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[xmca] Two "Neoformations" or One?

What if "conscious awareness and mastery" were not TWO neoformations but only one? What I mean is that "mastery" in its fully mature, adolescent form is not unconscious mastery, the sort of thing we see in fluent language performance of grammatical rules, but instead the DELIBERATE, INTENTIONAL, CONSCIOUS mastery of the child's behavior, the sort of thing we see when errors become deliberate, intentional, and conscious acts of linguistic creativity?
Some Korean fifth graders are playing a game. It involves looking at cards and issuing invitations, e.g. "Let's go skating'" and then accepting the invitation and the card if you have a matching card but refusing the invitation and declining the card with a suitable excuse. Eunji is offered the skating card, and most of the children say "Let's play skating" (because the previous card was "Let's play basketball." Eunji declines the card using "Sorry I can't" but does not give a suitable excuse. The teacher asks "Why not?" to prompt her, and she cannot think of one, so she says "Because I don't have that card". According to the rules of the game, this is wrong because it is not a reason to not go skating and she loses the round, but it certainly shows conscious awareness and mastery of the rules.
When we look at the other "neoformations" described in Volume Five of the Collected Works, we frequently notice that there are several incarnations of the same neoformation. For example, the neoformation for the Crisis at One is "autonomous speech" but it is also autonomous walking and other forms of autonomous activity as well. The crisis of "negativity" involves nay-saying but it also involves nay-doing and even nay-thinking.
Vygotsky has a difficult problem. He has to somehow reconcile his pre-Decree (on pedology) work (viz, Chapter Five of Thinking and Speech) which is entirely about the complex and which very clearly states that the concept qua concept does not exist until adolescence with his post-Decree work (viz. Chapter Six) whcih just as clearly says that the previous work was wrong and that complexes must be left at the schoolhouse door in primary school. 
He takes one step back--he criticizes his previous work in a thoroughly principled manner, without pissing on any of his former colleagues (not an easy feat, given the circumstances). And then he takes three giant leaps forward:
a) he redefines the highest stage of complexive thinking as the "preconcept", viz. the concept for others, the concept which is behaviorally mastered but not necessarily conscious. In this way, "conscous awareness and mastery" can be only one neoformation and not two, but it is the neoformation in its preconceptual stage, a stage which corresponds to what was referred to, rather confusingly, as a pseudoconcept in Chapter Five.
b) he brings future development into the present by including the next moment of development as a visible behavioral potential in the present moment of development (what we see in collaboration). In this way, "conscious awareness and mastery" might be a behavior which has been independently mastered but whose consciousness is for the present moment of development still inter-mental.
c) he begins to work out, quite explicitly, the behavioral, mental, and verbal descriptions of each moment of development as part of a unified (but unfinished) scheme of Child Development. That is why not just the age period of adolescence but all of the age periods described in Volume Five have different manfestations in action, thinking and speech (and after the Crisis at One the central line of development is always a verbal line)
William Hazlitt, a failed painter, romantic, dissenter, and essayist who hung around with Coleridge and Wordsworth but unlike them never gave up his belief in the French Revolution and his fierce hatred for monarchy, wrote, while still very young, an essay in which he criticized all of the previous psychological writing by Locke and Hume which tried to explain behavior from the inside, by ascribing the child's actions to his "passions" or his "interests". Hazlitt argued that the child's future man (what his friend Wordsworth referred to when the he said "the child is the father of the man") is unreal but extremely real to the child, and in that way the child's relationship to that future person is very similar to the child's relationship to OTHER PEOPLE in his environment. That means that development, motivated by actions taken with the future child and the virtual self that the child sees around him in mind, can be both interested and disinterested,
 both reducible to the child's interests and passions and not so. 
Unlike Vygotsky, Hazlitt lived on a few more decades after this mighty leap, but he was never able to publish the ramifications of this "theory of human action" in a single volume. The weird thing is that it peeks out at you from most of the essays that Hazlitt did write, on things like boxing, painting, and...the way his friend Thomas Keane played Hamlet in the Shakespeare play. 
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

--- On Mon, 4/19/10, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:

From: Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
Subject: Re: [xmca] The strange situation
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Monday, April 19, 2010, 6:47 AM

Thanks, Sue. That makes perfect sense, doesn't it - there is indeed then a focus in the Golden Key Schools on the two neoformations that LSV emphasized: conscious awareness and mastery. One thing that puzzles me, though, is that LSV proposed that these neoformations are involved in the use of concepts, not of complexes, and Gennady Kratsova writes that the program assumes that concepts will not be used until adolescence. Yet they apparently make efforts to encourage conscious awareness and mastery in younger children. 

Can you tell us more about the way moral development is viewed in the Golden Key Schools, and how the "nurturer" takes care of this?


On Apr 18, 2010, at 1:40 AM, Sue March wrote:

> Hi Martin
> I was at the summer school last year.  According to my notes the term
> Gennady used was овладение (ovladenie) which I would translate as mastery or
> mastering rather than acquiring.  I do not know if this is how it is usually
> translated though - others may be able to elaborate on this.
> Have just caught up with this interesting conversation over the weekend
> (perils of part-time PhD study).  The "pair pedagogy" is indeed a crucial
> part of creating the ZPD in Golden Key Schools.  There are different terms
> in Russian for the two teachers - one is a "teacher" or учитель (uchitel')
> and the other a "nurturer" or воспитатель (vospitatel') who takes care of
> the moral upbringing of the child, two aspects of development that were not
> separate in Vygotsky's time and which are reunited in the GK schools.
> The Golden Key School methodology (including pair pedagogy) was developed by
> Elena and Gennady together with their colleague Elena Berezhkovskaya.
> Elena and Gennady have also published the following chapter which may be of
> interest:
> Kravtsov, G. G., & Kravtsova, E. E. (2009). Cultural-historical psychology
> in the practice of education (S. March, Trans.). In M. Fleer, M. Hedegaard &
> J. Tudge (Eds.), World yearbook of education 2009:  childhood studies and
> the impact of globalization:  policies and practices at global and local
> levels. New York: Routledge.
> Sue March
> PhD Candidate
> Monash University, Australia
> Sue.March@education.monash.edu.au
> On 18/04/10 11:26 AM, "Martin Packer" <packer@duq.edu> wrote:
>> P.S. Gennadi Kravtsov writes that "Acquiring is a very important concept in
>> Vygotsky’s theory." Can any one tell me what Russian word is being used here,
>> and how it is usually translated, because I don't think 'acquire' appears as a
>> central concept in the English translations I am familiar with.
>> Martin
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