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Re: [xmca] spontaneous concepts indeed

Temple, there is a little ambiguity in your question. When you talk about "concepts developing" can I presume you mean "can a person learn/master a scientific concept ...". I presume you are not actually asking about the formation of concepts, i.e., their creation, as opposed to their transmission.

I think Vygotsky took a scientific concept as an archetype (or paragon) of the true concept, and in the context of the early Soviet Union, most people would have taken the two as synonymous. But in general, *true concepts* arise in *institutions* of some kind. As I said to Anna Sfard, in my opinion a trrue concept is nearly synonymous to a discourse. (Not quite, because in my opinion, concept also includes the forms of social practice other than discourse.)

So for example, "the Holy Trinity" is a true concept and obviously neither scientific nor spontaneous, and it arises through instruction in a Church institution.

I think *adults *can acquire concepts in all sorts of activity, whether playing computer game or reading books, so long as their acquisition of the word is connected to participation in the relevant social practices. After all, I learnt everything I know about CHAT participating in xmca and reading.

that's how I see it.

Martin Packer wrote:
Anthony, and Temple,

Mind, Culture and Activity has a special issue in preparation, guest edited by Yrjö Engestrom and Annalisa Sannino, titled 'Concept formation in the wild.' I know that some of the people who have sent in abstracts for manuscripts to be considered for that issue are xmca members. Perhaps they would like to take a shot at answering your question.


On Apr 26, 2011, at 6:24 AM, Temple wrote:

I realize some time's gone by, but the question Jody's (Joanne's) post from last week raises for me is this:

Can scientific concepts develop in non-structured learning settings? I mean those other than schooling, team play, church, work, etc. How about from being online a lot - just surfing, playing games, or reading blogs - or from spending one's time at the library or bookstore alone?
It seems to me that such scenarios blur the lines between spontaneous and scientific situations, so to speak.  That is, they are natural, everyday activities that lend themselves to repetition and reflective thinking and naming, where the structure of the activity itself (as opposed to a more experienced mentor) spurs on one's reflection, generalization, and "scientification" of knowledge.

The following statement from Jody's (post sent my thoughts in this direction:
In home schooling described by Holt, certain scientific concepts could be learned by a child at home, driven by their loves and needs.
Could someone point me specifically towards a richer discussion of the development of scientific concepts during one's everyday "alone time"?



Sent from my iPhone

On Apr 22, 2011, at 7:32 AM, Joanne Hyatt <jody.hyatt@gmail.com> wrote:

I'm only a grad student, but I'll risk a spontaneous response.

In 1991 I had no background in education other than my own experiences.
However, compelled by circumstance, I home schooled my fourth grader. My
main thought at the time was, "Even if he only reads at home for a year,
he'll be better off than attending the school he is destined to be bussed
to." My pedagogy was inspired by John Holt's magazine "Unschooling", a
publication edited by Holt and filled with inspiring stories from families
following Holt's theories.

I loved overseeing school at home, and my son and later my daughter thrived
there. However, try as I might, it was exceptionally hard to shift or impact
the approach my children took to schooling. They were already hopelessly
brainwashed by their few years of traditional schooling. While I hoped
they'd want to build a ham radio and communicate with 10-year-olds in
Australia, they'd see a workbook in the supermarket and ask me to buy it for
them. Also, years later, when I became a 4th grade teacher, I found it
impossible to create at school the environment I strove to create in my

Clark Aldrich, in the link Peter supplied, is a breath of fresh air, a more
modern and insightful 'Holt'. He is spot on in his diagnosis of traditional
schooling's failings and offers compelling reasons try a new approach at
home. However, to unschool properly, in my opinion, required a tremendous
amount of work on the part of parents. Today, in my community, more and more
parents are choosing to home school, mostly out of desperation and
frustration with the school systems, but they lack the time and energy to
follow up on Aldrich's compelling implications of what might compromise

I just finished reading Vygotsky's Thinking and Speech. Admittedly a novice,
as I read, I kept looking for more references to a child's learning from
their own experiences. Vygotsky's notion of scientific and everyday concepts
seemed defined more by an instructional pedagogy than by content. He seemed
to discount the idea that a child could develop an interest and pursue it
successfully on their own.  He refers to formal schooling, as he knows it,
as a given, an unchanging institution, and the trick is to figure out how
children are developing there. The concept that many children might learn
outside of such an institution in different ways was absent.  "Schools are
teaching too many children too many things that don’t excite them and have
no relevance to what they need or love... says Aldrich." In home schooling
described by Holt, certain scientific concepts could be learned by a child
at home, driven by their loves and needs.

It seems that today we are trying to reinvent the institution of formal
schooling; how would that affect both Vygotsky's teacher or expert in the
ZPD as well as his distinction between scientific and everyday concepts?

On Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 6:04 AM, Peter Smagorinsky <smago@uga.edu> wrote:


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*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g932564744
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
MIA: http://www.marxists.org

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