Science & Education

, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 537-575

First online:

Turning Vygotsky on His Head: Vygotsky' `Scientifically Based Method' and the Socioculturalist's `Social Other'

  • S. RowlandsAffiliated withCentre for Teaching Mathematics, University of Plymouth

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Vygotsky has become an authority, but the authority has more to do with justifying a sociocultural relativism than it has with his Marxist objectivist approach to psychology and pedagogy. This paper is an attempt to understand Vygotsky's perspective in relation to Marxist epistemology, and will critically examine the sociocultural interpretation of Vygotsky but within the light of his own perspective. It will be shown that the relativism of the sociocultural school not only takes Vygotsky's zone of proximal development out of its social and historical context, but as a consequence downplays the zone of proximal development as a dynamic research methodology. As an extension of the discussion of the zone of proximal development, this paper will also examine the sociocultural interpretation of Vygotsky's relation between scientific and everyday concepts, and the pedagogical consequences of such an interpretation.

constructivism epistemology objectivism pedagogy psychology relativism science socioculturism theory and practice