re: individual differences
Tue, 16 May 1995 14:04:07 EST

I'd like to comment on Chris Steven's suggestion that:

> Vygotsky's concept of the zone of prixmial development might be elaborated
> in terms of Kelly's ideas...
> teaching that is NOT based on construing the other's construings will be
> successful more or less accidentally...
> Kelly's theory could be used to explain Vygotsky's insights in more detail
> (just as I think Kellyan theory could be elaborated via the social bases of
> Vygotsky's ideas).

The link between Kelly and Vygotsky is a tricky one. Vygotsky's
zone of proximal development is defined as:

"the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by
independent problem solving and the level of potentail development as
determined through problem sovling under adult guidance or in collaboration
with more capable peers" (Vygotsky, 1978, _Mind in Society_, page 86).

The zone of proximal development must be taken in the context of
Vygotsky's general genetic law of cultural development, which states:

"Every function in the child's cultural development appears twice: first
on the social level, and later, on the individaul level; first _between
people_ (_interspychological_) and then _inside_ the child
(_intrapsychological_) (Vygotsky, 1978, _Mind in Society_, p. 57).

The point I wish to make is the rather large difference between Kelly and
Vygotsky on the nature of the _process_ of psychological development. To
Vygotsky, development was a matter of _internalizing the social relations
that I have with others in the zone of proximal development_. Adults and
more accomplished peers literally raise the child's level of development
by virtue of the ways adults scaffold children's activity. Their developmental
level so raised, children then internalize this functioning to reach a
higher level of development. Note here that higher order functioning is an
inherently social process in his theory. One does not develop without the
sign-mediated social activities that are directed and scaffolded by others.
Inner life is determined by the internalization of social life.

This is different from Kelly's corrollary that states, as Jim Mancuso
points out:

> "A person chooses for himself/herself that alternative in a
> dichotomized construct through which he/she anticipates the
> greater possibility for extension and definition of his system.

In Kelly, the child is "choosing for himself/herself" an alternative
in a construct that allows for extension of her system. This is a kind
of "inside out" theory that places primacy on the personal construction of
meaning. It is similar to Piaget's notion of "moderate discrepancy from
a schema" and implies that the child is the primary architect of her own
knowledge systems.

I reject both of these extremes. The closest notion that I have seen that
really includes the personal in the social process of co-construction is
Barbara Rogoff's notion of _appropriation_. To Rogoff, children are
necessarily active participants in sociocultural actiivty rignt from the
start. Over time, they appropriate -- select and transform -- cultural
meanings as a result of their participation in social activity. Rogoff invokes
the concept of appropriation to keep the child in the process of social
construing -- the child participates in her own development, but is always
guided by others in a socio-cultural context.

I'm not sure that Rogoff's model gives sufficient attention to the child's
own role in development. But its a good step in the right direction. I
believe that we need to invent _new_ concepts -- like Rogoff's appropriation --
to deal with the tension between the contributions of the individual and social
relations to development; it is not enough to explain Vygotsky in Kellian
terms, or vice-versa. But I assume that this is what Chis Stevens meant when
he said that

> Kelly's theory could be used to explain Vygotsky's insights in more detail
> (just as I think Kellyan theory could be elaborated via the social bases of
> Vygotsky's ideas).

Thoughts from others?

Mike Mascolo
Merrimack College