Vygotsky's Developmental and Educational Psychology

Vygotsky's Developmental and Educational Psychology

Vygotsky's Developmental and Educational Psychology

Vygotsky's Developmental and Educational Psychology


Vygotsky is widely considered one of the most significant and influential psychologists of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, true appreciation of his theories has been hindered by a lack of understanding of the background to his thought. Vygotsky's Developmental and Educational Psychology aims to demonstrate how we can come to a new and original understanding of Vygotsky's theories through knowledge of their cultural, philosophical and historical context. Beginning with the main philosophical influences of Marxist and Hegelian thought, this book leads the reader through Vygotsky's life and the development of his own psychology. Central areas covered include:

• The child, the levels and consciousness
• Motivation and cognition
• The relevance of Vygotsky's theories to current research in developmental psychology.

This comprehensive survey of Vygotsky's thought will prove an invaluable resource for those studying developmental psychology or education.


The reaction on labour and speech of the development of the brain and its
attendant senses, of the increasing clarity of consciousness, power of abstrac
tion and of conclusion, gave both labour and speech an ever-renewed impulse
to further development. This development did not reach its conclusion when
man finally became distinct from the ape, but on the whole made further
powerful progress, its degree and direction varying among different peoples
and at different times, and here and there even being interrupted by local or
temporary regression.

(Engels, 1896)

This book is about L. S. Vygotsky, who, with Pavlov, was the most famous and influential Russian, or, strictly, Byelorussian, psychologist of the twentieth century. His influence has also tended to increase in the last 25 years, even though he died in 1934. However, introducing him is notoriously difficult, because there are a number of conflicting views about what his message was, as well as about what its merits were. This introduction outlines my interpretation of Vygotsky. A review of some other approaches to him is given in Chapter 8.

It was central to Vygotsky’s work that he began from principles that he found in Marx to build a form of Marxist psychology. Today, for many in the West and elsewhere, this may lead to the conclusion that he built on foundations of sand and the whole edifice is probably both unstable and undesirable. However, Vygotsky built on some of Marx’s principles, not all of them. So, in thinking about Vygotsky’s Marxism, we need to think of some modified and extended aspects of Marxism, not about classical Marxism as a whole. Some of these are also aspects that Marxism has in common with some versions of the liberal philosophy of history (see Chapter 14).

Vygotsky: an interpretation

Vygotsky’s development went through several periods. During 1918–20, he was committed to what was then called reflexology, in the Soviet Union.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.