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RE: [xmca] On the shape of the zpd and message in a bottle

Thank you for taking the time to respond to this David! I will go back to my Thinking & Speech for review to see if / how this might apply.

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of David Kellogg
Sent: Wednesday, June 03, 2009 11:38 PM
To: Culture ActivityeXtended Mind
Subject: RE: [xmca] On the shape of the zpd and message in a bottle

Mike, Em:
But of course Vygotsky DOES use the word "curve", and it IS in the context of a ZPD, in Chapter Six of Thinking and Speech. For example, here in 6.4:
"The process of schooling has its own progression, its own logic, its own complex organization. It unrolls in the form of lessons or visits or pedagogical excursions. Today we have certain lessons in class and tomorrow there will be others. In the first semester we study one thing, and in the second semester we will study another. The process of schooling is regulated by a programme and a use of time. It would be a very great error to suppose that certain laws external to the schooling process coincide perfectly with the internal laws that are proper to the structure of the process of development which instructed learning triggers. It would be false to believe that, if in this semester the schoolchild learns something in arithmetic, he will then do, as a consequence of the course of this semester the same progress in his internal development. If, precisely as we attempted to do in our experiments, we attempt to represent symbolically the unrolling of the
 schooling process in the form of a curve and if we proceed in the same way for the development of the psychological functions that participate directly in school learning, we see that these two curves do not ever coincide but instead cause very complex correspondances to appear." (My translation, from Seve)
What Vygotsky's referring to here, of course, is the famous "parallelogram of development", where the academic concept rises faster than the everyday concept at first and then pulls the everyday concept after it. The reason why the academic concept has this property is the "invisible collaboration" of the teacher in school, which is explicitly connected to the zone of proximal development, or rather, the "next zone of development".
I disagree that NONE of this is connected to emotional development in Vygotsky, and I think that it is not explicitly connected in Chaiklin only because Chaiklin is really concerned with trying to disabuse us of the overly narrow "GAP" interpretation of the ZPD (generality-assistance-potential) that is used in educational circles in the USA. He doesn't choose the grounds on which he has to fight this fight; they are chosen for him already in the SHELVES of books written on the ZPD on the basis of p. 86 of Mind in Society ALONE.
Mike and Em are of course "dead on", or rather live on, when they point out that LSV did not divide emotional from cognitive life; both are sublated in the social. But for precisely that reason, he DID divide lower psychological functions from higher psychological functions, and I see no reason to limit his distinction to cognitive life.
It seems to me that almost everything he says about the development of academic (science) concepts in Chapter Six can equally be said about higher aesthetic concepts and higher ethical ones, including the "invisible collaboration" of the child's teachers (in school and out of it). These higher emotions are never biologically given; they are always the product of sociocultural mediation.
All of the above is yet one more reason why I reject the idea that a chatbot or a phone tree or a computer or anything less than a living breathing human being can be said to communicate in any meaningful (literally) sense. 
People who believe that there is some important sense in which these tools "communicate" are basically using the model of telementation, of information transfer, and they know not what they are saying (literally, because they don't know what saying is).
Let me give you a quick, sloppy illustration. If you are driving down the road, and something goes wrong with your car, you pull over and try to fix it. Nobody can drive and fix a car at the same time.
But if you are driving down the road and having a misunderstanding with your wife, you keep talking (even if you pull over, which is probably a good idea). This is because nobody can STOP a conversation and fix the conversation at the same time; you fix a conversation by having it, not by stopping it.
Now, why does this auto-repair (or rather auto-healing) capability of conversation work? It works because the premise of having a conversation is always that the other person is voluntarily communicating; that they have the will to say something to you, and that they have the wish that you will understand something by it. A chatbot cannot do this, because it does not know you and cannot even imagine you. 
That is why chatbots are REALLY BAD at repair; they change the topic because they cannot change your mind. To change someone's mind, you really have to know what a mind is, and more than what a mind is, you have to know the mind you are trying to change.
This is actually how conversation analysis really works. We start from the premise that the tools for understanding and misunderstanding and fixing the misunderstanding is all right there in the conversation; it is not brought in from the outside in any way shape or form. 
In some ways this premise is overstated; I think there are participants who do not ever show their faces or speak their names in every conversation we have. But this makes conversation LESS like car-fixing, and not more. 
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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