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

From: <ERIC.RAMBERG who-is-at>
Date: Wed Nov 21 2007 - 05:46:59 PST

Hmm David:

It appears to me you are a closet behaviorist if you are talking about not
being able to observe and measure development. Am I clear that you are
stating development is intramental and therefore cannot be measured,
whereas learning is intermental and can be measured?

Em: If one views a ZPD as a context between the learner and more capable
peer then perhaps it would be difficult to measure but if one were to view
the ZPD as a potential a learner has for developing concepts from their
complexes then perhaps their individual potential could be measured. Have
you ever read "Learning from a learning disabled child"? byTraupman and
Cole. It is a beautiful example of how static norm referenced tests do
nothing for measuring potential and how anecdotal observations provide a
window into a person's true abilities and potential. Another good read
pertaining to qualitative analysis of activity is Valsiner's "Culture and
the development of children's actions".

Also, Em, I haven't forgotten about the paper and look forward to reading
it over the Thanksgiving break!


                      "Emily Duvall"
                      <emily@uidaho.ed To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
                      u> cc:
                      Sent by: Subject: RE: [xmca] Streamed Discussion of Development in CHAT theory
                      11/20/2007 02:29
                      Please respond
                      to "eXtended
                      Mind, Culture,

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

  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

  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 Wed Nov 21 05:53 PST 2007

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