THEORY OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND ITS APPLICATIONS
Submitted by: Ishita Sharma (Sem I, Theories of Behaviour and Development)PGSR, SNDT Juhu.10/22/2012
LEV VYGOTSKY (1896-1934)
Vygotsky was born in Russia in the same year as Piaget. Vygotsky was not trained in science but received a law degree from the Moscow University. He went on to study literature and linguistics and became his Ph.D. for a book he wrote on the psychology of art. His works were published after his death in 1934 and suppressed in 1936 and were not known in the West until 1958. In his student days at the University of Moscow, he read widely in linguistics, sociology, psychology, philosophy and the arts. His systematic work in psychology did not begin until 1924. Ten years later he died of tuberculosis at the age of only 38. In that period, with the collaboration of Aleksandre Luria and A N Leontiev, he launched a series of investigations in developmental psychology, pedagogy and psychopathology. Vygotsky ran a medical practice in his native Byelorussia, actively participating in the development of the Revolution under atrocious conditions and almost total isolation from the West. His most famous work is ‘Thought and Language’, published shortly after his death, developed for the first time a theory of language development which both anticipated Piaget's genetic psychology - describing the development of language and logical thinking in young children in the course of their interactions with adults and the world around them.
THEORY OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
To understand Vygotsky´s theory, it is important to look at the political environment of that time. Vygotsky began to work in psychology shortly after the Russian revolution, where the Marxism replaced the rule of the czar. The new philosophy of the Marxist emphasized socialism and collectivism. Individuals were expected to sacrifice their personal goals and achievements for the improvement of the larger society. Sharing and co-operation was encouraged, and the success of any individual was seen as reflecting the success of the culture. Marxists also placed a heavy emphasis on history, believing that any culture could be understood only through examination of the ideas and events that had shaped it. Vygotsky incorporates these elements in his model of human development that has been termed as a socio-cultural approach. For him, the individual’s development is a result of his or her culture. Development, in Vygotsky´s theory, applies mainly to mental development, such as thought, language and reasoning process. These abilities were understood to develop through social interactions with others (especially parents) and therefore represented the shared knowledge of the culture.
Vygotsky viewed cognitive developments as a result of a dialectical process, where the child learns through shared problem solving experiences with someone else, such as parents, teacher, siblings or a peer. Originally, the person interacting with the child undertakes most of the responsibility for guiding the problem solving, but gradually this responsibility transfers to the child. Although these interactions can take many forms, Vygotsky stresses language dialogue. It is primarily through their speech that adults are assumed to transmit to children the rich body of knowledge that exists in their culture. As learning processes, the child’s own language comes to help as his or her primary tool of intellectual transformation. Children can eventually use their own internal speech to direct their own behaviour in much the same way that their parents’ speech once directed it. This transition reflects the Vygotsky´s theme of development as a process of internalization. Bodies of knowledge and tools of thought at first exist outside the child, in the culture of the environment. Development consists of gradual internalization, primarily through language, to form...
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