[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[xmca] Re: Roaming, Scanning and the Objectivity of the SSD

Dear Carol and Larry (and Mike too, because I think this is really ONE thread and not two)
I think Bernstein says somewhere that the key question for sociology is how the outside becomes inside. That is, of course, the key question for sociocultural psychology as well. It seems to me that as long as we conceive of the social situation of development as a physical site for activity, there is essentially no way to answer it, and we are always left puzzling about how one child can be two places at the same time.
I think that when Leontiev and Vygotsky split (and I think the split was a genuine one), it was essentially over this question. Leontiev decided that Vygotsky had made speech the "demiurge" of thinking. and he saw this as leading in the direction of idealism. In response, Leontiev took an OBJECTIVIST position; the child develops by adapting to the environment, by making the demands of that environment his own, and by mastering the environment by allowing it to master his own demands. But if we replace the word "master" with "accomodate" and "assimilate", we have, as Kozulin points out, a straightforwardly neo-Piagetian theory, except that, being a good Stalinist, Leontiev does not see any basic contradiction between other regulation and self regulation. 
Besides the problem of the child being two places in one time, there are two additional problems with this objectivist definition: the putative mutual INFLUENCE of the child (or at any rate the child's central neoformatoin) and the social situation of development, and the INTERNAL nature of the crisis. Neither one sits well with an objectivist definition of the social situation of development, and both are completely comprehensible if we see the SSD as being semiotic in nature. 
Marilyn Fleer and Marianne Hedegaard, just like our previous article for discussion by Beth Ferholt and Robert Lucasey, speak of a reciprocal, dialectical, mutual influence between the child's central neoformations and the social situation of development. This two-way traffic provides the whole content of the central line of development. But if we see the social situation of development as a physical site for physical activiteis like roaming or scanning, it's very hard to see this as more than just an empty slogan. In what way does Andrew's roaming "change" the layout of his home? How does his scanning behavior fundamentally alter the school as an institution? His whole tragedy, and his LACK of development, consists in this: it does not.
More--Vygotsky clearly says that the roots of the crisis are INTERNAL, not external, and that the content of the crisis consists of changes of an INTERNAL nature and not a conflict between the child's will and the environment (see p. 296 of Volume Five, where this is stated in completely unambiguous language). But if the crisis is just the result of moving from one environment to which Andrew has fully adapted (home) to another where he is less well adapted (school) then there is no serious sense in which this statement is true; the roots of the crisis are external, and they are precisely caused by a conflict between the child's burgenoning volition and the implacable brick wall of the school.
Vygotsky would have none of this; he insisted on a SEMIOTIC social situation of development after the age of one, and even before one, the social situation of development is both objective (because it is social) and subjective (because it is semiotic).The examples he gives us of social situations of development are always RELATIONSHIPS: the child's physiological independence in contradiction with biological dependence, the child's hypersociality in contradiction with his lack of speech, the child's "autonomous" speech/walking/thinking in contradiction with the child's understanding of other's speech/actions/thoughts, etc.
It seems to me that as soon as we accept that the social situation of development is a semiotic and not a physical construct, all of the problems simply fall away. Of course the child is NOT two places at one and the same time; the child simply relates to all the places that the child is through the same semiotic relationship: ostension, indication, naming, and only later signifying. Of course, the child DOES have a mutual influence on the social situation of development, because the child's semiotic system is both linked to and distinct from larger cultural semiotic system in which it develops. Of course, the crisis IS fundamentally internal in its genetic roots; the semiotic system at any given age period is the superproductive but largely untapped semiotic resource brought into being by the child's central neoformation, and the pressure of its superproductivity on the main line of development is what engenders the crisis.
Larry, the reason why I used the term "disembodiment of meaning" to refer to the next zone of development (for Andrew, and also for my own mastery of Korean) is that I think development involves SYSTEM and not simply LIFEWORLD. In Chapter Five of Thinking and Speech, Vygotsky argues that children notice difference before they notice similarity because differences depend simply upon lifeworld perceptual cues, but similarities depend on a system: we must imagine a superordinate concept of which both similar objects are exemplars.
The problem for both Andrew and myself is that we have locked ourselves in the lifeworld. Andrew and I are both dependent on concrete, tangible, physical, kinesthetic perceptible clues, and we are limited to noticing differences: he depends on roaming and scanning, and I depend on a losing strategy of trying to infer grammatical similarities and semantic meanings from the infinite pragmatic varieity of intonation and facial expression. 
Yet for both of us, the lifeworld provides abundant resources for breaking out of the lifeworld. In Andrew's case, it is the BOOKS to which he must apply his scanning skills. For me, it is the disembodied GRAMMAR and VOCABULARY to which I must apply my inferential bag of tricks. The problem, and here is where I find myself in complete agreement with you, is that in both cases there is no affective payoff, there is no concrete, tangible, embodied answer to the question "Why should I care?"
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education
--- On Sat, 5/15/10, Larry Purss <lpurss@shaw.ca> wrote:

