Schoolandinstruction Aretheyrevolutionarilyimprovable 091201141313 Phpapp01
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    Schoolandinstruction Aretheyrevolutionarilyimprovable 091201141313 Phpapp01 Schoolandinstruction Aretheyrevolutionarilyimprovable 091201141313 Phpapp01 Document Transcript

    • 1 Pekka Ihanainen (ihanainenpekka_gmail.com); +358 400 540868) SCHOOL AND INSTRUCTION - ARE THEY REVOLUTIONARILY IMPROVABLE Nowadays the discussion about schools and instruction is a major theme in reflecting the applicability of the cognitive approach. Most texts are based on specific empirical studies, and try to describe and understand some particular learning or educational question. Despite many attempts, there has not been very remarkable success: "... no revolutionary improvements in the design of instruction have as yet been derived from such research (Ohlson, 1990, 561)." The Gibsonian ecological psychology has radically criticized cognitive approaches (Gibson,1979, 238-263; Turvey, Shaw, Reed & Mace, 1981), but one might also ask, if it has anything to offer with regard to the practical questions of behavior. However, in this paper, I shall take the Gibsonian approach as a starting point. I shall begin by reflecting on the ecological conception of learning and proceed to questions of social perception and, especially, social affordances. These work as inspirative instruments in an effort to critically surmise today's school and produce fresh ideas for developing the school system and instruction. LEARNING: WHAT IS IT When we try to examine school and instruction, it is natural to start with the question of learning. The task of school and instruction is to help and support students to learn. The question is: what is learning and what kind of learning does school and instruction afford?
    • 2 Within the ecological interpretation, learning, as a quality of the human being, is an ecosystemic phenomenon (Michaels & Carello, 1981; Turvey & Shaw, 1979). Learning takes place in a human - environment system. It is not an event, which goes on inside the individual. The human environment is primarily social. There are, of course, physical and natural surroundings, but they are normally encountered with other people. As social event, learning can be compared to evolution (Michaels & Carello, 1981). It is not a long-term event such as evolution, but it lasts throughout life, in that he/she participates in his/her community and society. As an evolution-like phenomenon, learning is an adaptive process in(side) the social environment that the individual takes part in (Johnston & Turvey, 1980). Learning can be defined as an adaptive and social process in the human-environment system. As social beings we interact with other people. It is our normal every-day situation. In the interaction we perceive, first and foremost, what is most essential to our adaptive activity. For instance, anger and anxiety are perceived first, because they are most essential to a person's adaptive behavior (McArthur & Baron, 1983, 219-220). What is essential to our adaptive behavior, depends on the culture and social setting we are participating in. In addition, the significance of adaptation is in maintaining survival to carry out the goal attainment of the individual. But what do we mean by saying that learning is social and adaptive. To answer that question one has to examine and focus on the ecological conception of social perception and social affordances. Thematically it could be suggested that adaptive learning is learning to perceive and use social affordances. (People, of course, perceive natural objects and events and also those made by themselves, but the human situation is that normally people perceive them in a shared social environment). In the educational context it could be said that school and instructional instruments, operations and processes are social affordances which students learn to perceive and use.
    • 3 SOCIAL PERCEPTION AND SOCIAL AFFORDANCES Social perception might be understood in two ways: 1) as perception of other people (visual aspects, age, gender, movement etc.; the intentions and attentions of others; emotions etc.), 2) as a socially constituted phenomenon (perceiving takes place in a particular society, in specific communities, social groups and in interaction with other people) (cf. Valenti & Good, 1991). Social perception is perceiving of social affordances. In the following I shall concentrate on the description of social affordances. A classic example of social affordances is Gibson's (1979) post- box. It is an affordance which includes the whole postal system from writing a letter to receiving and reading it. Initially little children do not perceive it as a postbox, but learn it through enculturation (see Smith & Ginsburg, 1989, 36). Actually all human made products are social affordances like the postbox, their systemic expanse may vary, but they remain social affordances. It is possible to state that all physical cultural objects, places and events are social affordances, and to perceive them directly, without mental mediation. Together with physical products one has to think of other people as social affordances, too. Ecologically oriented research has perceived that there are individual and interaction aspects within people, which can be directly perceived (reviewed for instance in McArthur & Baron, 1983; Baron & Boundreau, 1987; Smith & Ginsburg, 1989; Valenti & Good, 1991). They are social affordances, which can be detected via invariants in faces, postures and gestures, behavioral movements, voices, and in interaction and cooperation structures.
    • 4 These studies have also revealed that the perceiver can pick up the age, gender and the style of movement (walking for instance) from the stimulus information the person offers. It has also been indicated that the perceiver can detect what a person is going to do (intentions) and on what he/she has focused his/her attention. Emotions are also social affordances, i.e., anger affords avoid- ing and joy encourages approaching. Also personal abilities or dispositions are detectable: dominance, shyness, aggressiveness, nurtureness etc. However, the detection of these dispositions is possible only in dyads or groups, not in single persons. When a person is perceived as an affordance, it might be possible that the personal type could also be picked up directly from the stimulus array the person includes in himself (Baron & Boudreau, 1987). Baron and Boudreau also suggest that it might be better to see attitudes as affordances, when considering their function in social interaction. It could be intuitively asked, if values are also directly detectably from the stimulus array that the person contacted affords. Linguistic expressions could also be interpereted as affordances (see Verbrugge, 1985; Chapter III). It could be suggested that they are primarily social affordances. The understanding and use of language have developed and develop in social settings, where people have learned and learn to detect the associations of perceptual-actional objects, places and events, and the linguistic expressions that indicate them, and then, gradually learn to use them predicatively (see also Dent, 1990 and Zukow, 1990). Words and sentences are the same kind of social affordances as for instance "Gibson's postbox". They are more or less complex social arrangements, and are perceived directly (if they are!) as the postbox is perceived as a whole postal system. In social encounters we interact and cooperate with each other. In these encounters we perceive the dynamic structure of intentions, attentions, emotions, personality expressions etc. Through perceiving those social affordances, their structure and changes, it is possible for us to detect the interaction and
    • 5 cooperation that the situation requires, and to adapt ourselves to them. It could be said that interaction and cooperation are also social affordances that the person in interaction and cooperation is able to perceive and then to behave in accordance with his or her perception. Using language - speaking, asking, answering etc. and discussion - is an essential part of communication. It might be thought that linguistic communication as a totality is also a social affordance. It affords something and can be detected from the social setting, where the communication takes place. What it might afford, is a research question, which has not yet been - as far as I know - answered. However, it could be suggested that communication affords that specific linguistic society or community, wherein the individuals are participating, and it's manner of perception and behavior. Using "Gibsonian jargon" it could be said that communication affords the perceptual-actional attunement of the linguistic community. Linguistic communication in some science society, the way of discussion in some industrial work society, and the language of instruction and studying in some school affords it's perceptual-actional attunement. The description of social affordances can be summarized by the following figure.
