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Re: [xmca] further thoughts on layers and stages within socioculturally situated practice

I need time to absorb all that Larry and I may not be alone. Meantime, here
is a paper by
Eugene Subbotsky that he said I could pass along and that he believes
relevant to the issue of
layers and stages. His work is always interesting!

On Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 6:13 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> Mike and others reflecting on layers/stages
> I wasn't sure if I should add to your post on definitions and the role of
> superordinate categories as imlpicated  the increasing decontextualization
> of formal definitions. I decided I should  start a new thread.
> As the article states, the cognitive ability to generate decontextualized
> abstract FORMAL definitions is considered a cental ability for
> catergorizing
> persons into IQ subgroups. Acquiring this ability is often viewed as a
> hallmark of individual diplays of intelligence and an excellent tool for
> creating "ability groupings" and people who "lack this innate ability" are
> viewed as "lacking" intelligence.
>  Therefore, if it can be shown that this "ability" is not an individual
> attribute but rather a culturally valued bias implicit in the sociocultural
> traditions of formal schooling, it raises fundamental questions about our
> notions of IQ and what is measured. Every school psychologist as part of
> there professional education should be required to read AND grasp the ideas
> in this article. Thank goodness the sociocultural turn in psychology is
> challenging the basic assumptions in this cognitive model.
> "Developing" decontextualized definitions and abstract ways of thinking
> from
> a sociocultural perspective is a matter of practicing generating "formal
> definitions" in institutional structures which value this particular genre
> as a  performance.
> This article's focus on the centrality of practice can also be seen as
> another example  that can be used to capture the tension in the various
> accounts of the layering/stages antinomy.  If  the culture values
> decontextualized ways of thinking then this "ability" will be privileged
> over more concrete ways of thinking and  be labeled as "higher".  However,
> as the article points out previous ways of constructing are not transcended
> or sublated. Our horizon of understanding expands to include our emerging
> capacity to use formal definitions as an often more efficient practice
> especially in the "assembly-line" institutional structures of FORMAL school
> settings. However, as B. Rogoff reminds us, assembly line practices are not
> ALL pervasive, even in formal school settings. Other models of learning
> co-exist with the assembly line practices. However, the dominant structure
> is formal and the formal tests of vocabulary development capture who are
> efficient in these particular situated genres.
> In the spirit of considering the layering/stages antinomy I want to discuss
> another "skill" that is often judged to be  foundational for categorizing
> persons into ability groups and is often theorized as "innate ability".
> This "skill" is verbal expression which is of central importance in
> American  culture.  I want to suggest this is another example of American
> cultural values [biases], which are historically situated, but are
> often theorized as a universal developmental dynamic.  I will be
> summarizing
> Suzanne Kirschner's account of "verbal expression" as articulated in her
> article
> "The Assenting Echo: Anglo-American Values in Contemporary Psychoanalytic
> Developmental Psychology" (1990) in the journal SOCIAL RESEARCH, vol. 57,
> No.4.
> Suzanne's article highlights how Freudian ideas [and ideals] when
> transported to North America, are culturally transformed when translated
> into a new cultural tradition. The hermeneutical process she articulates
> when giving an historical account of psychodynamic developmental theory in
> America is another example of the sociocultural embeddedness of all our
> theories [including developmental theories]. If one rejects the basic
> premises and assumptions of psychoanalytic accounts, then reading an
> historical account of how these "invalid" notions could so profoundly
> influence cultural notions of development becomes a hermeneutical narrative
> that highlights how historically situated sociocultural processes develop.
> Suzanne points out that American tradition values and  articulates 3
> dominate themes when reshaping,  reframing and reconstituting developmental
> theories from an American cultural imaginary.  Her article documents the
> translation  of  pyschodynamic developmental theory when these European
> notions were TRANSLATED in America.  However,  the historical process she
> articulate in her article specifically for psychoanalytic developmental
> theory is relevant to the translation of other developmental theories as
> they are "borrowed" from other cultural traditions and become elaborated in
> the American cultural imaginary.
> The 3 American values which Suzanne suggests are often implicit in American
> versions of developmental theories  are
>  1) Self-reliance  2) Self-direction and 3) verbal expression.
