Re: [xmca] Empirical Support for the ZPD?

From: Kellogg (
Date: Mon Oct 16 2006 - 18:11:41 PDT

Dear Em:

I agree that the crux of the problem is the relationship of learning to development.

The problem is that if you say that learning does not take place outside the ZPD, it appears that learning and development are the same thing after all. So there is no relationship between the two things, simply because there are not two things, but only one.

I agree in theory that development never ends (and that death is, at least in evolutionary terms, a form of development). But that is only true from the point of view of evolution. From the point of view of ontogenesis, death most certainly is the end.

Language development too comes to a virtual halt, at least in terms of grammatical learning. This is not only true of my learning of a foreign language; it is even more true of my mastery of my own language.

I think that Vygotsky did not end his work with child development, or even begin there. He really wanted to link FOUR things: evolution, sociocultural history, child development, and learning. He considered that Darwin and Marx had more or less provided a theory that explained and even linked the first two.

He probably initially thought that people like Bekhterev, or Kornilov, or later Piaget could account well enough for the third, and he really dreamed of devoting his whole short life to teaching and learning.

But I think he soon found that the psychology of the time was profoundly non-developmental and quite inadequate to provide a foundation for the description of teaching and learning. So instead of becoming the Marx of microgenesis, he had to transform himself into the Darwin of ontogenesis. And that is OUR tragedy--because today we still have that huge gap when it comes to understanding the specific link between ontogenesis and microgenesis.

It won't do to say that microgenesis is really the same thing as ontogenesis. That's essentially what Piaget said, and that's what got LSV started.

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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