    • 6 ┌─────────────────────────────────────────────────┐ ┤ ┌──────────────────────────────┐ │ │encounters in │ physical objects, places │ │ │social context │ and events in social setting │ │ │(adaptation) <─>└──────┬─────┬─────────────────┘ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ ┌──────────────────┴─────┴─────────────────┐ │ │ │ people/companions │ │ │ │ in social setting │ │ │ │ -intentions - interaction and │ │ │ │ -attentions cooperation │ │ │ │ -perceptual structures │ │ │ │ awareness to be - communication │ │ │ │ realised in structures │ │ │ │ language use │ │ │ │ -emotions │ │ │ │ -personality │ │ │ │ dispositions and │ │ │ │ type │ │ │ │ -attitudes │ │ │ │ -values │ │ │ └──────────────────────────────────────────┘ │ └─────────────────────────────────────────────────┘ Figure 1: The complex of social affordance. This summary is to be interpreted as the physical environment and social reality being perceived directly as they objectively exist, and they are used to adapt to that social situation, which is formed by those specific physical and other people's social affordances that the social setting includes. The nature of social affordances Affordances are historical and contextual, especially social affordances (Reed, 1989). This means that when considering the nature of social affordances, one has to study their involvement with the developing and actual culture. They are culturally mediated, which does not mean mental mediation. On "a macro level" social affordances and their perception is entangled with the existing culture, for instance, western. A book, for instance is quite a different social affordance for
    • 7 an American and a Finn than for a member of some primitive culture. But it might be different for an American and Finn, too. In American and Finnish culture the book might have a different status for the average person, and for that reason the perceptual-actional attunement to the book is dissimilar for Americans and Finns. On "a middle level" the attunement to social affordances is bound to a real and actional functional gathering of interacting people. It could be called the attunement enveloped by the community. Let us take a book as an example again. In an university community a book is a part of the scientific system: research, reporting, popularizing. As an instrument of university work a book is encountered for instance in preparing for exams (reading), in making summaries, as a source of studies etc. They all form the perception and use of a book in a way that is specific to the scientific community. In every-day use, in life or residental communities, a book is a social arrangement, which includes a writer, printing house, bookshop, library etc. For the average person a book might be a status object, it is associated with free time, for instance. This kind of aspect might form the perception and use of the book, which is specific to the inhabiting communities of middle-class people. In school communities a book has it's own "habitus". It is part of the whole school system: an instrument for teaching and learning, a source of tasks, a substance for exams etc. For a student it is mainly a given object of the school system, not an object of self interest. It is a tool for studying and especially for spending time with homework. These characteristics constitute the perception and use of the book, which is particular to school communities. When a social affordance is examined from within some social group, on "a micro level", its perception receives finer substance for attunement. If we imagine that there are three subgroups in the classroom - those who conscientiously participate in formal instruction, those who are interested in
    • 8 the subject outside the school (e.g. rock-fans) and students, for whom sports is "a question of life", and think what kind of affordance a book might be afforded to them, we could get the following "definitions". The concientiously participating perceive and use a book as an important working instrument, rock-fans perceive and use it as a belittled tool and athletes perceive and use it as a selectively interesting instrument. These are presumed descriptions only, but it is possible to show by them, how the social affordances are constituted in particular social groups or subgroups. Personal values, intentions, emotions etc. also "colour" the attunement to perceive and work with affordances. You might see a book as an object into which one enters into. It might be an object in which one sinks emotionally or reads as an outsider. The book could be glanceable, utilizeble etc. THE ORIGIN OF SOCIAL AFFORDANCES In the previous chapter I described how social affordances are contextual and historical. In brief this means that social affordances are born and develop in historically changing interaction and cooperation situations, in which people take part. Human interaction and cooperation are behaviors which might be called intentional. They are not activity in itself, but activity which somehow is directed to something. The goal of the activity might be unconscious, but it has some more or less obvious goal. And when the task is to consider the origin or genesis of social affordances, attention has to focus on the question of intentions and intentionality. Intentionality contexts as roots for social affordances According to Reed (1989), and Turvey and Kugler (1987) intentions can be crystallized as follows: intentions are realized in the relationships of agent and his/her task
    • 9 environments, they are the processual ability of the agent, who is perceiving and performing in some task context. The essential thing in trying to define intentions is the content of intentions (see Searle, 1983: "conditions of satisfaction"). As an experienced phenomenon intentions are some kind energy or force, which individuals have, but that does not tell much about the substantial quality of intentions. It has to find out, what really is the content of intentions. In this paper I will just present a definition of intentions as a given thing (for a more detail reflection, see chapter IV; about the question of the intention to use affordances, see Reed, 1989). The content of intentions is the activity, which individuals alone or as social partners or groups maintain in the human-environment system. For instance, when I intend to write about social affordances, the content of my intention is the process of the activity, which I carry out when I read texts about social affordances, when I think about them, and when I write about them. The content of my intention to write about social affordances is also formed in the discussions and cooperation which I have with my colleagues, and in the communicative interaction in conference groups or the like, in which I participate to deepen my conceptions about social affordances. These more or less social situations, in which activities happen, are intentionality contexts, in which social affordances are born and develop. If we think about ecological social realities in which people participate - especially family, peer and interest group situations, and school, work and free time communities - they are those intentionality contexts, mentioned above, and social affordances are firmly established in them. Cultural and communal environments, and social settings have to be examined as situations, which "create" both the observeable social affordances and the attunement of individuals to perceive and use social affordances. The former are examined earlier in this paper, and I shall now briefly consider the latter.
