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Lev Vygotsky Essay

1341 words - 5 pages

Starace 6Lev VygotskyLev Vygotsky was born on November 5th, 1896 in a small Russian town called Orsha. Within the first year of his life his family moved to Gomel, a city that is in what is now the independent nation of Belorussia, about 400 miles west of Moscow. He was the second oldest of eight children. His parents were well educated Jews living in one of a few designated provinces reserved for Russians of Jewish descent. His father was a respected bank manager and his mother who had trained as a teacher was a full-time homemaker. Vygotsky's parents were fluent in a number of foreign languages.As a child Vygotsky was taught by his mother to care for the other children, all of whom shared equally in household duties. The family would discuss history, literature, theatre and art, after dinner, which exposed Vygotsky to a wide range of interests. Vygotsky was taught by a private tutor, Solomon Ashpiz, a mathematician, who had spent time in exile in Siberia for revolutionary activity. The life of a Jew in Russia was limited in terms of places to live, study and work.He attended Moscow University, where he graduated with a degree in law in 1917. He studied a range of topics white attending university, including sociology, linguistics, psychology and philosophy. However, his formal work in psychology did not begin until 1924 when he attended the Institute of Psychology in Moscow and began collaborating with Alexei Leontiev and Alexander Luria. Lev Vygotsky was a prolific writer, publishing six books on psychology topics over a ten year period. His interests were quite diverse, but often centered on topics of child development and education. He also explored such topics as the psychology of art and language development. Vygotsky's life was cut tragically short in 1934, when he died of tuberculosis at the age of 38.Lev Vygotsky is considered a seminal thinker in psychology, and much of his work is still being discovered and explored today. While he was a contemporary of Skinner, Pavlov, Freud and Piaget, his work never attained their level of eminence during his lifetime. Part of this was because his work was often criticized by the Communist Party in Russia, and so his writings were largely inaccessible to the Western world. His premature death at age 38 also contributed to his obscurity. Despite this, his work has continued to grow in influence since his death, particularly in the fields of developmental and educational psychology.Vygotsky's most important contribution concerns the inter-relationship of language development and thought. This concept, explored in Vygotsky's book Thought and Language, (Russian: Myshlenie i rech, alternative translation: Thinking and Speaking) establishes the explicit and profound connection between speech (both silent inner speech and oral language), and the development of mental concepts and cognitive awareness. Vygotsky described inner speech as being qualitatively different from normal (external) speech. Although...

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