Archive for the ‘Vygotsky’ Category
The literature rooted in Vygotsky‘s theories has focused on the more strictly cognitive aspects of the process of the co-construction of mind, leaving the affective nature of these interactions unexplored. The purpose of this article is to describe the affective, volitional face of the zone of proximal development. By drawing on Nel Noddings’s work on the ethic of care, I argue that the interpersonal character of the zone of proximal development closely resembles a caring encounter. In merging caring and the notion of the co-construction of knowledge, I intend to broaden our conception of the teaching-learning process and to enhance our understanding of the roles played by affect, volition, and relationship in cognitive development.
In a book of intellectual breadth, James Wertsch not only offers a synthesis and critique of all Vygotsky‘s major ideas, but also presents a program for using Vygotskian theory as a guide to contemporary research in the social sciences and humanities. He draws extensively on all Vygotsky’s works, both in Russian and in English, as well as on his own studies in the Soviet Union with colleagues and students of Vygotsky. Vygotsky’s writings are an enormously rich source of ideas for those who seek an account of the mind as it relates to the social and physical world. Wertsch explores three central themes that run through Vygotsky’s work: his insistence on using genetic, or developmental, analysis; his claim that higher mental functioning in the individual has social origins; and his beliefs about the role of tools and signs in human social and psychological activity. Wertsch demonstrates how the notion of semiotic mediation is essential to understanding Vygotsky’s unique contribution to the study of human consciousness. In the last four chapters Wertsch extends Vygotsky’s claims in light of recent research in linguistics, semiotics, and literary theory. The focus on semiotic phenomena, especially human language, enables him to integrate findings from the wide variety of disciplines with which Vygotsky was concerned. Wertsch shows how Vygotsky’s approach provides a principled way to link the various strands of human science that seem more isolated than ever today.
What we need, I want to claim, is not knowledge in the form of theoretical representations, but of a very different, much more practical kind. My concern today, then, is with the conditions, the relations between us, that might make possible a more dialogical and involved, less monological and distanced, stance toward our construction of knowledge. Thus, a part of what I want to explore, is talk of a very different kind to theoretical talk, talk to do with a very different kind of knowing: that which ‘floats’ around in an uncertain way within the everyday conversational background to our more institutional and disciplinary lives, on the boundaries of, or one in between, our separate disciplines and orderly discourses. It is a special kind of knowing that – although it has been more properly recognized and identified in the past – has in more recent times been forgotten. I shall call it a knowing of the third kind. For: i) It is not theoretical knowledge (a “knowing-that” in Ryle’s terminology) – for it is knowledge that is only present to us in our everyday social practices; however, ii) it is not simply a technical knowledge of a skill or craft (a “knowing-how“) either – for it is a joint kind of knowledge, a knowledge-held-in-common with others, and judged by them in the process of its use. iii) It is its own kind of knowledge, sui generis, that cannot be reduced to either of the other two.
The Self in Cultural-Historical Activity Theory – Reclaiming the Unity of Social and Individual Dimensions of Human Development
This paper suggests a framework in which the importance of the individual dimension and agency can be reclaimed within a profoundly social and relational view of the self. Juxtaposed with recent research on the self, cultural-historical activity theory is discussed, including its foundational premises formulated by Vygotsky and its conception of the self articulated by Leontiev. Expanded in a number of ways proposed in this paper, this theory helps to theorize the self (a) in its practical relevance, as a lawful and necessary moment in human collective practices, (b) as endowed with the capacity to generate new cycles of practice, and (c) as immanent in activities that position individuals to contribute to meaningfully changing the world. The concept of ‘self as a leading activity’ is discussed as a way to capture what the self is, where it is located, and what its purpose and relation to society are.
The authors describe an evolving theoretical framework that has been called one of the best kept secrets of academia: cultural-historical activity theory, the result of proposals Lev Vygotsky first articulated but that his students and followers substantially developed to constitute much expanded forms in its second and third generations. Besides showing that activity theory transforms how research should proceed regarding language, language learning, and literacy in particular, the authors demonstrate how it is a theory for praxis, thereby offering the potential to overcome some of the most profound problems that have plagued both educational theorizing and practice.
The centrality of technology in human life has manifested itself throughout history in all cultures and civilisations. This paper examines the role of new technology in restructuring processes of thinking and knowing, and its impact on social practices of knowledge building. It highlights the transformative force of new technology, necessitating changes in our “habits of mind‟ to manage the increasing complexity of the contemporary information landscape. Also, it shows that convergent new technology remediates processes of shared knowledge building, creating virtual, collaborative, continuously evolving arenas of activity. Thus, new media contexts afford new forms of social collectivity in virtual space, requiring a fresh understanding of collective action and creation, the ability to belong to different social groups that may not meet face-to-face, the skills to artfully reconnect thought and practice in a simulated world, and the confidence to establish new relations to authority.
Collective Development in Open-Source Communities – An Activity Theoretical Perspective on Successful Online Collaboration
Online collaboration is often organized without strong predetermined rules or central authority, which is why coordination and ways of organizing cooperation become crucial elements of collaboration. This article investigates how online projects can overcome problems of dispersed work, solve inherent contradictions and utilize tensions in the activity system to develop collaborative artefacts and practices. Empirical evidence is based on a detailed observation of a successful open-source project — the K Desktop Environment (KDE). Our findings show that successful collaboration is based on coat-tailing systems. Coat-tailing means to inextricably bind together individual action and collective activity through careful design of complexes of technological, mental and cultural artefacts.
Reviewing multiple traditions of social analysis of work, skill and knowledge this article seeks to renew the possibility for a critical, integrated approach. Contextualizing and then criticizing the ongoing ‘up-skilling/de-skilling impasse’, I offer discussion of several alternative conceptual resources that may contribute to a more robust appreciation for learning and human development, potentially unified under a suggested ‘Use-Value Thesis’ on the labour/ learning process. It is argued that recognizing ‘use-value’ sets the stage for a broader systemic understanding of the contradictory processes (e.g. up-skilling/de-skilling, engagement/alienation, co-operation/conflict) that occur simultaneously in all workplaces under capitalism, and in turn offers a means to more coherently assess the full range of human learning.