned with the development of skill of
any particular task" (p. 43).

I read Paley's piece on Franklin and tried to apply Chaiklin's
criteria for zopeds to her description of the use of pretend play to
help Franklin interact with his peers in the block corner. Through
pretend play, Franklin learned how to listen to and cooperate with the
other children in the block corner. I wondered if we would talk about
Franklin's experiences as learning or development or both? If
learning precedes development, then for Franklin to learn new skills
for playing with others in block corner could lead to the development
and restructuring of social relations in how he sees himself as a peer
in this classroom. I think in Paley's example, we can look at how
play promotes zopeds with both the learning of these skills and the
development of higher psychological functions.

Yet for me to make that argument, I may be defining learning and
development differently than how Chaiklin was defining it for his
argument against the generality assumption. Perhaps my description of
learning skills for listening to and cooperating with others isn't the
same type of (manual) learning that Chaiklin was refering to. Mike
asked me to return to Vygotsky's (1978) chapter on learning and
development in Mind in Society to see how Vygotsky defined learning
and development. Lo and behold, Mike asked me a trick question. :)
There is no explicit definition for learning or development in that
chapter—just an explanation of the relationship between the two. Mike
then told me to check for definitions in the seven volumes of
Vygotsky's collected works, which I have yet to do… :) But in the
meantime, I decided to take the plunge and "go global" by briefly
posting my initial thoughts on these zoped readings to the larger
community. Thanks!


On 5/21/06, Mike Cole <> wrote:
> Dear Colleagues--
> There have been a few articles on the concept of zone of proximal
> development posted at XMCA for a while, but despite initial interest there
> appears to have been no discussion of the papers. It may be that interest
> has waned or that end-of-academic-year business interferes.
> On the hypothesis that there is some interest but little time, let me
> propose an entering point that people could engage without it requiring too
> much time.
> On the webpage is a brief chapter by Vivian Paley describing a 4 year old's
> play and its difficulties. Paley engages in play pedagogy.
> I believe that she creates a zone of proximal development in the way she
> organizes the interactions between Franklin, herself, and
> other children with respect to play in the block area.
> At the same time, I am unsure that this examples would qualify as a
> legitimate examples of a zoped according to the criteria in
> Seth's paper on Vygotsky's concept of zone of proximal development. Is there
> any development manifested? Are the changes
> in Franklin's behavior only learning?
> More generally, can any example of play behavior be indicative of development
> according to Seth's explication of Vygotsky?
> If the answer to the second question is NO, then we should conclude that LSV
> was wrong in believing that play can create a zoped.
> Franklin is my best example (better than using McCarthy's 1930's data used
> by LSV, I believe) that development does occur
> in Paley's example. But I am very uncertain the example meets the criteria
> laid out by Seth on LSV's behalf.
> What do you-all think?? (to paraphrase Eugene)
> De la belle France.
> mike
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Althea Scott Nixon
1022A Moore Hall
University of California, Los Angeles
Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1521
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