Lev Vygotsky
At the core of Vygotsky's theory is the sense that children must be actively involved in teaching/learning relationships with more competent others who both learn from children and draw them into fuller membership in their cultural world. ~ J. Tudge & S. Scrimsher, "Lev Vygotsky on Education"

Lev Vygotsky

Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky was born in 1896 in a Russian Jewish family. He received a law degree from Moscow University. At a teacher's college in western Russia, Vygotsky taught psychology where he came across children with congenital defects, like deafness and blindness. As a result, he began to "search for ways to help these children fulfill their potential [which] brought him face to face with issues in cognitive development" (Miller, 2002, p.369). Vygotsky started his work in psychology in 1924 when Russian psychologist, Alexander Luria, gave him a position at the Institute of Psychology in Moscow. Vygotsky, along with Luria and Leontiev, constructed a new psychology based on Marxism; they "wanted to change citizens' thinking from a feudal (landlords and serfs) mentality of helplessness and alienation to a socialistic mentality of self-directed activity and commitment to a larger social unit based on sharing, cooperation, and support" (Miller, 2002, p.370).

Vygotsky extended the ideas of Marx and Engels by developing the idea that because humans transform themselves through labor and tools, the hand creates the mind, which means that the "mode of economic production - for example, socialist, capitalist, or feudal - determine people's working conditions and social interactions. These experiences in turn influence their cognition - cognitive styles, attitudes, perception of reality, and beliefs" (Miller, 2002, p.370). Vygotsky also extended the Marxist principle of dialectical change - "that all phenomena constantly undergo change and move toward a synthesis of conflicting, contradictory elements" (Miller, 2002, p.370). As a result, human and knowledge development go through this exact process. In the early 1930s, the Stalin's government accused Vygotsky of being a "bourgeois psychologist" and was denounced by the Communist party and his work was banned. At age 37, after 10 years of psychology development, Vygotsky died of tuberculosis. His ideas continued through the work of others like Luria and others in the Soviet Union.

Miller, P.H. (2002). Theories of Developmental Psychology, 4th Ed. (pp.227-244); Ch. 7 - Interactional Theories of Cognitive Development). Toronto, ON: Pearson.