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

Re: [xmca] Re: Roaming, Scanning and the Objectivity of the SSD/Where is Development

Surely it is in the very nature of 'revolutionary' change, and of critical development as we undersdtand it in relation to child development, that the development may *fail*.

The school has created an environment, including expectations for quiet, sedentary concentration, which, given that Andrew wants to fit in, could force Andrew to develop a new range of behaviours and modus operandi ... or he could fail to make that development, with resulting stigma and exclusion. It seems that it is "line ball" at the moment.


David Kellogg wrote:
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. David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

--- On Sun, 5/16/10, Jay Lemke <jaylemke@umich.edu> wrote:

From: Jay Lemke <jaylemke@umich.edu>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: Roaming, Scanning and the Objectivity of the SSD/Where is Development
To: lchcmike@gmail.com, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
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.


Jay Lemke
Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
Educational Studies
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Visiting Scholar
Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition
University of California -- San Diego
La Jolla, CA
USA 92093

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 <vaughndogblack@yahoo.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 <lpurss@shaw.ca> wrote:

From: Larry Purss <lpurss@shaw.ca>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Is the Transition from "Roaming" to "Scanning"
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"
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>


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
<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

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

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

xmca mailing list

Visiting Researcher
Wits School of Education
6 Andover Road
Johannesburg 2092
011 673 9265  082 562 1050
xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435 Skype andy.blunden An Interdisciplinary Theory of Activity: http://www.brill.nl/scss

xmca mailing list