Re: [xmca] The Strange Situation

From: Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch who-is-at>
Date: Mon Oct 20 2008 - 02:53:35 PDT


Your discussion of heaping, then looking at measuring, measuring by
comparing, and then chaining is very helpful. It is what the boy in
Paula's film indeed seems to be doing. Are there other little steps?
Perhaps this kind of sequence is already articulated by Paula, or in
Vygotsky or Sakharov, and it just hasn't sunk in for me yet. Anyway,
would you please, if you can - or Paula, same question to you, if you
like - write up little "explanations" as you see them of the
categories Vygotsky introduces - syncretic thoughts (that is heaping,
right?), the 4 or 5 complexes (chaining, etc.), the pseudoconcept, the
potential concept, the everyday concept, and the scientific concept?
(Did I forget any?) The role of heaping, measurement, comparison and
other techniques in forming the chaining complex seems like a very
helpful way to get a better understanding of the similarities and
differences between all these kinds of thinking. I would love more
along these lines.


- Steve

On Oct 19, 2008, at 4:16 PM, David Kellogg wrote:

> Dear Paula:
> I got it! We watched your DVD over dinner and discussed it at some
> length (although we're not up to Chapter Five of Thinking and Speech
> in our translation). It's a very clear presentation of Sakharov's
> work, and made it thoroughly comprehensible, for which copious
> thanks from afar.
> Here's what still bugs me. LSV says the experiment is a
> hypothetical: the purpose is to tell us how children would reason in
> the absence of adult intervention. So presumably kids would begin by
> heaping, and then look at measuring, and measure by comparing, and
> then start chaining. That's what they would do WITHOUT adult
> intervention.
> But of course there IS adult intervention, and in fact the
> intervention takes the shape that MOST adult intervention does: in
> the design of artefacts for the child's use rather than in direct
> instruction in how to use them. What Vygotsky's experiment really
> shows us is that this form of intervention is logically primary:
> designed artefacts are quite useful in solving the problem without
> direct instruction, but direct instruction would be utterly useless
> without the designed artefacts.
> Vico points out (somewhere!) that we find it easier to understand
> our social environment than our natural one because it's
> recognizeably made of the same stuff that we're made of. (The
> natural environment is too, but it's pretty hard to see that.) This
> is, certainly, an important part of learning to understand a foreign
> language; it's why the idea that people can somehow learn languages
> through "input" only hasn't worked, and why the truth seems to be
> much closer to what Cazden's argued: performance comes to us before
> competence does, and we understand input by making output, and we
> learn to understand the potential through the real.
> The child tackles the problem with that general strategy in mind; I
> can understand what I make. And sure enough as long as the kid is
> making stuff with the blocks, he's understands what's going on very
> well. The only problem comes when he has to master what the adult
> has made out of them.
> But this too happens through what LSV would call "imitation":
> invoking triangles, circles, colors, etc.. This is what LSV calls
> "imitation in the broad sense", which (LSV reminds us) includes the
> child at home solving a homework problem that he has received in
> school, without the teacher standing over his or her shoulder. This
> is STILL imitation.
> At one point you say that the child cannot hold two different
> features of the blocks in his mind at the same time. But the child
> has the concept of circles and triangles, which he uses to name and
> indicate the objects to great effect. The child also knows the
> names, which are (to him) as yet only another feature. And colors.
> And positions. Isn't it really a problem of TOO MANY features and
> not TOO FEW?
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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