|Lev Semenovich Vygotsky
Within Vygotsky's conceptualisation of human psychology, a basic notion is that of mediation:
'the central fact about our psychology is the fact of mediation' (1982:166)The point being made is that humans in their history have invented cultural tools, both material and psychological, that constitute a 'cognitive technology' whereby we have restructured our abilities and reconfigured our 'nature'. And it is at this point in our histories that we are beginning to explore a new 'technology', one which unites the material with the psychological, an 'informational technology' that in the emerging community of the WorldWideWeb is providing a new means of mediating our activities.
It thus seems appropriate to convene a celebration that may make a lasting contribution as a resource for teaching and research in this medium, in celebration of an individual whose thinking and research has contributed so much to our conceptualisation of education and development.
The proposal is to mark the centenary of Vygotsky's birth by setting up the equivalent of a web-conference on Vygotsky's opus. We are inviting people to 'submit' a piece of around 1000 words in the first instance as comments on, or in exegesis of, central concepts and themes in the Vygotskyean oeuvre.
What are these central concepts? It is not our intention to establish an orthodoxy, but among them are the distinction between higher and lower mental functions; the planes of intramental versus intermental psychological abilities; the zone of proximal development; psychological tools; and the principle of the decontextualization of mediational means; at least.
It is quite possible that these 'vignettes' could be done as 'class projects' in a number of different honours or graduate courses, for example. Or they may be individually 'submitted'. The possibilities noted here should not be taken as definitive.
There are no closing dates! Our preference is that we act as a 'link site', cataloguing resources as they become available via their addresses at independent, local sites, so as not to swamp our own ability to store and redistribute material. However, where that is not possible, we will provide 'library' facilities, and material can be sent here if there are no alternatives available. Queries, offers, etc., can be mailed below.
Michael Cole, University of California, San Diego
Andrew Lock, Massey University
James Wertsch, Washington University, St. Louis
A paper by James Wertsch and Michael Cole that is an accessible source of the main thrust of Vygotsky's general developmental framework, as well as offering a contrast to the Piagetian approach.
A 'reading' of Vygotsky's central notions through the work of Wittgenstein by John Shotter. Note: this paper is long.
Culural-Historical Psychology provides a periodically-updated listing of Vygotskyean and related resources available on the Web.
Two sites hold materials from the 'Proceedings of the International Conference on L.S.Vygotsky and the Contemporary Human Sciences' held in Moscow in 1994. The holdings at each site appear to include different materials, and thus both are worth checking:
Very brief information can be found at
This 'snippet' is embedded in more extensive material on theories of learning and instruction that can be accessed separately.
Robert Boyle maintains a periodically-updated list of Vygotskyean resources that are turned up by the Lycos Web Crawler under the title of Bob's Vygotsky NetCompendium
A very brief overview of ' Egocentric Speech: A Debate Between Piaget and Vygotsky' also contains another photo image of Vygotsky.
Lisbeth Dixon-Krauss (University of West Florida) presents a mediation model for dynamic literacy instruction which
is based on two principles derived from Vygotsky's ideas. First, his idea that the primary function of language is social for communication (Vygotsky, 1981) leads to a view of literacy as a communication form using printed signs as the media for sharing meaning. Second, the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1962, 1978) leads to a view of school literacy instruction as sign-mediated activity nestled within socially mediated activity. The teacher mediates shared meaning between the reader and text author. She provides the learner support as they collectively build bridges of awareness, understandings, and competence through social interaction (Griffin & Cole, 1984; Wertsch, 1984).
Materials that come from the same context that Vygotsky worked in by Bahktin can be accessed via the The University of Sheffield: Bakhtin Centre
A paper that draws on Bakhtin, as well as Vygotskyean concepts, can be accessed under the wonderful title of LINGUIST: 6.1268