Re: [xmca] Streamed Discussion of Development in CHAT theory

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Tue Nov 20 2007 - 14:50:22 PST

If a zoped is conversation with one's future, measurement could be a tad

On Nov 20, 2007 12:29 PM, Emily Duvall <> wrote:

> Hi David,
> A long and thoughtful post David. I won't pretend to tackle the whole...
> some of the bits, though...:-)
> I'm afraid that I am enamored of etymology... much cultural-historical
> resonance. Which is not to say that there aren't negotiated meanings and
> understandings that take place. Gadamer gives a nice heads up on this
> actually as we work towards a fusion of horizons. Nor does it suggest that I
> am static in my request to differentiate the two terms, but right not I'm
> not so sure that test and assessment carry forth the same
> meanings/understandings for me. The differences are quite important in my
> understanding of teaching and learning and development. Agency, for me is
> quite different.
> At any rate, Sternberg & Grigorenko (2002) are quite interested in the
> transformation of 'tests', particularly tests which could be considered
> non-culturally biased (eg. Raven's matrices) or other more psychometric
> oriented measurements relevant to questions about intelligence. My interest
> is located in the classroom and in domain specific assessment. As a result,
> while I appreciate the work of Sternberg & Grigorenko (2002) - they have a
> nice typology that is quite differently ordered than that of Jitendra &
> Kameenui (1993) - I find more connection to the work of Lidz, Haywood,
> Karpov, Gindis, etc in terms of thinking about higher psychological
> processes and scientific concepts and, methodologically speaking, the
> classic work of Brown, Ferrera, Campione, Palincsar etc. using a variation
> of the graduated-prompt approach.
> Honestly, I cannot wrap my head around 'measuring' a ZPD although I can
> attach a score to something, it seems quite an oxymoron to try to measure
> something on the move that is, one would hope, changing. The scoring I use
> really looks at the 'where you are now' and 'where you and I ended up'...
> which can float right off the grid... :-) The 'grid' so to speak is
> something that allows stakeholders (children, parents, teachers,
> administrators) to say, "Hey, there's more going on here than we thought!"
> It's an issue of granularity, really. And the scores allow people to nail
> something down as it flies by so to speak.
> They can also provide some directionality.... even in a recursive
> situation where the crisis is underway, I believe additional learning
> opportunities can help to negotiate these moments.
> So, I imagine that we are not far apart in our thinking. Learning, of a
> sort, can be observed... when can we know the difference between learning
> and development? I go back to the transfer... and,hence, assessment, for me,
> is not a one shot event, but a lengthy involvement that provides opportunity
> for transfer. That there is a recursiveness is, I think, crucial to
> understanding. My DA took approximately 70-90 days with each child... the
> embedded, scorable, DA took 20 minutes. It was the continuation of the
> assessment that proved fruitful for the children and also let me see what
> could be gleaned from the shorter DA vis--vis the usefulness to the teacher
> and learner in the future. The static score... a more political component,
> eh?
> Are we getting closer?
> ~ Em
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of David Kellogg
> Sent: Monday, November 19, 2007 3:35 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: RE: [xmca] Streamed Discussion of Development in CHAT theory
> Dear Em:
> Thanks for your note, which (as you can see from the follow up!) really
> did get to the heart of what I wanted to talk about.
> But first a short note on the means of talking. I like apples too, and I
> particularly like the Biblical phrase "apple of my eye" because it is a
> mistranslation of a Hebrew phrase (the original writer, God if you are
> Jewish, wrote "pupil of my eye"). The general point is that (Mike's fondness
> for etymology notwithstanding) meaning is not in words, but rather in the
> process of using words to point to shared understandings (even where these
> shared understandings still lie in the future).
> If I say "assessment" and you say "test" and we are both talking about
> the same thing, it is much as if I said "this" and you said "that". In fact,
> the book which I have on DA (Sternberg and Grigorenko) is entitled "Dynamic
> TESTING", not assessment. But I'm not really enamoured of either word; we
> could call it "agency", just so long as we mean the same thing.
> The heart of my criticism is really the distinction between development
> and learning. It seems to me that many of the problems that we have had
> operationalizing the ZPD stem from the (understandable) desire to equate
> them. But I think development cannot be directly measured, precisely because
> it has to do with the relationship between psychological functions).
> Learning, in contrast, can actually be observed, because it takes place
> inter-mentally. So discussions inevitably end up emphasizing the latter at
> the expense of the former.
> As you correctly point out, objective psychology by is objective because
> it focuses on this external, intermental reorganization of functions and
> tries to understand the internal, intramental reorganization of functions on
> this basis. In so doing, the chasm between subjective and objective
> experience is not obliterated, but it can be partially filled in and bridged
> with language.
> Early on in the San Diego-Helsinki discussion, Mike expresses some
> perplexity about a passage of Vygotsky where he discusses:
> a) the REVERSAL of central functions and peripheral ones during periods
> of development.
> b) the REVERSAL of the role of the whole and the parts during crises of
> development
> Now, it seems to me that these are two different things. But they both
> part of the intramental reorganization of functions, and therefore they are
> both not susceptible to direct observation. Some examples of a) might
> include (off the top of my head):
> 1) a toddler who goes from collecting large numbers of stuffed toys just
> for the purpose of handling them and peripherally gives some of them rather
> boring, object-oriented names (e.g. "Kitty" for a stuffed cat) to a
