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Re: [xmca] Re: Roaming, Scanning and the Objectivity of the SSD/Where is Development
Well, of course, the word 'revolution', in the eighteenth century, really meant what it says: a turning point. It was largely Burke and the French Revolution who were responsible for the rather sinister connotations of the word today.
Nevertheless I think there are at least three important senses in which development is not simply a matter of twisting and turning, of looking forward to see how far you have to go and looking back to see how far you have come. There are three sense in which, as Yrjo Engestrom has said, a turning point in learning, a step forward in development, has to be considered "destructive".
The only problem is that these senses really ONLY apply to the semiotic conception of the SSD, and not to the objectivist one. Of course, I don't think semiosis can be said to be psychological as opposed to sociological (or vice versa); it has to be one hundred percent both. But the three senses in which ONTOGENETIC development (as opposed to sociogenetic development) is destructive only apply to the destruction of semiotic systems, not to the destruction of political or economic relations.
The first is that learning direction and learning momentum is destroyed. It's well known that when the child begins to acquire GRAMMAR, as opposed to simple vocabulary, accuracy of expression undergoes a "U-shaped curve"; as soon as children begin to say "I goed" as oppose to "All gone", and the possiblities for error are, quite literally, infinite, and it seems at first small consolation to say that the possibilities for creativity are similarly expanded, and if we restrict schooling to testing, as we have been very recently encouraged to do we must inevitably correct "at first" to "at last". The same thing happens when children begin to point instead of grasp, walk as opposed to crawl, use negation as opposed to simply cry and scream.
The other two senses in which developmetn has to be considered ontogenetically destructive have to do with my rather ill chosen phrase, the "disembodiment of meaning". It seems to me that a lot of the first part of T&S (esp. Chapter Two) is essentially about the disappearance of SOUND from speech: the disembodiment of meaning through self-directed and then through inner speech.
The second part of T&S is about another kind of disembodied meaning: the disappearance of actual objects from the description of their qualities (e.g. the disappearance of an actual block from size, and the disappearance of size as a holistic category from diameter and from height, and the disappearance of actual objects from quanitity and actual quantities from numerical relations).
It seems to me that each development is revolutionary (at least in the eighteenth century sense of the word) and that each involves the apotheosis, if not the physical destruction, of the corporeal components of meaning; first, in the raw material of the sign, and second in its referent. And each involves loss, at least until such a time that Andrew can recognize that the silent meanings he experiences when he scans the words on a page instead of the people in a room are real experiences, lived experiences, and that they are shareable too.
I think that the restraint exercised on Andrew is objectively a step in that direction, just as his transmutation of roaming to scanning is objectively a step in that direction. But that's the problem: lived experience is not entirely objective; it has to acquire all the sweetness of experience for others and for myself, the sweetness of lived experience shared through words.
Kant really deceived us, deceived Hegel, deceived Leontiev, and deceived Andrew, when he tried to tell us that freedom is nothing more than the ability to make laws that we obey ourselves. That kind of freedom smacks of the same old slavery.
Seoul National University of Education
--- On Sun, 5/16/10, Jay Lemke <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Jay Lemke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: Roaming, Scanning and the Objectivity of the SSD/Where is Development
To: email@example.com, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sunday, May 16, 2010, 3:18 PM
I was one of the participants in the LCHC discussion of Hedegaard & Fleer. I am perhaps not quite so worried about just what has been established about revolutionary development in the paper's reported data as Mike is, though I recognize his concerns.
H&F emphasize that we need to understand the SSD in terms of the _relationship_ between child and his/her environments, and I assume that it is changes in these relationships that is involved in development. They also seem to frame the environments in terms of institutional values and practices, and so the relationship presumably is in some important part constituted by the child's participation in these and how they in turn affect the child, directly and mediatedly (e.g. through caregivers, other participants, etc.)
Their argument I think is not simply that the child adapted home patterns of behavior (and values) to the classroom, and that the school failed to be aware of this and so was ill-prepared to support the child's development, but more generally that transformative crises in development occur because of tensions and contradictions within the SSD, and that these should be seen again in terms of the child's relationships to its various components. Those relationships are presumably relationships of participation (practices), orientation (expectations, in both directions), and values (evaluations, in both directions).
