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Re: [xmca] MARKED activity within a Dynamic Systems Developmental Model

Whoa, Phillip!! That is fascinating!! "release of responsibility."

I am wont to talk about zopeds as involving shifting divsions of
labor/responsibility. Perhaps an important sociocultural marker of the norms
of the settings we work in.


On Mon, Apr 11, 2011 at 7:22 PM, White, Phillip

> Martin, at the elementary school i'm most closely involved with, while once
> we used the metaphor "scaffolding", now we talk about 'gradual release of
> responsibility', particularly around questioning strategies (beginning what
> a broad, open question ("What are you working on here?", to, say,  "What
> might happen if ....").  We think of this as an activity of providing
> momentary supports through, most usually, language - but also physical
> models, pictures, sign language and movement can be used as supports.
> i'm also thinking that for many teachers, 'scaffolding' isn't so much as a
> concept, as it is an instructional strategy... as in "What supports did you
> provide for the student?  How did you scaffold her learning?"  (do you think
> that this is a function of English?)
> i recognize that a scaffold is seen as a rigid structure, yet for a teacher
> in the moment, a scaffold is put into place in an ephemeral moment - and
> then it's gone - disintegrated.  just as you steady a companion who steps on
> a slick bit of pavement.  a support at the elbow, and then a release.
> i think that much of Gordon Wells' work that he did in OISE are great
> examples of these kinds of activities wherein teachers - as well as fellow
> students - are negotiating and renegotiating shared and not so shared
> understandings/learnings.
> (gads, i cringe using the term "activity" because i know how fraught the
> conversations have been regarding activity, action, goals and all that.
>  luckily this conversation is being woven through email and so one doesn't
> have to so concretely nail down terms. [more mixed metaphors here?])
>  phillip
> Phillip White, PhD
> University of Colorado Denver
> School of Education
> phillip.white@ucdenver.edu
> ________________________________________
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf
> Of Martin Packer [packer@duq.edu]
> Sent: Monday, April 11, 2011 4:25 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] MARKED activity within a Dynamic Systems Developmental
>      Model
> Jay,
> On the one hand, the "scaffolding" concept is an interesting one to me,
> because its value seems to stem entirely from its metaphorical character.
> When Wood, Bruner & Ross coined the term in 1976, in their paper on
> tutoring, they provided no definition. They introduced the term in the
> following way:
> "More often than not, it [tutoring] involves a kind of 'scaffolding'
> process that enables a child or novice to solve a
> problem, carry out a task or achieve a goal which would be beyond his
> unassisted efforts. This scaffolding consists essentially of the adult
> 'controlling' those elements of the task that are initially beyond the
> learner's capacity, thus permitting him to concentrate upon and complete
> only those elements that are within his range of competence" (p. 90). This
> is one of several metaphors in the paper - they write also that "The
> tutorial function... withers away" (96), and at times they mix their
> metaphors, as when they write that "scaffolding begins by luring the child
> into actions that produce recognizable-for-him solutions" (96)., or when
> they analyze the "functions" of scaffolding in terms of the sequence:
> "recruitment," "reduction in degrees of freedom," "direction maintenance,"
> "marking critical features," "frustration control," and "demonstration," few
> of which are things that any of us would imagine that scaffolding -- in the
> dictionary sense of a temporary platform from which to erect or repair a
> building -- can actually do. The conclusion of their paper includes the
> statement that they have been describing "an interactive system of exchange"
> (99), and makes no mention at all of scaffolding.
> In short, scaffolding functions in their paper solely as an everyday
> concept, not as a scientific concept. Yet it has evidently stuck in the
> memory of readers of the article (though why it gets attributed to Vygotsky,
> who was not even cited in this paper, is another question), presumably
> because of the graphic image it supplies - even though the image actually
> runs counter to any proposal that tutoring is "an active system of
> exchange."
> This is a good example, then, of a concept that is memorable (though
> perhaps it doesn't explain very much) because of its 'inner image,' its
> 'sense.' The importance of sense is something Vygotsky returns to repeatedly
> in T&S, and the persistence of scaffolding could be taken to illustrate his
> point.
> On the other hand, scaffolding strikes me as completely inadequate as a
> concept, even as an everyday concept, for the function it is supposed to
> perform. I completely agree with you that we are trying to understand fluid,
> dynamic systems. Scaffolding is a static, rigid concept. Scaffolding isn't
> even a mechanical system, it is merely a mechanical structure. Mechanical
> systems move through defined states. But they don't do what organic systems
> do, which is evolve, and grow. What do psychological systems do? They
> develop, and they are tutored, of course, and we need to find concepts that
> are adequate to grasp and articulate these processes. 'Tutoring' is itself a
> psychological-system concept (Bruner was after all an Oxford don at the
> time) that might be defined in such a way as to have explanatory value. But
> to try to explain tutoring in terms of scaffolding is to reduce the
> psychological to the mechanical.
> As for eliminating the concept of 'concept,' as you pointed out, concepts
> are interrelated in complicated ways, and our concept of 'concept' is
> related to our concept of mind, of thinking, of intelligence, and so on.
> There is certainly to much 'Cartesian' theorizing, but I don't see that
> removing one of these concepts is going to make any difference. Certainly
> not if the plan is to replace it with "thematic node"! We need to work to
> change the whole structure of generalization, and Vygotsky's approach of, as
> David K puts it, hollowing other people's concepts out and putting new
> content in seems to me a far more workable approach.
> Martin
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