Summary of the third day, Wednesday, July 2, 2014 by Adriane, Constance and Michael

On this third day we woke up still tired but exited from the previous day. Luckily, the latter took over the former after everyone filled up on coffee and on the (yummy) pancakes!

Ann-Mia and Jenny very successfully led the day, leaving as much space as possible to the students discussions and making sure everyone could participate.

The first lecture was given by Professor Bert van Oers and was untitled “Gaining evidence for the educational value of play: a theory-driven methodological approach”. He presented the theory he has built to develop a methodology that would allow to study the educational power of children´s play. He introduced us to his distinction between the molar and the molecular levels of activity. The molar level is a more basic level of description, whereas the molecular is a more fine-grained level of analysis. What is significant is that the molar level cannot predict the molecular level (and the other way around): for instance, it is not because children are engaged into a play activity that we can predict what actions they will do. This point was very well illustrated later on by Milda Bredikyte’s presentation.

After some more and much need coffee, we had three students’ presentations.

The first one, by Guilherme and on neuroscience, left a very strong and good impression to the audience. He made us realize that neuroscience, which is seen as a very popular and “cool” topic, is, in his own word, actually not reductionist, and in our own word, extremely interesting.

Then, Irina presented her work on digital means as meditational artifacts in learning. She illustrated the potential of these instruments, and we are very much looking forward to the next steps of her research on the role of teachers, and how they cannot be replaced by digital means.

Finally, Maria talked about her comparative study of aesthetic education in Russia and Italy. As she tested her very interesting method on us – asking us to match paintings and abstract shapes – we were very pleased to learn that we could show a satisfactory levels of aesthetic education.

We then had a lovely lunch break, where some of us were pleased to discover yet another Russian dish (“Kuretsa”). Just before the start of the afternoon, a strong need for physical exercise was voiced, and Esther generously offered to organize a yoga session for the next morning.

Our second lecture was given by Professor Pentti Hakkarainen, one of the founders of ISCAR, and it was untitled “Challenges of doing research on c-h development”. He shared with us the challenges he has faced in his researches, and the need to study the double development of the child and of childhood. In his words: it is like studying someone moving in a moving train. As he talked about how development is embedded into the evolution of childhood, his illustration about the creation of TV programs for babies left the audience stricken and wondering about the future of childhood. A break had to be improvised for everyone to recharge their batteries for the rest of the afternoon after such an intense talk.

Claudia, researcher and teacher, then presented her research on the development of the symbolic function through role-play in her classes. We were amazed by the wealth of data she presented and by the practical consequences of her experiences, which help children to move from teacher directed play, to organization with peer and finally to individual practice. She also demonstrated how Galperin can be used in combination with Vygotsky in a very successful manner.

The last student presentation of the day was made by Glykeria, who also is a teacher, and was on how children grasp natural concepts. Her aim is to look at the children’s everyday knowledge of clouds and how it changes. She positioned her approach as originally socio-cultural, but raised the question of how it may belong or move towards a cultural-historical one. Because many of us face this issue, it was decided to explore it further after diner.

The last lecture of the day was given by Doctor Milda Bredikyte on the “Study of developmental acts in practice”. Her contagious enthusiasm gave life to the concepts of play she was presenting. We also had the chance to see part of her data, illustrating very well the molecular level of description presented at the beginning of the day.

We finished the day on a round table, where we all had in turn the chance to reflect on the day. On top of the remarks illustrating the increasing interest of the participants in the topics discussed, three important things came up. First, a strong sense of belonging to a professional community centered around Vygotsky’s ideas started to appear. Second, that we were grateful for Ann-Mia and Jenny’s organization of the day. And finally, we all want to thank Maria and Natalya for the wonderful job they have been doing and that made it all possible.

We all felt tired at the end of the day, but willing to continue our search. Luckily, this is just the third day!