|Birth Day:||November 17, 1896|
|Death Date:||Jun 11, 1934 (age 37)|
As per our current Database, Lev Vygotsky died on Jun 11, 1934 (age 37).
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He studied law at the Moscow State University where he was admitted due to a Jewish Lottery.
Lev Vygodskii was raised in the city of Gomel, where he was homeschooled until 1911 and then obtained formal degree (with distinction) in a private Jewish Gimnasium, which allowed him entrance to a university. In 1913 Lev Vygodskii was admitted to the Moscow University by mere ballot through a "Jewish Lottery": at the time a three percent Jewish student quota was administered for entry in Moscow and Saint Petersburg universities. He had interest in humanities and social sciences, but at the insistence of his parents he applied to the medical school in Moscow University. During the first semester of study he transferred to the law school. There he studied law and, in parallel, he attended lectures at Shaniavskii University.
Lev Vygotsky never completed his formal studies at the Imperial Moscow University and, thus, he never obtained a university degree: his studies were interrupted by the October Bolshevik uprising in 1917 in the country's capital Petrograd and the second largest city Moscow. Following these events, he left Moscow and eventually returned to Gomel, where he lived after the October Socialist Revolution of 1917 occurred. There is virtually no information about his life during the years in Gomel (that administratively belonged to the Ukrainian State at the time) after the German occupation during WWI, until the Bolsheviks captured the town in 1919. After that, he was an active participant of major social transformation under the Bolshevik (Communist) rule and a fairly prominent representative of the Bolshevik government in Gomel from 1919 to 1923. By the early 1920s, as reflected in his journalistic publications of the time, he informally changed his Jewish-sounding birth name, 'Lev Símkhovich Výgodskii' (Russian: Лев Си́мхович Вы́годский), with the surname becoming Vygótskii and the patronymic 'Símkhovich' becoming the Slavic 'Semiónovich'. It was under this pen-name that the fame subsequently came to him. His daughters (subsequently born in 1925 and 1930) and other relatives, though, preserved their original family name 'Vygodskii'. The traditional English spelling of his last name nowadays is 'Vygotsky'.
In January 1924, Vygotsky took part in the Second All-Russian Psychoneurological Congress in Petrograd (soon thereafter renamed Leningrad). After the Congress, Vygotsky received an invitation to become a research fellow at the Psychological Institute in Moscow. Vygotsky moved to Moscow with his new wife, Roza Smekhova. He began his career at the Psychological Institute as a "staff scientist, second class". He also became a secondary teacher, covering a period marked by his interest in the processes of learning and the role of language in learning.
By the end of 1925, Vygotsky completed his dissertation in 1925 entitled "The Psychology of Art" that was not published until the 1960s and a book entitled "Pedagogical Psychology" that apparently was created on the basis of lecture notes that he prepared in Gomel while he was a psychology instructor at local educational establishments. In the summer of 1925 he made his first and only trip abroad to a London congress on the education of the deaf. Upon return to the Soviet Union, he was hospitalized due to relapse of tuberculosis and, having miraculously survived, would remain an invalid and out of work until the end of 1926. His dissertation was accepted as the prerequisite of scholarly degree, which was awarded to Vygotsky in fall 1925 in absentia.
From 1926 to 1930, Vygotsky worked on a research program investigating the development of higher cognitive functions of logical memory, selective attention, decision making, and language comprehension, from early forms of primal psychological functions. During this period he gathered a group of collaborators including Alexander Luria, Boris Varshava, Alexei Leontiev, Leonid Zankov, and several others. Vygotsky guided his students in researching this phenomenon from three different perspectives:
In the 1930s, Vygotsky was engaged in massive reconstruction of the theory of his "instrumental" period of the 1920s. Around 1929–1930, he realized numerous deficiencies and imperfections of the earlier work of the Vygotsky Circle and criticized it on a number of occasions: in 1929, 1930, in 1931, and in 1932. Specifically, Vygotsky criticized his earlier idea of radical separation between the "lower" and "higher" psychological functions and, around 1932, appears to abandon it.
