Lev Vygotsky

Understanding His Theory

Basic Theory Explaination

Vygotsky believed that the environment and society played a key role in understanding things. He said, esentially, that social learning tends to precede development. Vygotsky emphasized social contributions in development, rather than self-initiated discovery.

Vygotsky argued, "language is the main tool that promotes thinking, develops reasoning, and supports cultural activities like reading and writing" (Vygotsky 1978).

Pros and Cons

-His concept of children learning with assistance takes a key role in classrooms. Teachers are more likely to assist their students, rather than leave them in question.

-His theory was vague and somewhat unclear.
-His theory would be very time consuming to practice.

General Information

Lev Vygotsky was born in Orsha, Belarus, in the Russian Empire. He attended both public and private education classes. His early interests were in the arts, but eventually he turned his attention to psychology and development. He developed his own theory on the subject, but it was vague and unfinished. He died at the age of 37 of tuberculosis.

How is his theory used? Does it still exist in education today?

  • Instruction can be planned to provide practice in the "zone of proximal development" for individual children or for groups of children. I.E. - hints and prompts that helped children during the assessment could form the basis of instructional activities.
  • Cooperative learning activities can be planned with groups of children at different levels who can help each other learn.
  • Scaffolding - a tactic for helping the child in his or her zone of proximal development in which the adult provides hints and prompts at different levels. In scaffolding, the adult does not simplify the task, but the role of the learner is simplified through the graduated intervention of the teacher.