>  Suzanne believes these 3 values are central and pervasive in American
> cultural imaginaries.  The perceived "lack" in an individual of these
> values is often theorized  as an indication of a lack of maturity or
> becoming stuck at an earlier developmental stage. By examining the value
> assumptions implicit in the cultural biases of developmental theories that
> posit particular human expressions as  "lacking" in the person's
> development
> we can glimpse the pervasive constraints of cultural traditions on our
> theories.
> Suzanne points out the lack of "self-reliance" is viewed as being stuck in
> DEPENDENCY.  Takeo Doi a Japanese psychiatrist points out there is a
> cultural assumption in America that others can help a person ONLY INSOFAR
> AS
> THE PERSON HELPS HIM OR HER SELF.  To help a child become independent "is
> probably the single most important goal of American parents" [Kirschner]
> and
> overdependence is seen as a lack of development.  Developmental progress is
> viewed as displaying increasing self-reliance and detachment from
> dependency
> relationships. The goal of development is the achievement of autonomy and
> the ability to regulate a life of ones own choosing.  Suzanne suggests
> along
> with this bias to valorize self-reliance is a sense of "separateness" and
> "detachment" as one focuses on the capacity to improve ones own life
> The 2nd cultural ideal is the developing capacity for SELF-DIRECTION. This
> cultural ideal assumes one should know what is in ones heart and mind and
> that one should make choices and live in accordance with these inner
> beliefs
> and feelings.  It is by examining the perceived negative qualities of the
> LACK of self-direction that the cultural value of "self-direction" is
> implicated in our developmental theories.  The opposite of self-direction
> is
> COMPLIANCE with someone else's desires which distorts, constricts, or
> suppresses one's true self.  If  one is seen as compliant and ones true
> self
> becomes inaccessible then development is seen as stuck or "arrested" at an
> earlier stage of development where one lacks autonomy. Again the hallmark
> of
> "lacking autonomy" is being DEPENDENT on others to give direction to ones
> life. Robert Bellah in "Habits of the Heart" describes "finding oneself"
> and
> being faithful to that self in one's lifestyle as central values of
> American
> cultural values. [what Bellah calls expressive individualism]
> The 3rd cultural ideal which is implicit in developmental theories is the
> ideal of SELF EXPRESSION.  There is a cultural bias to encourage using
> language as a means of expressing ones own opinions and feelings.
>  Kirschner
> references Joseph Tobin's study of preschool in 3 cultures [Japan, China,
> and the United States.] Tobin reported dialogue from an American school in
> which the teacher asks
> "Do you want juice, Rhonda? Milk? A cracker? What do you want? Don't just
> keep shaking your head. How am I supposed to know what you want if you
> don't
> tell me?"
> Kirschner points out 2 assumptions implicit in this exchange. 1) Everyone
> is
> entitled to freedom of choice and a variety of options 2)You CANNOT EXPECT
> explicitly. In other words you cannot DEPEND on another person to
> your needs.  Takeo Doi in Japan documents a different cultural account
> of development.  In Japan  the cultural ideal is to be able to anticipate
> anothers needs intuitively and it is rude to wait until the other expresses
> an explicit need.  In the American context to communicate verbally is
> highlighted as a sign of higher development. "EMPATHIC COMMUNICATION CANNOT
> As Kirschner summarizes in her article, these 3 cultural ideals imply a
> tradition of hyperindividualism which Kirschner traces to the historical
> situation of America's radical Protestant heritage and its secular
> offshoots.  She suggests developmental theories in America have developed
> along similar lines in their idealization of the self-regulated and
> self-reflective autonomous individual.  In the context of our discussion on
> layering and stages the idea of layering allows recognition of the
> CONTINUING tension between a sense of  DEPENDENCY AND INDEPENDENCE and is
> capable of valueing both sides of the tension.  In contrast the concept of
> stages idealizes one side of the tension and views dependency as a LACK
> of  development.  Seeing human needs as "immature" and "lacking" because of
> being embedded in relations of DEPENDENCY which the person must separate
> from has parallels to the account of developing decontextualized
> definitions.
> As a psychological tool decontextualization and decentering are ways to
> expand a person's horizon of understanding BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF
> RECOGNIZING EARLIER WAYS of being at home in the world.
> Mike, this is another reflection on the discussion of layers/stages and the
> implicit values and judgements within accounts of development.
> Larry
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