    • 10 The content of the activity (or the actual interaction and cooperation or the intentionality context), might be the kind that constitutes the perceptual-actional attunement of aspirement or creating a career and competition. This kind of attunement contributes to the perception, action, interaction and cooperation, in which the affordances are encountered. For instance a colleague might be perceived as an opponent, not as a partner of cooperation. Intentionality contexts might also constitute the attunement of reclaiming expectations or established aims, the attunement of finding and developing oneself, the attunement of indifference or insignificance etc., and these attunements are the basis for encountering other people for example as authorities, companions or "non-persons" etc. Of course it is possible to see a different kind of attunement than the previously mentioned. They are my personal examples of attunement that intentionality contexts might "produce". After this general discussion about intentionality contexts as the origins of social affordances, I will proceed to the contemplation of schools as intentionality contexts, which constitute social affordances of the school today. THE SCHOOL AS AN INTENTIONALITY CONTEXT: THE QUALITY OF SCHOOL AFFORDANCES It might already sound tautological to say that school - as every other social institute - basically grows from the interaction and cooperation people implement, and it might be claimed that the interaction and cooperation people upheld in school has to made explicit. This is worth doing, but in this presentation I will not concentrate on it and just take for granted that interaction and cooperation are the basis of intentionality and social affordances. The school is a culture institute, and has especially developed
    • 11 in the industrial world. It is an essential part of industrial (division of labour) societies. One of the important features of industrial societies is that all segments of life are institutionally distributed: the school is a place for education and training, work places are a habitat for survival and produc- tion, free time events are also diverged as many kinds of institutional spheres which try to uphold a meaningful life that has a tendency to disappear in the scattering process of the industrial (modern) life style. As a fragment of industrial life, school retains the splintering of society. School has the interaction and cooperation forms, which are specific to the schools of the industrial world, and that is why the school can or has to be apart from the other spheres of society. That means that, interpreted as intentionality context, the content of interaction and cooperation, which goes on in the schools, creates and develop social affordances, which afford differentiateness. The perception and use of these affordances educates attunement, which has the quality of spliting and shattering oneself. Interpreted as a culture institute the school is part of the whole industrial world. The school can also be interpreted as a social institute, which means that the interaction and cooperation that takes place in the school maintain the economic and ideological purposes the society has. In western societies these goals are the reproducing of the labour force, the retaining of the existing power and submission relationships, and the isolation of teachers and students from the external society and their preservation into an "introvert" school. The interaction and cooperation forms that function as means of economic and ideological purposes of western societies, generate and elaborate the intentionality contexts of the school in the western industrial world. The reproduction of the labour force and the interaction and cooperation forms included in it create and develop an intentionality context that can be described as a maintenance
    • 12 of the dominating society and the relationships in it. This kind of intentionality context is the basis on which social affordances arise, and where one perceives and works with them. There are, of course, many social affordances in this kind social context, but their quality could be defined as following the social behavior of previous generations: school as a social institute affords the repeating of the existing social arrangements. The retaining of the existing power and submission relationships produces and keeps up social layers, and preserves authority structures that are included in society. As an intentionality context the interaction and coordination activities, which these power and submission relationships constitute, can be depicted as the supporting of inequality and the demanding of obedience. The social affordances, which rise from this kind of activity, have the character of subserviency. It is also the sound of the attunement or resonation, which this kind of intentionality context generates. The isolation and preservation means that the interaction and cooperation is directed at the internal processes and problems of the school. The orientation to the external questions of the society is only a curiosity. Students, for instance, might have a task to analyse and describe the content of a newspaper. The activities in the situation of isolation and preservation maintain artificial group coherence, because "the work, which is done at school", has no relevance to real activities in society - school work is almost always some kind game of outsiders. Artificial coherence is actually real anguishing loneliness, and there are also many students and teachers, who are in fact alone in the schools today. It could be noted that schools, which have a stutus of isolation and preservation, are the intentionality context of a solitary and individual (private) interaction and cooperation. In fact, it means that the activity, which occurs in an atmosphere of isolation and preservation affords no interaction and cooperation, but privateness. It is also the "colour" of
    • 13 attunement, which this kind of intentionality context "procreates". After describing the school as an intentionality context of the existing culture and society, I will proceed to the study of the teaching and learning situations of the school. The school includes two main interaction and cooperation processes: the mediation of a subject matter (knowledge) and social participation (see for a more detailed examination chapter II). I suggest that they are fullfilled as unconnected processes. It can be observed for instance by examining how they go on in the structures of the work at schools. The mediating of subject matter happens in accordance with the structure of the curriculum: periods of teaching of some subject. The social participation in school life takes place in accordance with a timetable structure: lesson, break, lesson etc., school day, school week etc. This means that mediating the subject matter and participating in school life do not run into each other; they proceed in different cycles. These two interaction and cooperation processes of schools are the basis for my interpretation of the intentionality contexts which the teaching and learning situations of the school might generate (see Chapter IV for the more detailed treatment of the topic). It might be felt that the primary activity of school is mainly focused on mediating subject matters or social participation. The first mentioned is a situation, where the teacher transmits the teaching substance (knowledge) to the students, who are the objects of transmitting. The teacher is the distributor of knowledge, and his/her task is to carry out the cognitive instruction. The teaching is teacher-centered. I call this kind of interaction an event of distribution of know- ledge. The student's activity might be more durable than that which takes place during instruction, which barely transmits knowledge. The students can acquire the required knowledge by