A crisis here seems to come about because the addition of the school's institutional context to that of the home provokes tensions and contradictions of practices (roaming and scanning), but perhaps more importantly of expectations and evaluations. Imagine looking at this from the child's point of view. School is a weird new place! an uncomfortable place for this child. A place where you can't do what you're used to doing, and where you get judged very negatively for even creatively adapting what has worked for you in the past (at home), and in fact where you are judged as abnormal, defective, and diseased just for being yourself.
Moreover, I am not sure we analytically understand how to imagine the child's sense of difference between home and school.
We are so accustomed to the idea of separate place, separate institutions, separate roles and behaviors that we may overestimate the child's sense of this. Perhaps the SSD is more unitary for him than it is for us. And thus its internal tensions and contradictions more perplexing, more keenly felt, more of a crisis than we might imagine?
Institutionally, and thence also practically and immediately, the change in the SSD viewed by us (additive, componential), and moreso as viewed by the child (according to LSV and H&F, relationally, participatively) is resulting in changes at home. The mother is more worried about the child, and perhaps acting differently toward him. The teacher and others are reacting to the diagnosis of ADD and the recommendation of medicating him. The change in the relational-participatory-SSD does go both ways, which I think is part of what Mike was asking about.
What we don't see are more of the details of this picture, and a longer time frame around it. More about the child's behavior in the classroom and at home (what else is he doing to make the teachers worry about possible ADD or ADHD? is he behaving any differently at home as the crisis unfolds?), more about the mother's behavior (how is her behavior toward him changing as the school-and-diagnostician impact her?) at home, and ultimately more about what happens next (this is the first 2 months of a much longer study).
I take it that what we have here is the hypothesis of a precipitating crisis in the relational-SSD, and I think the paper establishes the plausibility of the hypothesis and of the theoretical conception of the SSD (though maybe not so clearly stated) behind it, but perhaps does not quite establish a case for "revolutionary development", but only for the first stages of a developmental crisis that must play out over a longer timescale.
Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition
University of California -- San Diego
La Jolla, CA
On May 16, 2010, at 2:13 PM, mike cole wrote:
> David et al--
> David has a far better mastery of the notions of neoformation in relatation
> to SSD and central/peripheral lines of development than I do. There is much
> in his note I find puzzling and interesting, but am unable to appropriate
> sufficiently to paraphrase for purposes of the present discussion. I agree
> entirely on the relational notion that SSD is a relational concept and
> (following at least from Dewey!) reject the notion of situation as being
> external to the child, psychologically speaking. But I struggle with the
> idea of psychological processes that are entirely internal as well.
> Consequently, i restrict my comments here to join David in asking where
> there is evidence of development, let along revolutionary development, in
> this paper. It is there rhetorically in the introduction, but I cannot see
> evidence of it in the data presented. Andrew scans with his eyes at school
> and with his feet at home. Assuming scanning with feet preceded scanning
> with eyes does not by itself indicate development does it?
> The period of time for this fragment of the larger project introduces Andrew
> after he has been in school for a while, so we do not know the history of
> scanning with eyes, whatever we think of its developmental status relative
> to scanning with feet. In fact, so far as I can tell, we have no evidence
> for processes of change of any kind such that we could say, for example,
> that practices at home influenced practices at school or vice versa, or that
> we see the process of development in situ.
> What am I missing?
> On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 9:08 PM, David Kellogg <email@example.com>wrote:
>> 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> From: Larry Purss <email@example.com>
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Is the Transition from "Roaming" to "Scanning"
>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> 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 <email@example.com>
>> Date: Saturday, May 15, 2010 4:03 am
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Is the Transition from "Roaming" to "Scanning"
>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>>> 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.
>>> On 15 May 2010 08:55, David Kellogg
>>> <email@example.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
>>>> 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
>>> TRANSLATE. I
>>>> 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
>>>> David Kellogg
>>>> Seoul National University of Education
>>>> xmca mailing list
>>> Visiting Researcher
>>> Wits School of Education
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>>> Johannesburg 2092
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