From: Larry Purss <lpurss@shaw.ca>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Is the Transition from "Roaming" to "Scanning" Developmental?
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Saturday, May 15, 2010, 9:50 AM

you mention that the next step in development is written language as the process of the "disembodiment of meaning".  I wonder what types of institutional structures create the contexts that will facilitate the emergence of this new "disembodied" relation to meaning.
How secure does Andrew feel in the " traditional institutional structure" of school.
As a counsellor working in school settings I've observed over and over with many "anxious" students who are roaming the classroom to stay connected [much like Andrew] that there is not the affective climate [for a particular student] to refocus on learning to write.  
My introducing the notion of a "lifeworld" is pointing to a suggestion that learning to write [and developing a disembodied relation to meaning] requires a developmental situation that is relational and supports  Andrew to stay connected to the other students and teacher.  Until these relational patterns of connection are established [or he develops a more encapsulated individuated identity that can navigate rationalized institutional systems] learning to write may not be a priority for Andrew.
David I don't want to assume that learning to write cannot be done in a relational lifeworld conext [not an either/or tension] but that depends on the types of school "traditions" that we historically develop. 
Nietzsche, in talking about traditions and institutional structures said
"The overthrow of beliefs is not immediately followed by the overthrow of institutions; rather the new beliefs live for a long time in the now desolated and eerie house of their predecessors, which they themselves preserve, because of the housing shortage." 
I believe we could create institutional structures that are both nurturing and develop writing but it requires examining the  rationalized systems and the presuppositions that keep the traditional beliefs of the purpose of school alive.


----- Original Message -----
From: Carol Macdonald <carolmacdon@gmail.com>
Date: Saturday, May 15, 2010 4:03 am
Subject: Re: [xmca] Is the Transition from "Roaming" to "Scanning" Developmental?
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

> D
> It may be a forced "development", insofar as Andrew would never 
> be able to
> roam the class physically, that much is clear. We don't for 
> example know if
> his language changed from home to school.How much of the other 
> children'slanguage was he constructing? Insofar as this was 
> qualitative research,
> David is correct in his analysis of the flaw.
> My sister learned Icelandic by watching Icelandic subtitles of 
> mainly German
> films when her second child was newborn.
> Carol
> On 15 May 2010 08:55, David Kellogg 
> <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com> wrote:
> > The Seoul subway has installed televisions on most cars for 
> public service
> > announcements, but they are silent and subtitled. The 
> subtitles go by pretty
> > fast, and the announcers are usually young and extremely 
> attractive (in a
> > blooming, refreshing, corn-fed, healthy but quite unsexy way 
> that reminds me
> > of my own students).
> >
> > So I often find myself concentrating on the features of the 
> speaker, and
> > trying to lip-read rather than struggling with the text. After 
> only a few
> > journeys, I began to discover certain things about Korean 
> sentence structure
> > that I had pretty much ignored in both my speaking and my reading.
> >
> > One is that every Korean utterance tends to end with an 
> INTERPERSONAL> element. Grammatically, this marked by the 
> presence or absence of an
> > honorific at the end of the verb (and thus the end of the 
> sentence). But
> > visuallly, it is usually marked by a smile (informal) or a 
> slight bow
> > (formal). Where particles in middle of the sentence contain 
> epistemic or
> > deontic elements, you see pretty much the same thing.
> >
> > Now, the way I discovered this was to IMAGINE the intonation 
> without any of
> > the grammar or vocabulary while trying to "lipread" and 
> checking my
> > hypotheses against the subtitles. In other words, intonation 
> and facial
> > expression represents a kind of "internalization" of the external
> > grammatical markers.
> >
> > This internalization is less complete in women and young 
> people and more
> > complete in men and elderly people; that is, women and young 
> people tend to
> > rely more on intonation and facial expression to convey the 
> interpersonal> element of their speech and the less telegenic 
> men and older people tend to
> > rely on grammar and vocabulary.
> >
> > Marilyn Fleer and Marianne Hedegaard, in their article, appear 
> to assume
> > that Andrew's replacement of "roaming" behavior by "scanning" 
> behavior is a
> > similar instance of development. Bodily displacement has been 
> "internalized"> by the displacement of eye contact.
> >
> > The problem I have with this extremely intriguing idea is that 
> it appears
> > to me to be, like my own discovery of the connection between facial
> > expression and grammatical honorifics, a step sideways rather 
> than forwards;
> > I can't see how it will lead to WRITTEN LANGUAGE, which seems 
> to me to be
> > the real next step in the disembodiment of meaning, both for 
> me and for
> > Andrew.
> >
> > I guess this is related to what I see as the chief THEORETICAL 
> flaw in the
> > article, which is the interpretation of "social situation of 
> development" in
> > a rather objectivist "community of practice" sense rather than 
> a semiotic
> > one. I note that there is no actual verbal data from Andrew at 
> all, and only
> > one page of verbal data from his mother.
> >
> > It seems to me that life is full of nonadaptive sidesteps, and 
> classroom> life is especially so. For hundreds of years, it was 
> assumed that
> > translation was a step forward in foreign language learning; 
> the mapping of
> > foreign sounds onto native word meanings represented the 
> acquisition of
> > vocabulary. This is undoubtedly true in many cases, and it may 
> be truer as
> > we move upwards, towards more universal concepts. But in every 
> language> there are certain core structures (e.g. tenses and 
> articles and so on) which
> > are untranslatable, and the attempt to translate them only 
> leads to trouble.
> >
> > Now, the current dogma is that it's better to GESTURE than to 
> > am unconvinced. The mind is an economical thing; and it seems 
> to me to
> > likely that I will remember the gesture and the pragmatic 
> circumstance and
> > not the word or the semantic meaning, just as I understand and 
> remember the
> > English and forget the Korean when I translate.
> >
> > It seems to me that the transition from translation to 
> gesture, like the
> > transition from roaming to scanning and the transition from 
> relying on
> > intonation to relying on facial expression, may be yet another step
> > sideways.
> >
> > David Kellogg
> > Seoul National University of Education
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> > xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
> >
> -- 
> Visiting Researcher
> Wits School of Education
> 6 Andover Road
> Westdene
> Johannesburg 2092
> 011 673 9265  082 562 1050
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list