    • 14 themselves. The teacher's duty is to put forth materials for acquiring knowledge and to guide students. The teaching is student-centered. This kind of interaction I call an event of acquiring knowledge. The interaction might also have a content, by which there is an attempt to mediate the cognitive substance through social interplay. In a way a teacher is the leader of a social group, and the task of the students is to handle the cognitive matter in social events. This kind of interaction I call an event of social interaction, which is cognitively oriented. If the focus of interaction is on social cooperation and interplay, it means that the teaching situation is understood as one event in a shared social life among teachers and students. The cognitive aims and activity do not have a specific purpose; they become the content of interaction, if the situation allows it. The teacher is an equal adult member of the group, and the primary task of the group is the developing of social relations and group forming. This kind of interaction might be called an event of social interaction, which does not have a specific cognitive function. The described types of teaching and learning interaction (of course they are mixed many ways in real settings) are the field for intentionality contexts that the school settings include. The instruction, which transmits knowledge can be characterised as repeating and imitating. The students are mainly passive. The participation is external: a teacher repeats the given subs- tance and students are subjectless objects. Sociability is not permitted into a teaching situation. Both the teacher and students have to mask it in their behavior which means the denying or nullifying of oneself as a social being. The interaction is mainly the encountering of the things to teach and learn, not human intercourse. This kind of relationship between agents and their interaction environment creates an intentionality context, which is possible to define as extinguished reactivity to "ready offered" teaching
    • 15 substance. Teaching is a reacting activity to fulfil the trans- mitting of the required knowledge. Studying is a reacting answering and the like to the reactions of a teacher. The reactions of teachers and students are extinguished, because they do not have internal motivation to interact. The extinguished reactivity is the basis for social affordances of school events, which only transmits knowledge. It also gives the quality for the attunement of individuals and the social setting they establish. In instruction, in which knowledge is acquired, the activity of teachers and students is not independent, but controlled. A teacher's activity is directed by cognitive aims, and the actions of students by operations of the teacher. The social events are used to implement instructional aims. This kind of interaction and cooperation creates an intentionality context, which I define as directed activity, which is concentrated on tasks. It is the basis for social affordances and attunement to them. In instruction, which can be characterized as social interaction and cognitively oriented, social participation is the basis of the instruction. The instruction does not have an "open" character, but there is an attempt to utilize it in practicing cognitive instruction. Social participation is manipulative and supervised. This conflict between real and instrumental participation creates an intentionality context, which might be defined as social cooperation, which takes place in the tension between real and instrumental participation or in other words conditional cooperation. This is the field where social affordances develop, and they are perceived and used. It is also a context wherein attention can be educated and attuned to encounter social affordances. In instruction, which takes place as social interaction, but has no special cognitive function, social events are to be
    • 16 participated in as they are happening. There is no attempt to utilize them. The participation is personal, and cognitive tasks and problems are born in this real participation. This kind of interaction and cooperation generate an intentionality context, which could be defined as social cooperation which is maintained by personal interaction or in short as authentic cooperation. It is the basis for social affordances and the perceiving and using of them. The social settings in teaching and learning activities are nowadays- I would suggest - mainly the ones of either transmitting or acquiring of knowledge. This means that the intentionality contexts which take place in the school settings are mostly ones which can be characterized as extinguished reactivity to "ready offered" teaching substance and directed activity which is concentrated on given tasks. They give the quality for social affordances in these settings: the afforded interaction and cooperation is external, passive, repeating and controlled. If the interaction proceeds in trying to establish real social participation, there is a tendency for it to be realized as an instrumental activity and utilized for cognitive purposes. It is now possible to draw a picture of social affordances within the schools of today. As a culture and society institute, the school affords differentiateness and attunement for splitting and shattering oneself, the repeating of the existing social arrangements, and the subserviency and privateness (not interaction and cooperation). And the singular social settings of schools afford only external, passive, repeating, controlled and instrumental activity. When considering the social affordances of the school developed over the previous pages, it is essential to notice that they are nested. What a single setting affords is nested in the
    • 17 affordances the school has as a cultural and social institute. All these social affordances are directly perceivable. They might be only perceptual awareness, not conscious experience, but they are - in any case - the world, which the teachers and students encounter in their everyday life at school. They are the social reality which educate the attention and attunement of people who participate in today's schools. Social affordances of the school and the hidden curriculum The situation of the school described above from the perspective of social affordances is examined especially by educational sociologists (see Giroux, A., Penna, A., 1979; Apple, M., King, N., 1977; Jackson, P., 1968). They point out that existing social and economic institutions are maintained by the curriculum system, classroom teaching and evaluation of today's school (hidden curriculum). The normative and dispositional social and economic meanings (affordances) in the hidden curriculum are communicated to students by the forms of interactions of school life. Students internalize (become attuned to) the values of respecting authority, punctuality, cleanliness, docility and conformity. They learn to be members of crowds, potential receivers of praise or reproof, and pawns of institutional authorities. This all happens in the life of today's school, which affords waiting to use resources, posponing or giving up desires, being quiet, being isolated in a crowd, being patient with respect to authority, suffering in silence, and bearing the continued delay, denial and interruption of personal wishes and desires.
    • 18 Is it possible to see an alternative? Educational sociologists (see e.g. Aronowitz, S., Giroux, H., 1991) have tried to approach the solution of school problems by developing a new image of the teacher. S/he is especially a public intellectual, who tries to be a critical member of the whole society, not only a participant in a school institute. This work is to be done by using border pedagogy, which educates critical and independent citizens. But what would be the alternative, and having it's roots in the ecological conception of learning and sociability? I will next proceed to examine that question. LEARNING AND INSTRUCTION RESTATED The ecological conception about learning rests on sociability. Learning is a social phenomenon, which happens in all those interaction and cooperation situations where people are and work together. The social situation determines what kind of learning could take place. In the previous pages I have provided a brief outline of learning situations which are common in the western school system of today. The interpretation of school affordances has been critical. Is it possible to see some other alternative? Could the ecological point of view offer new social situations and contexts, where pedagogy inspired by the Gibsonian approach could take place. The modification of the Zone of Proximal Development My starting point in this work is the idea of the Zone of Proximal Development. It's origin is in the Vygotskian tradition (Vygotski, 1978; Wertsch, 1984; Valsiner, 1984). Reed (1989) has given new substance to it from an ecological perspective. I will now proceed first to briefly describe the Vygotskian conception of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and then present the modulation of it made by Reed, and finally my own interpretation.
