My Facebook feed this morning made me happy. Here’s why—
That’s Marian Rich—long-time friend, colleague and member of the current International Class of the East Side Institute—holding a copy of the new Second Edition of my book, Vygotsky at Work and Play. I’m excited for Marian and others to read it!
Here’s a peek into two of the new chapters you’ll find in Vygotsky at Work and Play.
I devote a chapter (“In Scenes: A Response to Police-Community Antagonism”) to the All Stars Project’s Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids, which brings the All Stars Project’s performance approach to youth development to bear on the intensely conflict-ridden relationship between police officers and young people of color. I share how my Vygotskian lens helped me understand more deeply Vygotsky’s explorations into the social nature of creativity and that human beings do not merely adapt to the existing culture but also engage in the culture-making activity. To me, Operation Conversation is a culture-creating performance and therein lies its developmental potential for police officers, young people and communities.
The theme of another new chapter (“Creating Stages Everywhere “) is the creating of zones of proximal development under particularly difficult and harsh circumstances. I illustrate how Vygotsky’s tool-and-result methodology is put to use to tackle three current social issues:
- The non-developmental nature of a medical-model, individualistic approach to ”mental illness.” Here I use Vygotsky’s underutilized writings on “defectology” as a springboard for discussions of the centrality of what he referred to as the “social environment of development” for people with a neurological or perceived psychological difference from the norm. Within this context, I share the social therapeutic approach to the development of children and families.
- The failure of an anachronistic model of schooling and understanding of learning. I bring in the work of Sugata Mitra and his Self-Organizing Learning Environments (SOLEs), and share some important connections I see in his work and Vygotsky’s zones of proximal development.
- The failure of traditional psychological and political approaches to instability, trauma and poverty worldwide. Here I discuss performance activism, an emerging international movement. Performance activists are those who have turned to performance, the performing arts and play to engage social problems and activate communities. I share its origins, some key players, the role social therapeutics has played in shaping it, and its Vygotskian characteristics.
Your feedback will be greatly appreciated, so please order you copy today. And tomorrow (or the next day or next week or next month) let me know what you think.