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

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

REFERENCES

  1. Blanck, G.: 1990, 'Vygotsky: The Man and his Cause', in L. Moil (ed.), Vygotsky and Education: instructional implications and Applications of Sociohistorical Psychology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Carnap, R.: 1934, The Unity of Science, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co, Ltd., London.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Chaliners, A.: 1982, What is This Thing Called Science? Second edition. The Open University Press, Milton Keynes.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Cobb, P.: 1996, 'Where is the mind? A Co–ordination of Sociocultural and Cognitive Constructivist Perspectives', in C. T. Fosnot (ed.), Constructivism: Theory. Perspectives litld Practice. Teachers College Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Crawford, K.: 1995, 'What do Vygotskian Approaches to Psychology Have to Offer Action Research', Educational Action Research 3(2), 239–247.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Cravrford. K.: 1996, 'Vygotskian Approaches in Human Development in the Information Era', Educational Studies in Mathematics 31, 43–62

    Google Scholar 

  7. Davydov, V. V.: 1988a, 'Problems of Developmental Teaching: The Experience of Theoretical and Experimental Psychological Research (part 1)', Soviet Education 30(8), 6–97.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Davydov, V. V.: 1988b), 'Problems of Developmental Teaching: The Experience of Theoretical and Experimental Psychological Research (part 2)', Soviet Education 30(9), 3–83.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Ernest, P.: 1991. The Philosophy of Mathematics Education. The Palmer Press, London. Ernest, P.: 1994, 'social Constnictivism and the Psychology of Mathematics Education', in P. Ernest (ed.). Constructing Mathematical Knowledge'. Epwenlology and Mathematics Education, The Faimer Press, London.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Ernest, P.: 1998, Social Constructivism us a Philosophy of Mathemafics, State University of New York Press, Albany.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Floden, R. & Buchmann, M.: 1993, 'Breaking with Everyday Experience for Guided Adventures in Learning', in M. Buchmann and M. Floden (eds). Detachment and Concern: Conversations m the Philosophy of Teaching and Teacher Education, Cassell, London.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Fosnot, C. T.: 1996, 'Constmetivisin: A Psychological Theory of Learning', in C. T. Fosnot (ed.), Constrltctivism: Theory-Perspectives and Practice, Teachers College Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Fülredi, F.: 1986, The Soviet Union Demyscified: A Materialist Analysis. Junius Publications Ltd., London.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Geelan, D.: 1997, 'Epistemological Anarchy and the Many Forms of Constructivism', Science & Education 6(1–2), 15–28.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Gillott, J. & Kumar, M.: 1995, Science and the Retreat from Reason, Merlin Press, London.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Goodman, Y. & Goodman, K.: 1990, 'Vygotsky in a Whole Language Perspective', in L. Moll (ed.), Vygotsky and Education: Instructional Implications and Applications of Sociohistorical Psychology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Hatano, G.: 1993, 'Commentary: Time to Merge Vygotskian and Constructivist Conceptions of Knowledge Acquisition', in E. Forman, N. Minick and C. Stone (eds), Contexts for Learning: Sociocultural Dynamics in Children's Development, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Heather, N.: 1976, Radical Perspectives in Psychaiogy, Essential Psychology Series (No.F8), P. Herriot (ed.), Methuen, London.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Hedegaard, M.: 1998, 'Situated Learning and Cognition: Theoretical Learning and Cognition', Mind, Culture and Activity 5(2), 114–126.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Hestenes, D.: 1987, New Foundations of Classical Mechanics, Reidel, Boston.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Hestenes, D.: 1992, 'Modeling Games in the Newtonian World', Am. J. Phys. 60(8). 732–748.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Howard, R. W.: 1987, Concepts and Schemata. Cassell Educational, London.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Howe, A.: 1996, 'Development of Science Concepts Within a Vygotskian Framework', Science Education 80(l), 35–51.

    Google Scholar 

  24. llyenkov, E. V.: 1982, The Dialectics of the Abstract and the Concrete in Marx's Capital, Progress Publishers, Moscow.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Jaworski. B.: 1994, Investigating Mathematics Teaching: A Conscructivist Inquiry, The Falmer press, London.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Jaworski, B.: 1998, 'Constructing Mathematics, Learning and Teaching', in 0. Bjrkqvist (ed.), Mathematics Teaching from a CotlStructivul Point of View, Proceedings of Topic Group 6 at the Eighth ICME (Sevilla). Abo Akademi University of Education, Finland.

