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

From: Carol Macdonald (
Date: Mon Nov 27 2006 - 22:51:06 PST

I know these three interpretations, but I think it is safest to go with (a)
*Mind in Society.* I have read elsewhere in an article on the net, that why
LSV was so offhand there, was because that form of testing was the standard
practice at the time, and so he didn't have to elaborate, because his
audience would know to what he was referring. But the "buds and flowers"
quote does seem to suggest (c) as well. That's been taken up in a big way by
Feuerstein in Dynamic Assessment.

(b) is just ludicrous. The mediator might for example be the computer, but
we try through trial and error to use a range of functions on Word. That is
but one of countless examples.

For what it's worth

On 11/28/06, 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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