[xmca] Discussion on Development

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at yahoo.com>
Date: Sun Dec 02 2007 - 01:38:44 PST

Dear Bella:
  Thanks...again...for your help with the Russian. What was the word that the translators rendered as "identity"?
  Dear Mike:
  I'm writing a chapter for a book coming out sometime next summer, with the somewhat unfortunate title "Child's Play? Second language acquisition and the young learner".
  (I'm not very big on the words "second", "acquisition", and "young learner", and I don't like the question mark either!)
  I think I want to write about additional language learning as an example of what LSV means by "crisis", "restructuring of the whole by the parts" and "exchange of central and peripheral functions".
  Take a look at this from the very beginning.
  "If additional language learning is such a risky, uncertain enterprise for children, why is Vygotsky such an enthusiastic advocate? The short answer lies in his comparison of foreign language learning with the acquisition of scientific concepts in schools. Like science concepts, foreign language words are built on the most abstract and decontextualized forms offered by the first language and create thereby a single zone of proximal development; for Vygotsky first language acquisition cannot be fully conscious and complete without foreign language learning (1987: 222).
  "But there is evidence that Vygotsky intended this to be only a part of a much longer answer. He left behind an uncompleted work on child development, in which he describes how, during what we may call non-critical periods of development (and he considers that puberty is one of these!), the parts of the child¡¯s personality develop quantitatively, bringing about a development of the whole. During the ¡°crises¡±, this relationship is decisively reversed, and the restructuring of the whole causes qualitative changes to come about, reorganizing the various parts.
  "Similarly (or perhaps it is the same thing?), he describes how so-called ¡°central¡± functions organize more peripheral ones during the non-critical periods, but in critical periods the functions that were peripheral become central (1998: 196). The cultural psychologist Michael Cole has asked what exactly these ¡°parts¡±, ¡°wholes¡±, and ¡°functions¡± might refer to in practice and what kind of evidence might tell us that this critical transformation is taking place (2007). This chapter attempts to answer his question with the relationship between physical action and meaning making on the one hand, and the transition from first language to foreign language learning on the other."
  In the conclusion, I come back to you again, like this:
  "Cole (2007) remarks that from the text of Vygotsky¡¯s unfinished book on child development, it is not entirely clear whether the exchange of central and peripheral functions and the restructuring of the parts by the whole refer to the same crisis-laden process or not. But there is certainly one sense in which the development of the whole child and the child¡¯s various mental functions can be conceptualized as a revolutionary transformation of mental functions by one organizing function that introduces itself from outside the child and seizes central power and authority. That organizing function is volition, and we see it realized in the child¡¯s linguistic choices."
  Fair use, or not?
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Sun Dec 2 01:41 PST 2007

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