Lev Vygotsky (sometimes spelled Vygotsky) is a key author in developmental and educational psychology., Although he also made important contributions in the field of neuropsychology and founded the historical-cultural psychological approach. His theory and work fit into the context of the proletarian revolution that took place in Russia and in which he participated directly.
In this article we will talk about the biography of Vygotsky and the main ideas and contributions to psychology and other social sciences. We will focus on its relation to the development of evolutionary and educational psychology, but we will also mention its influence on other disciplines.
Biography of Lev Vygotsky
Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky was born in 1896 in Orsha, Belarus, although he grew up in the city of Gomel. At that time, the country was part of the Russian Empire, which was still ruled by a Tsar, although the revolutionary movement that was to give way to the emergence of the Soviet Union would soon flourish. As a young man, Vygotsky wanted to be a literary critic.
In 1913 he began to study law at Moscow University; the grade he could access was limited because he came from a Jewish family. He graduated 4 years later and returned to his hometown; there he began to take courses in psychology and logic. In 1917, the October Revolution took place and Vygotsky engaged in political activity.
Some time later, in 1924, Vygotsky began to gain fame after impressing the Russian experimental psychology community with a talk on neuropsychology. From then on he worked as a researcher and as a professor at the Moscow Institute of Experimental Psychology.
During this period of his life, Vygotsky was a more prolific author than an important instructor in the field of psychology.. However, in 1926 he lost his job due to tuberculosis; he died of this disease in 1934, when he was only 37 years old, leaving a considerable theoretical legacy collected by Aleksandr Luria and others.
Among the most notable works of this author are “Educational Psychology”, “The Spirit in Society”, “The Historical Significance of the Crisis of Psychology”, “The Development of Higher Psychological Processes”, “Psychology of art ”and“ Thought and Speech, ”his most influential book, which was published after his death.
Main ideas of his theory
Vygotsky’s professional life has mainly focused on development during childhood, In developmental psychology and in philosophy of education. However, his ideas were also relevant to areas such as the philosophy and methodology of science, the study of higher mental functions, or the interaction between human beings.
According to Vygotsky, people develop our repertoire of behaviors during childhood from interactions with other people in the environment. In this sense, the weight of culture is very relevant, which explains the internalization of a series of certain behaviors, habits, knowledge, norms or attitudes that we observe in those around us.
So, for example, he defined thought as an internal language and stated that it is acquired by exposure to the speech of others. This internal language would fulfill the function of regulating one’s own behavior, especially during childhood., And during the early stages of development would manifest itself in the external speech of the child to himself.
Vygotsky also attached great importance to the socializing functions of play. This author argued that children internalize cultural norms, social roles or interpersonal skills through play. In addition, the use of symbols and imagination is very relevant in the acquisition of abstract thinking.
The main differences between Vygotsky’s ideas and the views of Jean Piaget, the other fundamental theorist of the time, include the lack of developmental stages, the emphasis on language, and the role of adults in it. learning or emphasis on individuality, interpersonal interaction and the role of socio-cultural context.
Contributions to psychology
Vygotsky is considered one of the most influential authors in many branches of modern psychology, although in his day he did not gain as much recognition as Piaget, Skinner or Pavlov in the world until decades after his death. This was attributed both to his ties to the Soviet Communist Party and to his untimely death.
One aspect of Vygotsky’s theory that has generated particular interest is the concept of the zone of proximal development, the key to learning. This term refers to the distance between the behaviors that a child can perform on their own and what they are able to do with the help of others with greater mastery of a particular aspect.
Vygotsky called the process by which an adult helps a child perform a particular task “scaffolding.”. As the little one acquires a lot of knowledge or skills, educators will have to proportionally increase the difficulty of the exercises in order to continue to benefit from the zone of proximal development.
The emergence of the historical-cultural psychological approach, which aimed to determine the relationships between culture, mind and brain in a given spatial and temporal context, is also attributed to the influence of Vygotsky, as well as that of Aleksandr Luria and other relatives. collaborators.