    Google Scholar 

  27. John-Steiner, V., Meehan, T. M. & Mahn, H.: 1998, 'A Functional Systems Approach to Concept Development', Mind, Culture and Activity 5(2), 127–134

    Google Scholar 

  28. Kemmis, S. & McTaggart, R.: 1988, The Action Research Planner, Deakin University Press, Victoria

    Google Scholar 

  29. Kozulin, A.: 1990, Vygotsky's Psychology: A Biography of Ideas, Harvester Wheatsheaf, Hemel Hempstead.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Kozulin, A,: 1996, 'The Concept of Activity in Soviet Psychology: Vygotsky, his Disciples and Critics', in H. Daniels (ed.), An Introduction to Vygotsky, Routledge, London.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Lave, J. & Wengcr, E.: 1996, 'Practice,Person, Social World', in H. Daniels (ed.), An Introduction to Vygotsky, Routledge, London.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Lenin. V. I.: 1969, The State and Revolution (written in 1917), Progress Publishers, Moscow.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Lenin, V, l.: 1972, MaKriaUsm and Empirio-Criticism (written in 1908), Foreign Languages Press, Peking, Lenin, V. 1.: 1973, What is to be Done? (first published in 1902), Foreign Languages Press, Peking.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Lennan, S.: 1996, 'Some Problems in Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning From a Socio–Cultural Approach', Proceedings of The British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics day conference, 9 Nov. 1996.

  35. Litowitz, B.: 1993, 'Deconstruction in the Zone of Proxinnal Development', in E. Forman, N. Minick and C. Stone (eds). Contexts for Learning: Sociocultural Dynamics in Chidren's Development, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Lukács, G.'. 1974a, 'What is Orthodox Marxism?', in History and Class Consciousness (collection of essays, first published 1918–1930, Lukacs), Merlin Press, London.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Lukács, G.: 1974b, “The Changing Function of Historical Materialism', History and Class Consciousness (collection of essays, first published 1918–1930, Lukacs), Merlin Press, London.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Mahn. H. & John-Sterner, V.: 1998, Introduction', Mind, Culture and Activity 5(2), 81–88.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Martin, L,: 1990, 'Detecting and Defining Science Problems: A Study of Video-Mediated Lessons', in L. Moll (ed.), Vygotsky and Education: Instructional Implications and Applications of Sociohistorical Psychology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Marx, K.: 1969, 'Theses on Feuerbach', in L. Feuer (ed.), Marx and Engels: Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy, Collins, the Fontana Library, Glasgow.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Matthews, M. R.: 1980, The Marxist Theory of Schooling: A Study of Epistemology and Education. Harvester Press, Sussex.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Matthews, M. R.: 1994, Science Teaching: The Role of History and Philosophy of Science, Routledge, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Matthews, M. R.: 1997, Introductory Comments on Philosophy and Constructivism in Science Education', Science & Education 6(1–2), 5–14

    Google Scholar 

  44. McNamee, G.: 1990, 'Learning to Read and Write in an Inner-City Setting: A Longitudinal Study of Community Change', in L. Moll (ed.), Vygotsky and Education: Instructional implications and Applications of Sociohistorical Psychology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Moll, L.: 1990, Introduction', in L. Moll (ed.), Vygotsky and Education: Instructional Implications and Applications of Sociohistorical Psychology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Moll, L. & Greenberg, J.: 1990, 'Creating Zones of Possibilities: Combining Social Contexts for Instruction', in L. Moll (ed.), Vygotsky and Education: instructional Implications and Application!: of Sociohistorical Psychology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  47. Moll, L. & Whitmore, K.: 1993, 'Vygotsky in Classroom Practice: Moving from Individual Transmission to Social Transaction', in E. Forman, N. Minick and C. Addison Stone (eds). Contexts for Learning: Sociocukural Dynamics in Children's Devefopment. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Newman, F. & Holzman, L.: 1993, Lev Vygotsky: Revolutionary Scientist, Routledge, London.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Nola, R.: 1997, 'Constructivism in Science and Science Education: A Philosophical Critique', Science & Education 6(1–2), 55–83.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Panofsky, C., John-Steiner, V. & Blackwell. P.: 1990, 'The Development of Scientific Concepts and Discourse', in L. Moll (ed.), Vygotsky and Education: Instructional Implications and Applications ofSociffhistorical Psychology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Phillips, D.: 1997, 'Coming to Grips with Radical Social Constructivisms'. Science & Education 6(1–2), 85–103.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Restivo, S.: 1994, 'The Social life of Mathematics', in P. Ernest (ed.). Mathematics, Education and PhUo.wphv: An International Perspective. The Falmer Press, London.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Rosa, A. & Montero, I,: 1990, 'The Historical Context of Vygotsky's Work: A Sociohistorical Approach', in L. Moll (ed.), Vygotsky and Education: lnstructional fmpUccttions and Applications of Sociohisiorical Psychology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Rowlands, S., Graham, E. & Berry, J.: 1996, 'The Vygotskian Perspective and the Radical Versus tile Social Constructivism Debate', British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics day conference, 9 Nov. 1996.