    • 19 Vygotsky (1978,86) defines ZPD as "the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by individual problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers. The Zone of Proximal Development defines those functions that have not yet matured but are in the process of maturation, functions that will mature tomorrow but are currently in an embryonic state. These functions could be termed the "buds" or "flowers" of development rather than the "fruits" of development." In the neo-vygotskian movement Wertsch (1984) for instance has focused on the problem of guidance carried out by adults and cooperation with more capable peers. He proposes that to understand the mechanism of guidance and cooperation, it has to comprehend the situation definition, intersubjectivity and semiotic mediation, which takes place in learning and instruction processes inside the ZPD. The development through the ZPD can be explained as redefinition of the situation. It happens through intersubjectivity of learners and adult and peers. The intersubjectivity, in which the redefinition occurs, is carried out through semiotic mediation. Tharp and Gallimore (1988, 33-39) examine ZPD in the school context. They describe four stages of ZPD, through which assisting performance develops. In the first stage, performance is assisted by more capable others, and the task of that stage is the transferring from the regulation of others to self-regulation in assisting. During the second stage, the performance is assisted by oneself (speaking aloud for instance). However, this does not mean that performance is fully developed or automatized. In the third stage, the performance is developing and automatized. It is not dependent on others or self-assistance. Inside the fourth stage, the performance might de-automatize, which leads to falling to previous stages. Tharp and Gallimore note "that de-automatization and recursion occur so regularly that they constitute the fourth stage in the normal development process". Valsiner's (1984, 66-67) model of ZPD has connections to the
    • 20 Gibsonian approach. He writes that the idea that "the structure of child's environment defines the set of possible actions that are available to the child at the given state of environment ... is closely related to the concept of affordance in contemporary ecological psychology." According to Valsiner "the major function of adult-child interaction from the perspective of child development lies in the regulation of child-environment relationships." Valsiner develops Vygotskian ZPD as following: it consists of the Zone of Free Movement (ZFM) and the Zones of Promoted Actions (ZPA). The ZFM structures the child's access to different areas in the environment, and it is a changing and socially constructed structure of the child-environment relationship. Inside the ZFM it is possible to specify subzones that organize the child-environment relationship further. These are the ZPA, where assistants attempt to promote certain actions with particular objects and events. Reed (1989, 36) takes the previously mentioned concepts of Valsiner as starting points, when he develops the ecological modification of the Zone of Proximal Development. He enlarges them to systemic human-environment fields, inside which development goes on. He calls them Field of Promoted Action (FPA) and Field of Free Action (FFA). The FPA encompasses the affordances to which a child`s (or adult`s) attention and activities are directed by others. The orientation is done through encouragement and indication that ones fellow men carry out in social interaction. The FFA encompasses affordances and activities, which the individual is capable of working on by himself/herself, and which one is permitted to do by social circumstances. The FPA and FFA comprise the Zone of Proximal Development. Learning and development happen inside that zone, when the FPA attains more refinement and sophistication and, at the same time, there is an overall increase in the FFA. It is essential to notice that FPA and FFA are indistinguishable. They are fields, which are interlocked in the social intercourse of -
    • 21 conscious or unconscious - assisting performance. Although Reed has been positively influenced by the Vygotskian concept of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), he also criticizes it. He notes (1989, 37) that from an ecological point of view, the notion of ZPD as a general range, reflecting the general difference between a child`s individual cognitive function and that same child`s ability to function with instruction, is not viable. He thinks that ZPD emerges only in highly channelled and specialized environments. The emergence of ZPD is dependent on different skills, and it is strongly affected by ecological, cultural and individual factors. For these reasons he argues that "there is no general ZPD, only specific ZDPs for different skills, reflecting particular relationships that emerge between FPAs and FFAs". Could the ZPD be connected in natural situations of intercourse? When learning is understood primarily as adaptation to life and activity surroundings, the idea of ZPD has to be considered in customary social environments: family, groups of interest and free time, work communities. Could they be environments, which are both highly channelled and specialized? A family as a social environment is not a specialized learning environment. However, from the point of view of the growth and development of a child, s/he is continuously - consciously or unconsciously - guided to learn new values, norms and habits of behavior. The fields of free and promoted actions are not always conscious, but in any case, they are the reality of every-day activity, according to which the quality of interaction (free and to be promoted or promoted) is constituted. Interest and free time groups, and communities are also environ- ments for new learning. Purposeful instruction and learning situations might be part of interest groups, and also within the environs of free-time social intercourse learning might be the existing reality. In other words, also the interest and free- time surroundings can comprise unique ZPD, in which free
    • 22 and promoted actions are interlocked as a developmental continuity. In work communities the assisting of new and inexperienced comrades in performing assignments is a natural phenomenon. Also in them the "to be able to" and "to be learned" comprise a zone, where interaction of employees is realized. The work activities might of course be boring routines which will mean that the willingness to promote and to receive support will weaken, and then the existing intercourse could be depicted as "a field of being prevented" Through these discussions I have tried to show that the dependence of the ZPD on highly channelled and specialized environments does not mean only specific instruction and learning situations. The ZPD can be realized in natural interaction environments, or it might even be suggested that authentic learning in social environments really happens in the ZPDs, regardless of being labelled ZPDs. But how can Reed's modification be connected to school learning? I feel that Reed`s conception about the uniqueness of ZPD is very essential, when considering pedagogical and instructional consequences. Before considering this I would like to comment briefly on the developmental substance included in the ZPD. The substance of the Zone of Proximal Development Vygotskian tradition has employed the ZPD primarily from the perspective of cognitive or intellectual development. In Reed`s modification the substance of development is the perception and use of affordances, the education of attention to affordances and the activities that the affordances of the situation could afford. In the ecological view the affordances and the use of them already consist of emotions and different kind of social activities and phenomena. Despite this, I think, one has to emphasize that the development through ZPD is not only the development of cognitive problem solving and the like, but it is
