the epilogue to developmental theory
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The Epilogue to Developmental Theory. Walkerdine’s Stance. How do we formulate a “liberatory pedagogy” ?.

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walkerdine s stance
Walkerdine’s Stance

How do we formulate a “liberatory pedagogy” ?

“…It is precisely this and its insertion into a framework of biological capacities which ensures that the child produced as an object of the scientific and pedagogical GAZE by means of the very mechanisms that were intended to produce its liberation.

“It is perhaps the supreme irony that the concern for individual freedom and the hope of a naturalized rationality that could save mankind should have provided the conditions for the production of a set of apparatuses which would aid in the production of the normalized child…

walkerdine s critique
Walkerdine’s Critique
  • Truth claims in developmental psychology not purely objective/ rational
  • Does not adequately account for social domain of development
  • As a theory, it is historically and socially situated: Epistemology does not stand outside such historical conditions (p. 163)
  • Her thesis demonstrates the “inseparability” of scientific truths and conditions of their emergence, development and transformation
historical conditions that produced developmental theory child centred pedagogy
Historical Conditions that Produced Developmental Theory & Child Centred Pedagogy
  • Rise of science beginning in 17th century
  • Capitalism supported as alternative to Religion; science promoted as a form of liberation.
  • With Capitalism: Rise of administrative systems - permitted normalization & social regulation
  • Science became tool for normalization: e.g. monitoring behaviour, population statistics, Social Darwinism gains influence
  • Observations become basis for a normative pedagogy
  • Pedagogy normalized to have children learn through observation ( not the pre-conceptions presented in books)
historical conditions continued
Historical Conditions Continued
  • Assumptions about the “naturalness” of the development of rationality
  • Sought scientific solutions to social problems
  • Child and Mind can also be an “object” of scientific study
  • Regulate development of child to ensure “fitness” as an adult
outcomes of piagetian approach
Outcomes of Piagetian Approach
  • Naturalization of mathematical thinking and scientific concepts as “individual capacities” developing in a “quasi-spontaneous” fashion (given the right environment)
  • Conceptions (e.g. “place value”) treated as properties of mind which “emerge” quasi-spontaneously
  • Monitoring development of learner-concepts rather than teaching facts
  • ‘Medicalization” of developmental differences; Classroom as laboratory, Child as object of the pedagogic GAZE
  • Pedagogic “facts” naturalized and isolated, stripped of context.
  • Pedagogy as normalized and regulated stage-wise progression with understanding as conscripted goal
questions re piaget inhelder s staged development theory
Questions re: Piaget/Inhelder’s Staged Development Theory


Piaget (1972)

“However, recent research has shown that subjects from other types of schools or different social environments sometimes give results differing more or less from the norms indicated This does not mean that formal structures are exclusively the result of a process of social transmission.

“A second interpretation is possible which would take into account the diversification of aptitudes with age, but this would mean excluding certain categories of normal individuals, even in favorable environments, from the possibility of attaining a formal level of thinking.”

“In other words, our fourth period can no longer be characterized as a proper stage, but would already seem to be a structural advancement in the direction of specialization.

  • Piaget ( 1972): previous stages of development and order of succession are universal and comparable to embryogenesis although rate of development can vary across individuals pre-operatory: (addition is not reversible) concrete-operations ( e.g classification systems, Montessori Method)
  • What happens after Stage 6: (Formal Operations period between 12-15 years old )? Mental and psycho-physiological evolution?
  • Difficulties: Piaget (1972) diversification of aptitudes* when generality of cognitive structures already acquired (e.g. some can reason hypothetically)
  • With language comes formation of symbolic play & internalization of representations
an alternative
An Alternative…

Socio-Cultural Theory:Offers a different explanation for differences.

Vygotsky & Mead circa 1930’s

REPORT (2005)

Developmental Science 8:6 (2005), pp 492–499

One-year-olds comprehend the communicative intentions behind gestures in a hiding game

mead the significance of the symbolic gesture
MEAD & the significance of the “symbolic gesture”

"The pre-existence of social processes to the self-conscious individual"

To the extent that the animal can take the attitude of the other and utilize that attitude for the control of his own conduct, we have what is termed mind; and that is the only apparatus involved in the appearance of mind.

The plant or the lower animal reacts to its environment, but there is no experience of a self

One attains self-consciousness …as he finds himself stimulated to take the attitude of the other. There he is in the position of reacting in himself to that attitude of the other. (p.229)

mead continued
Mead Continued…
  • What is mind? (p.226) "What the human being has succeeded in doing is in [self]-organizing the response to a certain symbol which is a part of a social act so that he takes the attitude of the other person who cooperates with him. It is that which gives him mind”
  • "The relation of the mind and the body is that lying between the organization of the self in its behaviour as a rational member of a rational society and the bodily organism as a physical thing…
  • Gesture as a cooperative, symbolic act: "certain stages in cooperative activities that mediate the whole process... "
  • Different from herd response to signal for danger.....
sociocultural theory in a nutshell
  • Vera John-Steiner & Holbrook Mahn, 1994
  • Emphasis on learning as Activity
  • Human activities take place in cultural contexts
  • Emphasize interdependence between social and individual processes
  • Co-construction of knowledge, mediated by language and symbol systems ( semiotic mediation)
  • Activity best understood when understood in historical context