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Lev Vygotsky was born on November 17, 1869 to a middle-class Jewish family.

The social-cultural constructivist was born in Orsha Russia (in what is now Belarus)
in the same year as Piaget. He was the second oldest of 8 children. In 1924 he
attended Psychological Institute of Moscow (1924-34) where he became a major
figure there and carried out research into the role of social and cultural factors in
learning and development. The Russian psychologist's life was cut tragically short in
1934, when he died of tuberculosis at the age of 38.
Vygotsky is best known for being an educational psychologist with a sociocultural
theory. This theory suggests that social interaction leads to continuous step-by-step
changes in childrens thought and behavior that can vary greatly from culture to
culture. Basically, he believed that development depends on interaction with people
and the tools that the culture provides to help form their own view of the world
(Gallagher, 1999).
Vygotsky believed that knowledge "is not generated from within; rather, learning
stimulates and leads development" (Kostelnik, Soderman and Whiren, 2011, pg.
274). He believed that children learn best when adults are able to help scaffold
children though higher-level thinking. That through culture and social interaction
collaboratively guides cognitive development (Kostelnik, Soderman and Whiren,
2011, pg. 274).
Over the course of Vygotskys short life, he published six books on psychology
topics over the course of ten years. Most covered the influence of language, culture,
and social interaction on children's learning. Although Vygotsky introduced his ideas
in the 1930s, they remained virtually unknown until the 1970s. It wasnt until then
when they became a central component of the development of new paradigms in
developmental and educational psychology.
His interest were quite diverse, they often centered on topics of child
development and education. He also explored such topics as the psychology of art
and language. Two of Vygotskys major theories included Zone of Proximal
Development (ZPD) and Sociocultural Theory. These two major theories will be
discussed in this presentation.
1) After reading about Vygotsky and this theories, do you feel that they align to
your idea of education in the early childhood classroom?
Gallagher, C. (1999, May 1). Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky. Retrieved February 10,
2015, from
Kostelnik, M., Soderman, A. & Phipps Whiren, A. (2011). Developmentally
Appropriate Curriculum. New
Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
Lev Vygotsky. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2015, from