Re: [xmca] Re: And Franklin??

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (
Date: Wed May 31 2006 - 12:32:17 PDT

What I meant is that social relationships of equality and partnership in
joint construction of the subject-matter of pretend (or imagination) are
a condition for entering into play worlds -- without establishing these
kinds of relationships, play worlds are almost impossible to develop --
they either never get off the ground or they are hard to sustain, to
develop further and they easily break up. The reason I said "built in"
is because if you already have a play world, that means you had to do a
lot of social coordination on the "fringes" of the play world in order
to establish it... I did not mean anything more than that.
Now, I am not aware that this comes directly from Vygotsky. The
awareness of the need to create, what I call an "inner group" -- comes
more from my own work, probably, than from anything I read.

Carol Macdonald wrote:
> 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
> Carol
> 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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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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