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Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies




Summer Institute

Vygotsky Seminar

Spring 2004

Instructors: Vera John-Steiner & Holbrook Mahn
Credit Hours: 3
Place: Mitchell Hall 212
Vera John-Steiner
Office: Hokona 222
Office Hours: Mon. 1:30-3:00, Th. 3:30-4:30
Phone 277-4324
Holbrook Mahn
Office: Hokona 212
Office Hours: Tues. & Thurs. 1:00 - 2:00 & TBA
Phone 277-5887

Course Homepage: http://www.unm.edu/~hmahn/vygotsky2004.html

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WebCT Help Page: Click Here

Course Description and Rationale:
This course will give participants the opportunity to study the work of Lev S. Vygotsky in depth. While Vygotsky has received increased attention recently, much of his work has remained inaccessible to the English speaking world. In the last few years, three volumes of his collected works were published. This seminar will give participants the opportunity to read these works as well as selections from his seminal pieces that have been available for a longer period of time. While there have been multiple interpretations of Vygotsky's work, this seminar will emphasize reading his work. There will be occasional readings of other authors, especially in the beginning when we examine Vygotsky's theoretical foundations, but in general, we will be reading his writings and discussing them in class. A focus for the seminar will be an examination of Vygotsky's seminal concepts and their implications for education.

Course Assignments:
On-line discussion (25%)
-- Regular participation in an on-line discussion set up for this course. To access the discussion group: Click Here. If you are experiencing difficulty, get help Here.This on-line discussion allows us to ask questions, make comments, respond to questions, raise concerns, in essence to carry on a dialogue with our peers and the instructors.

Peer Dialogue (30%) -- An assignment that we have used successfully in past seminars is the Peer Dialogue. In the past we have called it a Peer Exam but with the mania rampant about testing and examining students we felt that the change was appropriate. (We also did not want people to think that a stethoscope was required for the course.)

The Peer Dialogue is designed to give you the opportunity to seek out and reflect upon an issue of particular interest to you and to explore ways that Vygotsky's work helps you to deepen your understanding of the issue. It is an opportunity to explore and develop ideas that are meaningful to you in dialogue with your partner. The Peer Dialogue is based on you developing a question and/or focus that you want to investigate further. We will then assist you in finding a partner(s) with whom you will discuss your question and get their assistance in refining and/or expanding ways to proceed in your investigation. You will then finalize your individual question/topic as it relates to Vygotsky's methodological approach and/or his theoretical framework. You and your partner will be working on your own particular question; however, you will collaborate in the formulation of each others questions. The steps are:
* Select your partner by 2/26
* Meet outside class with your partner to discuss and collaborate on the formulation of your individual questions/topics.
* Inform professors of your questions/topics by posting them on our Discussion Board.
* Begin to do the research to help answer your question, keeping notes of the development of your ideas.
* Bring notes on the day of the Peer Dialogue (3/11 ) when we will set aside the entire period for you and your partner to spend dialoguing with each other on what answers you have found to your questions and what further questions might have been raised.
* You and your partner should divide the sixty or so minutes you will have to discuss your answers and questions.
* Individually you will write a short reflection (3-5 pages) on the Peer Dialogue process, due on 3/25. Please note all references to material that you used in your Peer Dialogue. This project will be worth

Final Project (40%) -- The final project will give you the opportunity to explore an aspect of Vygotsky's work in more depth. It is hoped that this project will be of use in the classroom or in your studies. This project will be open-ended and will allow for considerable creativity on your part. For this project you will be expected to read more from Vygotsky's writings related to the area you choose. We will happy to assist in this process and to help make available his writings to you. You will also be expected to draw from other writings from scholars who have explored the area you have chosen. It is fine if this project flows from or is an extension of the process started in your Peer Dialogue. Below are some areas to which Vygotskian ideas have been applied, from which you may draw. You can also choose to go into more depth in an area that we cover in the syllabus, as well as any other area that Vygotsky studied that you would like to explore.
* literacy
* math education
* learning and development
* cultural psychology
* creativity
* bilingualism
* American Sign Language
* Language Acquisition
You may do either a literature review, report on empirical studies that have revealed aspects of the area through a Vygotskian lens, or conduct a pilot study using a Vygotskian framework. You will be expected to write up your project in a paper of at least 10 pages and to lead a class discussion around your chosen topic. Other forms of representation can be used to supplement your paper if you choose.

Required Texts: Mind in Society ,Vygotsky (1978), Harvard University Press; Vygotsky's Psychology: A Biography of Ideas, Kozulin (1990), Harvard University Press.

Course Reader -- Available in the COE Publications Center

Other articles on-line or distributed in class.

Individuals with special needs
Students with special needs should contact us as soon as possible to ensure that appropriate academic adjustments are met in a timely manner.


Nate Schmolze's Homepage -- One of the best sites on the internet for information on  Vygotsky

XMCA Online Discussion --  A discussion connected to a course on Cultural Historical Activity Theory

Links on Sociocultural Theory

The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia

Microsoft's Encarta Encyclopedia and Dictionary

One Look Dictionary -- Searches 663 On-line dictionaries

Principia Cybernetica Web -- An interesting site with its own theory, but useful resources

Course Schedule

Week One -- 1/20 -- Introductions & quick write on expectations and goals for the seminar.

