Re: [xmca] Does Vygotsky Accept the "Assistance Assumption"?

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Mon Nov 27 2006 - 15:21:49 PST

I guess I would have to say that all three statements are misrepresentations
of LSV, in my view. Who they represent is another

I am not sure how to make collective headway from this starting point.
My own reading of the prior discussions on xmca is that there is no
concensus on the existence of any empirical evidence for
the existence of a zoped. The idea that learning depends upon assistance
from a more capable peer, as a general statement,
is absurd. And the insertion of "mysterious" into the third statement throws
gas on kerosene. There are some ways to think about
potential, but who introduced the mystery?
(being kicked off line for world of warcraft)

On 11/27/06, Kellogg <> wrote:
> Sorry to drag the discussion back to Chaiklin 2003 again, but on p. 270 of
> Lantolf and Thorne's 2006 "Sociocultural Theory and the Genesis of Second
> Language Development" (OUP), they summarize the three heterodox assumptions
> that Westerners often make when using the ZPD.
> For those who don't have immediate access to either source, these are:
> a) "generality" (the ZPD describes all learning and not just child
> development),
> b) "assistance" (learning depends on assistance from more capable
> individuals) and
> c) "potential" (there is some mysterious potential within the child
> awakened by the ZPD).
> Lantolf and Thorne accept that two of these three assumptions (viz, a and
> c) are not what Vygotsky had in mind, but they think that new formulations
> of the ZPD have proliferated, and not all of these are theoretically
> fatuous. (In particular, they make fairly extensive use of a in their
> discussion of adult second language learners, and of c in their discussion
> of private speech). But L &T appear to think that Vygotsky found b), the
> assistance assumption, uncontroversial (and thus uninteresting).
> I'm not so sure. Yes, Vygotsky does describe assistance in pretty clear
> terms, at least in his "testing" formulation of the ZPD (p. 86 of Mind in
> Society, of course). But they are also pretty off hand terms ("Different
> experimenters might employ different modes. Some might...some might...").
> Elsewhere LSV gives a number of examples of the ZPD which clearly do NOT
> imply assistance (e.g. imitation, play, the child's initiation into
> written language through drawing). At least not to me, they don't!
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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