[xmca] Attack Agency?

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at yahoo.com>
Date: Mon Nov 19 2007 - 10:25:39 PST

  I want to clarify that I wasn't attacking the notion of agent or agency, per se, rather the attribution of "agency" to the supposedly isolable individual subject (biologically prepared at birth to ?agentize?) that is really a secret agent lurking in many interpretations of Vygotsky although that seems completely antithetical to my meagre knowledge of Vygotsky. But then, isn't it true that erudition and understanding are different.
  Of course the words "agent" and "agency" refer to something.
  there are indivdual agents, such as: real estate agents, travel agents, insurance agents, etc. But it seems that this usage always refers to what traditional sociology calls "roles" On a completely collective level there are agents for social change such as worker's unionns or civil rights organization and probably others I can't think of right now
  But as long as the long-term perspective of human evolution/history, which is the dimension of the C in CHAT, isn't always in the background of our understanding of the human individual and as long the the H in CHAT plays absolutely no part in the theorization, it's not clear to me how a new step in understanding of the A in the theory can ever take place.
  Mike Cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
  Emily-- I thought the point of David's comment about one on one kinds of
zopeds was that they were insufficient, not that he was advocating such

It is Adrian Cussins who uses the footpath metaphor and I thought it
problematic for some of the same reasons expressed in this thread.

No agency? No Burkian Pentad?
Not even a *secret* agent?
what replaces such exciting stuff?
ps-- no idea about the problem with reaching the streamed discussion, Eric.
Checking on it.

On Nov 18, 2007 8:11 PM, David Kellogg wrote:

> You didn't miss much, Mike! Paul attacked the use of the word "agency",
> and nobody was willing to defend it.
> Let's try a new direction instead. On Saturday, as it happens, I went to
> hear Professor Bachman, who signed the rejection letter you got for the AERA
> mini-course. He's an assessment wallah in language teaching, and he gave one
> of these airport talks that can be given to anyone and no one on any day of
> the week in any city on earth (a pity, because we just had a very high
> stakes college entrance exam here in Korea, always accompanied by at least
> one suicide).
> In the discussion, I tried to extend his idea of "generalizeability" (that
> is, the idea that test results are predictive in some way of behavior
> outside of the test taking) to the FUTURE--dynamic assessment, of course!
> Professor Bachman couldn't see that there was any problem there at all,
> because the ability to learn is, as we all know, a form of aptitude, and
> aptitude is simply another construct which can be sampled and modeled by
> statistical means.
> On the way home it occurred to me that it is in principle impossible for a
> test to predict how test-taking behavior can POTENTIALLY (as opposed to
> actually) change, even if we take (as dynamic assessment usually does) a
> severely truncated view of what a ZPD involves (one learner plus one more
> able peer or one learner plus one mediational means). It's in principle not
> possible to use the zone of proximal development to predict how the zone of
> proximal development itself will develop.
> I think that there are some disadvantages to the way in which Professor
> Engestrom talked about the ZPD (in particular, the only reference to
> internalization seems to be the ability to move around independent of the
> starting point, which is something that is possible without internalization,
> e.g. using a map). But I think his "footprints in the forest" image
> catches this limitation extremely well. It is possible to use extant
> footprints to predict future footprints, but it is not possible to use
> footprints to predict future trails.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> ------------------------------
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Received on Mon Nov 19 10:27 PST 2007

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