  55. Smith, E.: 1994, 'Mathematics, Computers and People: Individual and Social Perspectives', in F. Ernest (ed.), Constructing Mathematical Knowledge'. Epistemology and Mathematical Education. The Palmer Press, London.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Steffe, L. & Tzur, R.: 1994, Interaction and Children's Mathematics', in P. Ernest (ed.), Constructing Mathematical Knowledge: Epistemology and Mathematical Education, The Falmer Press, London.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Suchting, W. A.: 1986, Marx and Philosophy: Three Studies, The Macmillan Press Ltd., Hampshire.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Tharp, R. & Gallimore, R.: 1988, Rousing Minds to Life, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Toulmin, S.: 1969, The Philosophy of Science. Hutchinson University Library, London.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Toulmin, S.: 1978, 'The Mozart of Psychology', New York Review of Books, Sept.

  61. Tudge, J.: 1990, 'Vygotsky, the Zone of Proximal Development, and Peer Collaboration: Implications for Classroom Practice', in L. Moll (ed.), Vygotsky and Education: Instructional Implications and Applications of Sociohistorical Psychology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Van der Veer, R.: 1998, 'From Concept Attainment to Knowledge Formation', Mind.Culture and Activity 5(2), 89–94.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Van der Veer, R. & Valsiner, J.: 1993, Understanding Vygotsky: A Quest for Synthesis, Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  64. Van der Veer, R. & Valsiner, J.: 1994. Introduction', in R. Van der Veer and J. Valsiner (eds), The Vygotsky Reader, Blackwell, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Von Glasersfeld, E.: 1995, Radical Constructivism: A Way of Knowing and Learning, The Falmer Press, London.

    Google Scholar 

  66. Vygotsky, L.: 1962, Thought and Language (First published, 1934, in Russian), Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, Cambridge, MA.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Vygotsky, L.: 1978, Mind in Society (First published as a collection of earlier articles in 1933–35, in Russian), Harvard University Press (Cambridge, Mass.), London, UK.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Vygotsky, L.: 1987, 'Thinking and Speech', The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky, Volume 1.’ Problems of general Psychology, Plenum Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Vygotsky, L.: 1994a, 'The Problem of the Environment', in R. Van der Veer and J. Valsiner (eds). The Vygotsky Reader, Blackwell, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  70. Vygotsky, L,: 1994b, 'The Development of Academic Concepts in School Aged Children', in R. Van der Veer and J. Valsiner (eds), The Vygotsky Reader, Blackwell, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Wardekker, W. L.: 1998. 'Scientific Concepts and Reflection', Mine, Culture and Activity 5(2). 143–153.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Wertsch, J.: 1985, Vygotsky and the Social Formation of Mind, Harvard University Press, London, UK.

    Google Scholar 

  73. Wertsch, J.: 1990, 'The Voice of Rationality in a Sociocultural Approach to Mind', in L. Moll (ed.), Vygoisky and Education: Instructional Implications and Applications of Sociohistorical Psychology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  74. Wertsch, J,: 1996, 'The Role of Abstract Rationality in Vygotsky's Image of Mind', in A. Tryphon and J. Vonche (eds), Piaget-Vygotsky: The Social Genesis of Thought, Psychology Press, East Sussex.

    Google Scholar 

  75. West, L. & Pines. A.: 1985, 'Introduction', in L. West and A. Pines (eds), Cognitive Structure and Conceptual Change, Academic Press Inc., New York.

    Google Scholar 

  76. Wilson, B. G. Teslow, J. L. & Taylor, L,: 1993, Insti–uctional Design Perspectives on Mathematics Education with Reference to Vygotsky's Theory of Social Cognition', Focus on Learning Problems in Mathematics (Spring & Summer editions) 15(2–3).

  77. Zeuli, J.: 1986, The Use of the Zone of Proxirnai Development in Everyday and School Cuntexts: A Vygotskian Critique, The Institute for Research on Teaching (Occasional paper no. 100). Michigan State University, Michigan.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rowlands, S. Turning Vygotsky on His Head: Vygotsky' `Scientifically Based Method' and the Socioculturalist's `Social Other'. Science & Education 9, 537–575 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1008748901374

Download citation

  • constructivism
  • epistemology
  • objectivism
  • pedagogy
  • psychology
  • relativism
  • science
  • socioculturism
  • theory and practice