In 2016, the scientific and pedagogical community from different countries is celebrating the 120th anniversary of the birth of L. S. Vygotsky, an outstanding humanist, the Russian scientist who made an enormous contribution to the development of the socialization of man in nature, culture and society.
The interview reveals the contribution of Lev Vygotsky in science and education, his main scientific achievements being drawn particular attention to. His innovative concepts in pedagogy and psychology are far ahead of time and are relevant up today. Lev Vygotsky put forward ideas that disclosed the principles of cultural development of human individual, his/her mental functions (speech, attention, thinking), and explained the internal mental processes of the child, their relationship with the environment. Lev Vygotsky introduced a number of terms and concepts that are the basis of modern psychology and pedagogy. Among them there are «higher mental functions», «interiorization», «mediation», «signification», etc.
There extraordinary versatility Lev Vygotsky is emphasized in the paper. He is known not only as a psychologist, but also as a philosopher, methodologist, teacher, therapist, and even as the author of the brilliant theater and literary reviews. There are also facts about Vygotsky’s scientific path and his biography.
The importance of Vygotsky’s ideas in the development of the educational process is highlighted. The scientist laid the most important principles of the child education. Such concepts developed by him as «zone of proximal development», «social situation of development», «critical age», «sensitive periods in the child development» are still successfully used by leading psychologists and educators. He made a huge contribution to the development of ideas about the origin and development of speech, its role in the development of thinking.
The whole galaxy of prominent scientists were raised under the influence of Vygotsky. Closest students and colleagues were the author of the activity theory A.N. Leontyev, the world-renowned neuropsychologist A.R. Luria, the author of the concept of the child’s mental development D.B. El’konin, the author of the theory of stage development of mental activity P.Ya. Galperin.
Lev Vygotsky is famous on the international scale: his works are translated into 19 languages. Research centers and institutes based on the approach of Vygotsky and developing his ideas exist today in many countries, e.g. in France, Portugal, Brazil, Angola. Seminars, conferences and congresses in different parts of the world are devoted to his ideas scientific.
This paper is based upon the ideas of the psychological school of L. S. Vygotsky, A. N. Leontiev and A. R. Luria and presents a critical analysis of currently popular and allegedly successful projects of teaching human language to apes. The paper shows that the authors of such studies and their promoters ignore qualitative differences between psychological mechanisms of human and animal communication, as well as their functions in behavioral regulation of both. This is explained, in particular, by the fact that the human-animal comparison originates from some visible and functional similarities of certain aspects of their communicative behavior. Moreover, the observed differences are recognized as quantitative distinctions, but not qualitative ones. In this paper a critical analysis of data submitted by such projects is presented. The outcome is as follows. Though apes, especially in vitro, can use some symbolic means (language symbols) to manipulate the behavior of others, none of the animals, subjected to such experiments have acquired an ability to control themselves in the context of certain social (conventional) requirements. Meanwhile, according to L. S. Vygotsky, the arbitrary regulation of one’s own behavior with the use of symbolic means as «psychological tools» is what determines a human as a being, qualitatively different from an animal. Moreover, this arbitrary regulation has emerged in the course of historical development through human labor (common, socially-induced and tool-mediated) activity.
Hence, the conclusion is that if the most important features of human language (its use on the way of mastering one’s own behavior and regulating one’s own mental processes) is ignored, this leads to inadequate interpretation of the data collected in animal behavior studies, as well as to biological reductionism of human activity explanation.
The paper presented texts of the three previously unknown Lvygotsky’s journal notes and comments on them. These texts were published in mid-July and early September 1917 in the Jewish weekly «New Path» under the pseudonym «L.S.» and «W». In these texts, Lev Vygotsky describes the features of the political behaviour of the Jewish population in connection with the revolutionary events in Russia. On the one hand, a clear discrepancy between the activation of party work and political rhetoric is mentioned, and on the other hand, reduction of the significance of Jewish communal life is highlighted. As a key characteristic of social and psychological wellbeing of the Jewish population Vygotsky singles out absenteeism, i.e. the lack of interest in politics. Eventually the scientist captures the increase in uncertainty in the Jewish environment and fear of the future political, social and economic reforms in Russia. In the comments on Vygotsky notes, there are definitions relating to the various features of the activities of the Jewish political parties and public organizations, information about various policy documents and staff characterized by social and political situation before the elections in the Consituent Assembly (Uchreditel’noe Sobranie). Particular attention is paid to the analysis of stylistic and structural features of the commented text construction. By implicit quoting the relationship between Vygotsky’s texts and the works of other authors is identified.
Particular attention is paid to the author’s attitude to religious texts, which allows to select a characteristic feature of the «double vision» of real events of the revolution against the background of the Jewish history. The comments help to single out features of the political identity of the young Lev Vygotsky in the period between the two revolutions, which is important to study his biography and understanding of his world view.
The paper presents the detailed comments on the review of L.S. Vygotsky on the famous Russian ballerina E.V. Geltser’s performance during her Gomel tour in the autumn of 1922. We present a reconstruction of the cultural context which is quite essential for understanding multiple lines of the plot covered in the review of Vygotsky.In the analysis of the text the importance of the distinction between artificial and natural movements introduced by L.S. Vygotsky’s when considering the uniqueness of expressive movement in the choreography is stressed.
It is shown that the uniqueness of cathartic experience that has become a central theme in L.S. Vygotsky’s research monograph “Psychology of Art” (1925), in this review is examined using the analysis of classical dance perception. However, we fix the methodological importance for the analysis of Vygotsky’s account of the existing opposition between the classical and the “so-called untaught natural dance” (A. Duncan, M. Fokine), which in turn allows to designate the fundamental differences between “spiritual” and “soulful” experience. The comments to the review are equipped by the detailed references to the theoretical works of the classicists of the Russian theatre (e.g. A.Tairov, Vs. Meyerhold), where the problem of expressive movement and gesture is also given special focus. Analysis of L.S. Vygotsky’s representations on the fact that it is the “indifference” of the ballet to the natural movement, puts it at a particular level, whereas the detachment from everyday things brings to the experience of the great psychological meaning (“not soulful but spiritual”), and thus allows to link his early work with the ideas he developed in his later book “The Psychology of Art”.
Referring to S. Frank’s works, he rhapsodizes about the nature of artistic experience that might fulfill “the incompleteness and imperfection” of a particular situation. Exactly in these comments to the review L.S. Vygotsky’s juxtaposition of “soulful” and “spiritual” being the fundamental importance for perceiving the psychological characteristics of cathartic experiences in the perception of art is fixed.
In addition, the review comprises the specific use of symbolic means for understanding the processes that have been developed by L.S. Vygotsky in the following works: “The history of the development of higher mental functions” (1930), “Thinking and Speech” (1934).
An analysis of the cultural and historical theory of L. Vygotsky is considered. It is shown that in its essence this theory belongs to non-classical psychology. The main ideas concerning the development of the human individual in education put forward by scientists in the framework of this theory are considered.
Keywords: L. Vygotsky;
cultural and historical approach;
development of the person;
zone of proximal development;
theory of developmental education;
zone of potential development;
zone of further development;