Vygotskian collaborative project of social transformation – History, politics, and practice in knowledge construction

Vygotsky’s theory has recently evolved as an innovative approach to many fundamental issues in psychology and education. Ironically, however, his legacy is mostly portrayed from the standpoint of outdated – cognitivist and individualist – views on science and history, including in the ‘Great Man’ version that focuses on sole giants purportedly creating knowledge in ivory towers of purely academic pursuits of little political and practical relevance. This portrayal goes against the very spirit of Vygotskian approach which evolved as a collaborative project unique for its practical, political, and civic engagement and ideological commitment to ideals of social justice, equality, and social change. Moreover, this project went beyond the narrow confines of psychology in its traditional guise of an ivory-tower elitist enterprise separate from sociocultural transformative practices and instead resulted from, participated in, and contributed to the giant social experiment that at the time took place in Russia. Remarkably, Vygotsky’s approach de facto embodies, in its real life history, the very theoretical principles central to it, such as the inseparability of knowledge and action, theory and practice, and the collaborative nature of cognition. Analysis reveals proximity of Vygotskian project to a newly evolving perspective on science as culture and practice and addresses ways to mutually enrich this perspective.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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