Lev Vygotsky

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Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky (Russian: Лев Семёнович Вы́готский or Выго́тский, born Lev Simyonovich Vygodsky[1][2]; November 17 [O.S. November 5] 1896 – June 11, 1934) was a Soviet psychologist and the founder of cultural-historical psychology.



Vygotsky was born in Orsha, in the Russian Empire (today in Belarus) into a nonreligious Jewish family. He was influenced by his cousin David Vygodsky. He graduated from Moscow State University in 1917. Later, he worked at the Institute of Psychology (mid-1920s)and other educational, research and clinical institutions in Moscow, Leningrad, and Kharkov where worked extensively on ideas about cognitive development. He died in 1934 in Moscow of tuberculosis at the age of 37.


A pioneering psychologist, Vygotsky was also a highly prolific author: his major works span 6 volumes, written over roughly 10 years, from his Psychology of Art (1925) to Thought and Language [or Thinking and Speech] (1934). Vygotsky's interests in the fields of developmental psychology, child development, and education were extremely diverse. The philosophical framework he provided includes not only insightful interpretations about the cognitive role of tools of mediation, but also the re-interpretation of well-known concepts in psychology such as the notion of internalization of knowledge. Vygotsky introduced the notion of zone of proximal development, an innovative metaphor capable of describing not the actual, but the potential of human cognitive development. His work covered such diverse topics as the origin and the psychology of art, development of higher mental functions, philosophy of science and methodology of psychological research, the relation between learning and human development, concept formation, interrelation between language and thought development, play as a psychological phenomenon, the study of learning disabilities, and abnormal human development (aka defectology).

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