1/22-- Vygotsky's life and times
Reading -- "On Vygotsky's Research and Life" -- Ghita Vygotskaya;
"His Life" -- Ghita Vygotskaya (Scroll down at this site for the link to this article)

Week Two -- 1/27 --  Vygotsky's life and times continued.
Reading -- "Vygotsky's World of Concepts" Valsiner, Pages 323-339. ;

1/29 -- Overview of Themes in Vygotsky's work -- Background to psychological work
Reading -- Sociocultural Approaches to Learning -- John-Steiner & Mahn (Scroll down the site to find this article in the "Vygotsky in Practice" section.)

Week Three -- 2/3 -- Overview of Themes in Vygotsky's work continued.
Reading -- "The Mozart of Pychology " -- Toulmin

2/5 -- Development of Higher Psychological Processes
Reading -- Mind in Society (MIS) -- Introduction & Chapter 1

Week Four -- 2/10 -- Development of Higher Psychological Processes (cont'd)
Reading -- MIS -- Chapters 2, 3 & 4.

2/12 -- Psychological Analysis of Learning and Development and Implications for Teaching
Reading -- MIS, Chapter 6.
We will allow time for some discussion on the Peer Dialogue and the selection of partners.

Week Five -- 2/17 -- Vygotsky's Methodological Approach .
Reading -- MIS -- Chapter 5, Afterword.

2/19-- Dialectical Materialism & Historical Materialism
Reading -- Dialectical Materialism -- a short overview
Historical Materialiam -- a short overview
Supplementary: The Science of Dialectics -- Engels
Historical Materialism -- Engels

Week Six --2/24 -- Concept Formation & A Functional Systems Approach
Reading -- "A Functional Systems Approach to Concept Development" -- John-Steiner, Meehan & Mahn.

2/26 --
Reading -- Kozulin -- Chapter 5 -- "Thought and Language."


Week Seven
-- --3/2 -- Introduction to Vygotsky's Thinking and Speech.
Reading -- Thinking and Speech -- Chapter 1.

3/4 -- Vygotsky's Theory of Conceptual Thinking
Reading -- Vygotsky -- Thinking and Speech -- Chapter 6, Section 1.

Week Eight -- 3/9 -- Vygotsky's Theory of Conceptual Thinking (cont'd)
Reading -- Vygotsky -- Thinking and Speech -- Chapter 6, Sections 2 & 3.


SPRING BREAK -- 3/16 & 3/18 --Presentations on Peer Dialogue begin week after next.

Week Nine -- 3/23 -- Vygotsky's Theory of Conceptual Thinking (cont'd)
Reading -- Vygotsky -- Thinking and Speech -- Chapter 6, Sections 4 & 5.

3/25 -- Vygotsky's Theory of Conceptual Thinking (cont'd)
Reading -- Vygotsky -- Thinking and Speech -- Chapter 6, Sections 6 & 7.

Week Ten -- 3/30 -- Presentations on Peer Dialogue. Each team will make a short 6-8 minute presentation on the activity. Topics for Final Projects and Class Presentations will be finalized. Teams or groups can meet to plan their presentations. Peer Dialogue Reflections due.

4/1 -- Vygotsky's Theory on the relationship between Thought and Language.
Reading -- Vygotsky -- Thinking and Speech -- Chapter 7, Sections 1 & 2.

Week Eleven -- 4/6 -- Vygotsky's Theory on the relationship between Thought and Language (cont'd). Reading -- Vygotsky -- Thinking and Speech -- Chapter 7, Sections 3 & 4.

4/8 -- Reading -- Vygotsky -- Thinking and Speech -- Chapter 7, Section 5.

Week Twelve -- 4/13 -- Biligualism.
Reading -- John-Steiner -- "The Road to Competence in an Alien Land: A Vygotskian Perspective on Bilingualism."

4/15 -- Play
Reading -- MIS -- Ch. 7

Week Thirteen -- 4/20 -- Literacy
Reading -- MIS, Ch. 8, "The Pre-history of Written Language"

-- Creativity
Reading "Imagination and Creativity in the Adolescent" -- Vygotsky

Week Fourteen-- 4/27 -- Special Education
Readings -- Vygotsky, "Introduction: The Fundamental Problems of Defectology";
Supplementary: Gindis, "Vygotsky's Vision: Reshaping the Practice of Special Education for the 21st Century."

4/29 -- Affect
Readings -- Vygotsky, "The Problem of the Environment".
Supplementary: Mahn & John-Steiner, "The Gift of Confidence: A Vygotskian View of Emotions."

Week Fifteen -- 5/4-- Psychology & Art
Reading -- Kozulin, Chapter One, "Toward the Psychology of Art."
Supplementary: Vygotsky's The Psychology of Art -- Preface & Chapter 11 -

5/8 -- Class Presentations -- FINAL PAPERS DUE

Week Sixteen -- 5/12 -- Class Presentations

5/14 -- Class Presentations -- Potluck at Holbrook's home.



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