Perhaps Vygotsky's most important contribution concerns the inter-relationship of language development and thought. This problem was explored in Vygotsky's book, Thinking and speech, entitled in Russian, Myshlenie i rech, that was published in 1934. In fact, this book was a mere collection of essays and scholarly papers that Vygotsky wrote during different periods of his thought development and included writings of his "instrumental" and "holistic" periods. Vygotsky never saw the book published: it was published posthumously, edited by his closest associates (Kolbanovskii, Zankov, and Shif) not sooner than December, 1934, i.e., half a year after his death. The first English translation was published in 1962 (with several later revised editions) heavily abbreviated and under an alternative and incorrect translation of the title Thought and Language for the Russian title Mysl' i iazyk. The book 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 verbal external speech. Although Vygotsky believed inner speech developed from external speech via a gradual process of "internalization" (i.e., transition from the external to the internal), with younger children only really able to "think out loud", he claimed that in its mature form, inner speech would not resemble spoken language as we know it (in particular, being greatly compressed). Hence, thought itself developing socially.
Vygotsky died of tuberculosis on June 11, 1934, at the age of 37, in Moscow, Soviet Union. One of Vygotsky's last private notebook entries gives a proverbial, yet very pessimistic self-assessment of his contribution to psychological theory:
In North America, Vygotsky's work was known from the end of the 1920s through a series of publications in English, but it did not have a major impact on research in general. In 1962 a translation of his posthumous 1934 book, Thinking and Speech, published with the title,Thought and Language, did not seem to change the situation considerably. It was only after an eclectic compilation of partly rephrased and partly translated works of Vygotsky and his collaborators, published in 1978 under Vygotsky's name as Mind in Society, that the Vygotsky boom started in the West: originally, in North America, and later, following the North American example, spread to other regions of the world. This version of Vygotskian science is typically associated with the names of its chief proponents Michael Cole, James Wertsch, their associates and followers, and is relatively well known under the names of "cultural-historical activity theory" (aka CHAT) or "activity theory". Scaffolding, a concept introduced by Wood, Bruner, and Ross in 1976, is somewhat related to the idea of ZPD, although Vygotsky never used the term.
After his release from the hospital, Vygotsky did theoretical and methodological work on the crisis in psychology, but never finished the draft of the manuscript and interrupted his work on it around mid-1927. The manuscript was published later with notable editorial interventions and distortions in 1982 and was presented by the editors as one of the most important of Vygotsky's works. In this early manuscript, Vygotsky argued for the formation of a general psychology that could unite the naturalist objectivist strands of psychological science with the more philosophical approaches of Marxist orientation. However, he also harshly criticized those of his colleagues who attempted to build a "Marxist Psychology" as an alternative to the naturalist and philosophical schools. He argued that if one wanted to build a truly Marxist Psychology, there were no shortcuts to be found by merely looking for applicable quotes in the writings of Marx. Rather one should look for a methodology that was in accordance with the Marxian spirit.
As early as the mid-1920s, Vygotsky's ideas were introduced in the West, but he remained virtually unknown until the early 1980s when the popularity among educators of the constructivist developmental psychology and educational theory of Jean Piaget (1896-1980) started to decline and, in contrast, Vygotsky's notion of the "zone of proximal development" became a central component of the development of the so-called "social constructivist" turn in developmental and, primarily, educational psychology and practice. A Review of General Psychology study, published in 2002, ranked Vygotsky as the 83rd top psychologist of the twentieth century and the third (and the last) Russian on the top-100 list after Ivan Pavlov and Vygotsky's longtime collaborator Alexander Luria.
During the early twenty-first century, several scholarly reevaluations of the popular version (sometimes disparagingly termed "Vygotsky cult", "the cult of Vygotsky", or even "the cult of personality around Vygotsky") of Vygotsky's legacy have been undertaken and are referred to as the "revisionist revolution in Vygotsky Studies". Vygotsky studies conducted within the framework of the "revisionist turn" during the 2010s revealed systematic and massive falsifications and distortions of Vygotsky's legacy., but also demonstrated a rapid and dramatic decrease of this author's popularity in international scholarship that began in 2017. The reasons of this crisis are not entirely clear yet and are being discussed in scholarly circles.
Currently, Lev Vygotsky is 124 years, 11 months and 8 days old. Lev Vygotsky will celebrate 125th birthday on a Wednesday 17th of November 2021.
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