Re: [xmca] Re: And Franklin??

From: Carol Macdonald (
Date: Wed May 31 2006 - 09:58:01 PDT

Ana, I thought what you wrote was pure gold, and read it with great
interest, until I got stuck on the very last sentence. "...the social
aspects of learning built in by default". Do uou mean that this comes from
a natural line in LSV's theory? You didn't make this attribution of pretend
play per se, so I am wondering what precisely you meant there.
Hope you can help

On 5/31/06, Ana Marjanovic-Shane <> wrote:
> Mike and all,
> The "Franklin" example is really a great example of the zone of proximal
> development is several ways.
> First and very important: it show us that learning (even in the sense of
> merely becoming aware of a content of learning) cannot take place in any
> type of interaction with anybody and in any type of a situation. This is
> especially true for learning social relationships and self-awareness. As
> we see from the example, Franklin had repeated experiences of
> unsuccessful play in the block corner -- and he did not "learn" anything
> from them. The teacher (V. Paley) who observed his interaction in the
> block corner, first tried to make him realize what he was doing to the
> other children through talking to him, but he did not "listen", or learn
> (demonstrate that he did hear and thought about it) anything from the
> conversation.
> Why was pretend-play so successful? And how is this an example of the
> "zone of proximal development".
> It seems that for this type of learning, just understanding the "issue"
> or even letting your self to see the issue, cannot happen in a direct
> observation and often not even in a direct statement from the others.
> Self awareness and self perception are probably among the most touchy,
> emotional subjects of attention, especially if one feels in opposition
> to the others. It is very hard to make a distinction between social
> relationships as a "subject" of conversation and the actual social
> relationships of the conversation. That is why talking about who did
> what to whom, and what does one think about another, is so difficult
> even for the adults and for whole social groups: it often leads to
> further perpetuating the same type of behavior and to calcifying same
> oppositional relationships, and most often leaves the self in the blind
> spot.
> OK,
> There are two processes going on when the teacher in V. Paley's example
> puts on a play to "show" Franklin how he looks like to other kids and
> why his behavior was so hard on them.
> First, she creates a cooperative community for the activity of
> generating a make-believe play. The relationships between the members in
> that community are relationships of joint trust and friendship --
> necessary for building a play together. Therefore -- they are
> non-oppositional, non-judgmental and inviting. This is like inviting
> someone into a membership of a "secret society" -- you become "one of
> us". That is a pre-condition to introducing the subject-matter which is
> in any way problematic, hard, and potentially threatening to the image
> of the self. In other words -- this kind of relationship is a necessary
> condition for reorganizing relationships between existing psychological
> functions -- always a potentially threatening loss of the existing
> "self".
> The second activity is the actual play that the teacher creates with
> children -- a play which portrays Franklin as he is seen by the others.
> By creating a play, she succeeds in refocusing Franklin from his
> preoccupation with a perfect block-structure to seeing his social
> interactions. V. Paley says something very important: "'Pretend' disarms
> and enchants: it suggests heroic possibilities for making changes..." --
> Creating a pretend play "disarms" -- because it is a cooperative
> activity of building together -- a person is put in a position of an
> equal partner, even better, an esteemed partner. Second, the world of
> "pretend" lets you "see" into it in a different way than the world of
> direct engagement because you have a control to stop it, to start it, to
> change it. More importantly, it is a joint construction ABOUT another
> world ("reality"), while at the same time not being it. -- Therefore it
> contains a POINT OF VIEW which is being communicated within the
> community of players and by the community of players to everyone else.
> This characteristics of the pretend play -- its directionality, the fact
> that by constructing it one must have a point of view, one must throw a
> particular light on something from "reality", that is what makes pretend
> play the prime zone of construction -- i.e. reconstruction of the
> psychological functions and their relationships. It is the addition of
> the reflexive perspective that gives one control over and the awareness
> of psychological processes.
> Franklin, therefore, is enticed and involved into focusing on his own
> social relationships and how they affect the other children. The teacher
> used Franklin's strongest and most developed psychological function and
> need: to create the works of art -- and gave him different "blocks" to
> build with -- blocks made of pretend play relationships instead of wood.
> Once he sees his task as being a builder of social relationships instead
> of building blocks -- he is able to fully focus on changing his own
> perspectives.
> We usually associate zone of proximal development with the academic
> learning -- science and math concepts, knowledge of geography, history,
> other languages etc. This example shows us (like Vygotsky's example of
> the two sisters who played to be "sisters") the other side of learning
> and instruction -- social learning and construction of self. However, I
> think the two are not only related but involve the same processes --
> with a little bit different "accent" in the subject-matter. Pretend play
> is a very important method in learning and developing the self and it's
> social relationships. And imagination is absolutely necessary for
> learning academic subjects. Play and imagination are intrinsically
> related types of activities. In Vygotsky's opinion, imagination is
> nothing but play without action! Therefore, as teachers, we still have
> to construct "pretend play" type of activities when teaching anything.
> What comes across as especially important from this example, is the
> atmosphere of joint building, of trust and equality which are
> prerequisites both for play and for joint imagination. In that sense, I
> think it is useful to say that "pretend play" activity either
> presupposes or carries in itself a quality of egalitarianism in the
> relationships between the participants, a quality of relationships which
> are also a prerequisite of any learning. Being able to take the
> teacher's (or anybody's) critique not as a confrontational,
> self-denigrating act, but as an invite to change perspectives and see
> new aspects in the shared topic, is a prerequisite of meaningful
> learning and development. Pretend play is a "natural" -- an activity
> with these social interactional aspects of learning built-in by default.
> Ana
> Mike Cole wrote:
> > Ana-- And Franklin? Does the idea of zoped apply to that play example?
> > or not?
> > mike
> --
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Ana Marjanovic'-Shane,Ph.D.
> 151 W. Tulpehocken St.
> Philadelphia, PA 19144
> Home office: (215) 843-2909
> Mobile: (267) 334-2905
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