    • 23 the developing of the entire person, wherein intellectual or "cognitive" and emotional, actional and social factors belong as a comprehensive unity. From the perspective of thinking, feeling and doing, the unity of a person (a student and a teacher, for instance) can be seen as abilities of analysing, joining in and performing. Analysing is a developing ability of perceiving and using "cognitive- like" affordances. Joining in is a developing ability to be ac- quainted with the emotional affordance structure of people and a situation. Performing is a developing ability to work with natural, human-made and social affordances. Inside the field of free action, we encounter, or it is possible to encounter, the abilities of the individuals, and the group they constitute, to analyze, join in and perform. This FFA is the basis for perceiving the potentionalities of people in the situation to analyze etc., and to try to create the field of promoted action for the development of the personal unity of the abilities of analyzing, joining in and performing. The realization of FPA takes place through assisting procedures performed by the participants and the assistants in the situation. The Zone of Proximal Development as a teaching and learning situation The Zone of Proximal Development is always unique. It always has to discover and recreate. It has to find out what is the field of free action in the situation; what is the free individual and joint attunement or state of intentionality, and the ability to perceive and use affordances. Through this it is possible to try to enter into and observe the potential attunements and abilities, and then to realize and establish the field of promoted action. Let us take an example. There is a group of students, who have to study the philosophy of education. The realization of the FFA can take place as follows. The teaching and studying begins with discussions about personal experiences and views on the topics or themes which
    • 24 have influenced students to form their conceptions about man, reality, education, encountering other people etc. The students tell about their feelings and impressions when reading scientific literature and belles-lettres, enjoining and consuming art and music presentations, familiarizing themselves with educational thinkers, philosophers etc. This kind of discussion reveals the field of free action, when the purpose is to study the philosophy of education, for instance. It also tells something about the possibilities to proceed in trying to refine and sophisticate the conceptions of the questions of the philosophy of education: the vista for the field of promoted action. Together they are the unique zone of the proximal development in the mentioned situation, and the task of pedagogical efforts is to obtain it as conscious and flexible as possible. The example shows, I suppose, that the pedagogical or instructional ZPD has to be created in a unique and authentic social setting. In the school it is especially the task of teachers. I shall try to reflect on that process briefly. The first thing is to encourage the students (people) to "open" or explicate their individual FFAs, and through that process to focus on the FFA of the group in question. This cannot happen by beginning to teach directly, but by encouraging the individuals to express their acute and developmental states which they brought to the studying situation. This might take place through discussions, free performances and exercises, in an atmosphere of open, unprejudiced and reliable interaction. By this process of free expression, the FFA becomes public and shared, which means that the attunement of the group and it`s members, and shared social affordances are explicitly known. The established FFA is the basis for a growing FPA. The expressions of one member or a teacher might attune in another person something, which for him/her means a promoted perception and action. Through development - fast or slow - the grown FPA changes into FFA, which is the ground for the growth of a "new" FPA. Together they form the instructional ZPD.
    • 25 The first phase in the creation and realization of instructional ZPD is the explication of the FFA of the social setting in question. The second phase is the recognition of the FPA situation which happens through the definition of task of the existing social setting. For instance in the social setting of studying the philosophy of education this transition, i.e. the task definition, might take place as follows. On the basis of the discussed conceptions of man, reality, education etc. the teacher can indicate how they are individual views of the same questions that the philosophy of education handles. S/he fixes the individual views to general problems and concepts in the philosophy of education, and in that way shows the study procedure. The content of the FFA is already implicitly part of the common discussion of the philosophy of education, which will be the substance of the study course. The teacher makes public the FPA of the situation. It has to be noticed here that the "creation" of FPA happens all the time on the basis of students' authentic conceptions and opinions (FFA), not programmatically on the basis of the teacher's repertoire of questions about the philosophy of education. The third phase is individual and shared working with tasks discussed during the phase of task definition. It can take place by individual and shared reading, and making references, presenting papers and discussing relevant questions, debating about them etc. During this working phase FPA might change into a FFA (and that is the aim of the studying), which is the basis for further FPAs. During and after the working phase the evaluation of the studying and learning processes takes place. It is not evaluation from outside, e.g by exams or the like, but discussion about the acute social biography of the participants and the unique study group. The content of that discussion grows from personal and shared views, how opinions and conceptions
    • 26 explicated in the first phase have been refined and become more sophisticated during the task definition and working phases. This evaluation processually defines and redefines the actual FFA and the growing FPA. However, every teaching and learning situation is always unique. For instance, the studying of the philosophy of education is one entity. The course consists of separate settings, all are unique, which means that the ZPD has to be created or realized again every time the study group is together. If that is not done, it means that the social setting cannot be a real setting of studying educational philosophy (or some other subject), but something else, which has (unconscious) aims and an intentionality of it's own. The realization of ZPDs is rooted in the intentionality context that the quality of interaction and cooperation maintain. I have discussed earlier about the intentionality contexts that are common in the schools of today. I now claim that the ZPDs, described above, can not be established in the intentionality contexts of extinguished reactivity to "ready offered" teaching substance and directed activity, which is concentrated on given tasks. It is impossible, because there is no room for broadcasting/announcing the individual and shared FFAs in them. The social cooperation, which takes place in the tension between real and instrumental participation, does allow the formation of ZPDs, because of the free sociability of the starting point. However, there is a risk that FFAs and FPAs are forced to be established by the advice of a teacher. This is also a problem in the previously mentioned example of the study group of the philosophy of education. If the teacher "compels" the students to direct their social participation to some intellectual aims, it would mean that the authentic ZPD, including emotional and social factors, cannot emerge. An intentionality context of social cooperation, which is maintained by personal interaction does not have that risk. It might, however, cause an ZPD, inside which it is impossible to handle the problems of the philosophy of education, for