> smaller collection of stuffed toys that have elaborate names, personalities,
> and life stories. Concrete objects were central; now they are peripheral.
> Imaginary situations were peripheral; now they are central.
> 2) a school child who goes from a form of speech where sound is central
> and visual meaning-making is quite incidental (gesture during speech) to a
> form of speech where visual information is central and the sound is purely a
> resonant afterthought (i.e. written language). Once again, what was
> central becomes peripheral, and what was peripheral is now central.
> 3) an adult who learns a foreign language without daily use of that
> language. In the native language, we begin with a situation, which gives
> rise to discourse, which may be written down, if we choose, as text, but the
> textfulness of daily discourse is not a necessary precondition. In learning
> a foreign language, we reverse the whole process, and it is precisely this
> which gives it a more deliberate, volitional (and less fluent) quality.
> (Indeed, the use of a foreign language is simply the exercise of deliberate
> choice at the scale of a whole language instead of at the scale of a sound,
> a word, or a phrase.) Once again, the first shall be last and the last shall
> be first.
> I think that b) is a linked but distinct process. It's far more general,
> and it's even more clearly embedded in the cultural organization of the
> child's education (the sort of thing we read and write Bildungsromans to
> describe). Here the whole structure of the personality undergoes
> reorganization and the development of the component parts of the personality
> (volition, attention, memory, etc.) is decisively subordinated to their
> reorganization (and indeed we see that in periods of crisis volition,
> attention, and memory may be degraded rather than improved). And here Mike
> starts to get cold feet, because the resulting schema of child development
> is simply too schematic and cannot take into account the myriad processes we
> see in a).
> This schematic quality of b) bothers Mike because the idea that there is
> a single, unique structure for each period seems to contradict the
> multiplicity of the examples (and the different time scales that they appear
> to occupy) we observed with process a). It is also what Professor Subbotsky
> seeks to explain by referring to the homogenous quality of education in
> Vygotsky's time (I have my doubts about this, based on my experience in
> China!) and I think it's what Professor Hakarrainen means when he refers to
> Elkonin, and the "periodization" problem (which LSV also delves into in his
> essay 'The Problem of Age').
> LSV is rather ambivalent on the problem of periodization: as Professor
> Hakarrainen points out, he denies that chronological age is the same thing
> as either physiological age or mental age (and this is also implicit in his
> use of learning disabled children in his examples). He also DENIES at one
> point that school year can be used, but then he asserts that because
> development is bound up with the educational experience of children, school
> grade levels do "roughly" correspond to developmental periods. Chaiklin gets
> around this problem by giving us TWO ZPDs, a subjective and an objective
> one, but some people, including me, feel this solution leads to dualism.
> Examples of b) appear to include:
> 1) The transition from a newborn infant to a toddler. For the infant, the
> "leading activity" is contact with the care-giver and the baby's own
> movements are peripheral (as LSV points out). For the toddler, the
> relationship is quite the reverse. (I got into trouble with Paul because I
> tried to argue that the infant's manipulation of adults by the control of
> his/her own crying is a form of agency, and in this sense Paul is quite
> right; an infant is not a toddler.)
> 2) The transition from toddler to preschooler. For the toddler, the
> handling of concrete objects is a leading activity, while the creation of
> imaginary situations is implicit in this as an afterthough, while in the
> case of the preschooler, the relationship is quite the reverse. That is why
> we have the transition described under a) 1) above.
> 3) The transition from preschooler to schoolchild. Professor Subbotsky
> and Professor Hakarrainen BOTH suggested that this involves the replacement
> of play with learning. My ex-grad Yongho Kim has argued that it is not so
> simple: what LSV really says is that school is a continuation of play based
> on abstract rules rather than imaginary situations, and this is why children
> will very often conceptualize their whole schoolday around competitive
> playground games (as we see when we ask them what they did all day at
> school). This can be observed in their language: the language of role play
> is really an extension of referential language to imaginary situations, but
> the language of rule play is quite different, involving conditionals and
> embedded clauses.
> Professor Vasquez raised the question of whether this was a matter of
> change in the "neoformation" (that is, the unique structure that Vygotsky
> was talking about) or in the "leading activity" (which Leontiev and Elkonin,
> but not Vygotsky, highlight). This question was never answered. It seems to
> me an absolutely key question, though!
> The problem I have with DA is this: whether we are looking at a) or b)
> (and I think that a] is often nothing more than the phenotypic manifestation
> of the genotypical transformation described in b), neither one is directly
> measurable. BOTH are going lead to "U shaped" curves of development, that
> is, crises. In a crisis, whether the child is interacting with a more able
> peer or not, there is a degradation and not an increase in performance. You
> can't have a crisis and keep on learning linearly at the same time.
> How can ANY form of assessment, dynamic or static, distinguish between
> those degradations in performance that are developmentally progressive (nay,
> decisive) and those which are due to poor learning? It is like trying to
> predict the DIRECTION in which this thread will develop on the basis of
> reading the past postings. We may predict footsteps from footsteps, but we
> can't predict future turnings, future trails.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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Received on Tue Nov 20 14:52 PST 2007

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