    • 27 instance. Nevertheless, it means that the established ZPD can exist; it gives room for the "real" FFA, and the instruction (e.g. social interaction and cooperation) has to proceed according to it. THE ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE SCHOOL From an ecological point of view the school situations are contexts where teachers and students encounter and work affordances which are not only explicite knowledge, but a variety of all kinds of social phenomena. This means that there is a conflict between creating an instructional ZPD and ZPD, which is constituted by the authenticity of the situation. Is this conflict possible to solve? It is tempting to cry out a solution that pedagogically meaning- ful ZPDs are out of question in the schools today. The school is too formally defined (forms and contents of instruction, the progress of instruction) that a successful ZPD could take place and grow as a purposeful instructional ZPD. This extreme outcry would mean that the whole school system must be modified. I think that this kind of conclusion is justified. The school of today has to be put under scrutiny. However, I do not want to blunt myself by such an enormous task. I should like proceed with small steps and to think that it is possible to be directed towards the solution of the conflict between authentic and instructional ZPD. It might simply be that one can learn to perceive authentic ZPDs and then promote them into instructional ZDPs inside the existing school system. This will, however, require that the relationship between teacher and students is seen in a new way. Teacher-student relationship The traditionally understood teacher-student relationship is based on a situation, where a teacher has the knowledge and skill of the subject or activity to be taught. By different kinds of teaching methods s/he tries to teach them to students,
    • 28 who do not have the knowledge and skills in question. This arrangement includes a double dualism: 1) a teacher possesses knowledge and skills separated from the environments where the knowledge and skills do exist, 2) that possessed by a teacher can be transferred to be possessed by students. This kind of conception is criticized by a Gibsonian ecological view. The application of the Gibsonian subject-environment reciprocity or oneness to teacher-student relationships means that they can be understood only as a unity, which is born and maintained by the interaction and cooperation between teacher and students. The teacher-student relationships are based on shared affordances in the social settings in question. A teacher does not distribute or mediate something which s/he has, but in teacher-student relationships the shared perception and use of (social) affordances of the situation is realized. The shared encountering situation of affordances is based on the practice of interaction and cooperation, which comes true in a setting (see intentionality contexts above). The ability of a teacher and students to analyze, join in and act receive their expression in this interaction and cooperation practice. However, they are not private properties of subjects, but unique shared abilities constituted by the authenticity of the situation. In this shared encountering of affordances the solitary Zone of Proximal Development is born. From the ecological perspective the basis of the encountering of a teacher and students is not a teaching and learning relationship, but the shared performance of a task, which takes place in the situation. There is tension between the more experienced (a teacher) and less experienced (a student). Inside this tension a common activity is materialized as a cooperation of individuals with different experiential abilities, not as a distributing and receiving of possessed knowledge and skill. If we think of a class teacher activity in a classroom situation, the shared task is primarily the participation in
    • 29 social interaction. A teacher is more experienced in carrying out the sociability, and in the living of the social life of the class, the teacher`s behavior gets the students to perceive new social affordances and to perform according to them. The shared social activity develops individual and group attunement of all participants to meet and act with more sophisticated and multiplying affordances relevant to the situation. In a situation of this kind, the teacher does not teach, but the less experienced (students) and also the more experienced (a teacher) learn in a shared activity. The situation described reveals that learning takes place in an authentic cooperation of more and less experienced participants. Defined as a teacher-student relationship it is a question of a master-apprentice relationship during apprenticeship, in which the learning of students does not happen specifically by teaching, but by cooperating with a more experienced adult or peers (see Reed, 1991). I have so far spoken only of the social intercourse as school work and shared tasks. Is it not true that certain specific learning tasks are proper school work, which take place in social contexts? I think that this question in particular includes the core of problems of traditional teaching and learning conception. The primary tasks of school work are not the specific learning tasks, but the learning of sociability during cooperation. The specific learning tasks are included in it, but they have to be seen as subordinate to social cooperation. When beginning school and during the class teacher system, a teacher is primarily a master or expert in carrying out the sociability (or s/he should be). Secondly s/he is an expert in a subject matter of the school. How then does the "teaching" of a subject matter take place? When the basic task of a class teacher is putting social expertise into practice, s/he becomes orientated to the subject
    • 30 matter only through it. The mutual cooperation of a teacher and students defines how the expertise and experience of a teacher, with regard to reading, writing, counting, biology, geography, history and natural sciences, becomes the content of the social interaction and cooperation. For example, the teaching of reading cannot be formed by specific learning tasks, but the social intercourse arouses the cooperation, in which a teacher's ability to read and to indicate affordances, which includes reading, is the "substance" for learning. Students can learn reading in cooperation, which has somehow focused on reading, but which is not specifically teaching. Nowadays it is a common phenomenon that many children learn to read in natural interaction settings of homes and other environ- ments without specific teaching. In principal school work should be the same kind of natural cooperation without the specific purpose to teach the subject matter by certain teaching methods. What would this mean for the learning of contents of different traditional school subjects is of course a difficult question dealing with the developing of school practice. But it is a question worth looking into, and there are some references in the literature, in which learning and cognition taking place in natural interaction settings are studied (see Lave, 1989). The previously mentioned examination of the teacher-student relationship as an expert-apprentice cooperation taking place primarily as social participation, belongs mainly to the inter- course inside a class teacher system. When subject teachers are the more experienced experts in the mutual cooperation of teacher and students, the implementation of a sociability is not a teacher's basic task any more (although it is always very essential). A subject teacher is an experienced performer of the work tasks of his or her own knowledge and skill disciplines. What does this mean in school practice? Traditionally subject teachers teach their subject matters to students in specific teaching situations. They are artificial, although. For instance a biologist cannot be a biologist in a
    • 31 teaching class, but only in performing the tasks of a biologist. This means that subject teaching (e.g. biology) should be developed in a direction that could occur in natural task environments and situations. The primary task of subject teachers should be the performing of work tasks of his or her own discipline, and students would participate in it as less experienced work comrades. This would mean that learning would not happen by teaching, but by cooperation, in which a teacher is an expert of her or his work field, and where students would learn from the more experienced when they perform shared tasks. This kind of arrangement could also connect the school and the rest of society closer to each other, because the shared tasks might somehow be associated to needs and problems of the near-community and the whole society. The teacher-student relationship has been defined as a master or an expert-apprentice relationship, which takes place during ap- prenticeship (e.g. school time). In addition it is based on coo- peration, and not on the separateness of a teacher and students. The developmental continuity is essential to it. It does not commit itself only to separate teaching situations. To summarize, the expert-apprentice relationships of the school might by their content be of two kinds: they root themselves 1) to a social intercourse, in which a teacher is mainly a social- ly more mature and competent adult (a class teacher), 2) to professional expertise, in which a teacher is mainly an experienced professional of his or her knowledge and skill discipline (a subject teacher). The transformation of a teacher-student relationship from social intercourse to cooperation based on expertise of some discipline cannot happen radically. It can take place since students have a need to proceed from school work, based on social intercourse, to cooperation, based on professional competence. This means that tight age and class levels, and group forming has to be more flexible. BACK TO BASICS
    • 32 This examination has proceeded from studying social affordances to a critique of the western school system, and beyond to the searching for an alternative, inspired by Gibsonians, for the arrangements of school and instruction. The Zone of Proximal Development, modified from the neo-vygotkian conception, and the regestalting of the teacher-student relationship, have been established for the foundation of the instruction, which has its roots in real socialility. Before ending this paper, I would like to comment on the Gibsonian psychological basis of interaction and cooperation, which takes place inside the Zone of Proximal Development. According to the cognitive conception the mental construction made by agents is the basic event in teaching and learning (cf. Aebly, 1991). The Gibsonian basic event is resonation or attunement. The question of attunement is not examined explicitly inside the ecological movement, but implicitly it is always present, when the ecological way of thinking is contrasted with the cognitive one. What does attunement mean? It means the state of an organism in an organism-environment system. If we think of a student in the learning situation, the attunement means his/her actual state in the encountering of the affordances relevant to him/her in the social setting, and in the working and cooperating with them. I think that the attunement is the same as the intentionality (see the systemic definition of the intentionality chapter IV) in every acute and longstanding social event, in which an individual participates. The attunement or intentionality is not a phenomenon outside social settings but becomes realized only in them. It is not the processing and constructing taking place inside the individual, but the ability to perceive, know, feel and act, which is realized and changed in the social field of individuals. The systemics of an attunement is fulfilled as a oneness of affordances, which have a structure and function (meaning), and a person, who is picking them up and putting them to use. Picking up and using is a changing and developing energetic and
    • 33 living state, which, however, cannot exist without affordances. Or, it might be said that the attunement is a part of affordances or vice-a-versa. In a way the attunement is an unstructured state, because it is changing and developing all the time according to affordances (structures, meanings) that the subject is encountering and learns to encounter. But because it is impossible to examine the attunement apart from affordances, it also includes the structurality. As an experience the affordances are structural energetic formations, while the attunement is, as an experience, an energetic and unstructured structurality of affordances. The phylo- and ontogenetic history of man is the developing of attunement, and when teaching and learning is examined attunement is studied. How can pedagogy and instruction support the development of attunement? Previously it has developed the idea of the Zone of Proximal Development for the pedagogical context for the attunement taking place in the immediate social environments, and the teacher-student relationship gestalted as an activity oneness between the more and less experienced, in which the attunement can change and proceed. If teaching is examined from the perspective of attunement, its task is to support the attunement towards more sophisticated affordances of objects, places, events, humans, interaction and cooperation. The previously mentioned aspect can be non-linguistic. The task of instruction is also to support the attunement to linguistic affordances. What would the support be as a pedagogical practice? I have earlier noted that school work has to give up the traditional instruction and proceed towards natural cooperation, in which it is learned without particular teaching. And I think that it could be assumed that natural cooperation is also the basis for supporting attunement. The starting point of a teacher's activity to support the attunement of students to different affordances cannot be the implementing of the plan of instruction or something else. This is impossible, because the activity that takes place according
    • 34 to a scheme does not make room for the publishing and sharing of the authentic individual and social attunement. The basis of the activity of a teacher has to be his/her social expertise to work in the jungle of immediate social affordances, and his/her ability to allow the attunement to social affordances to grow as an attunement to affordances of contents of subject matter. This is also the basis for developing of linguistic attunement, because the authentic sociability is the "cache" for shared linguistic affordances. The verbal sociability produces and refines the attunement to words and linguistic events, which are shared and explicit instruments of communication included in social interaction and cooperation. I have dealt with use of language based on the theory of affordances in detail in the text "The perceptual language and instruction" (Chapter III). Despite the fact that attunement is examined as a phenomenon in the organism-environment system, it, however, clearly refers to an individual. As a psychic basic event it is still "the back- ground" of a comprehensive basic process, which, according to the Gibsonian view, is the continuum of perception and action (including cognition) which takes place in the social context. The essential thing of the perception-action unity is the uninterruptedness: there is no different perceptions and actions (cognitions). The continuity of cognition (perception and action) means that individuals and groups of people in certain social environments are more or less actively in contact with their own history of close and long-term experience or attunement, and also with their future experiences. With respect to pedagogy and instruction this means that, to be successful, they cannot withdraw from the uninterrupting process of experiencing, which in certain social settings happens to be realized at that moment. This processuality is the basis of the idea of a unique Zone of Proximal Development elaborated. So that the pedagogy and instruction could lean on the
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