Lev Vygotsky was born in Orsha Russia in 1896. His family was middle class and Jewish, those two things shaped lots of Vygotskys views and choices. Vygotskys early education took place in Gomel, he was entered into public school and given private tutoring. He entered the Moscow University in 1913 to study law. The reason for law was that it was one of the few professions that allowed Jews to live outside of government restricted areas in Russia at the time. His admittance to the University was based on a “Jewish Lottery”, the school needed to have at least 3% Jewish students. As Vygotsky attended Moscow University he dual enrolled at Shaniavsky Open University where he studied social sciences. Vygotsky was very academically successful at both schools.
Vygotsky was not only a gifted academic and psychologist; he also took part in the social transformation in the years following the German occupation and civil war. During the Bolsheviks rule of Russia Vygotsky was a representative of Gomel. Befor going to Moscow he took part in the Second All Russion Psychoneurological Congress in Leninghrad. During this time he did his doctoral dissertation on “Hamlet”, the play by William Shakespeare. The dissertation was so well done that Vygotsky was invited to join the Psychological Institute in Moscow.
While a member of the Psychological Institute of Moscow Vygotsky came to his ideas of psychological functioning. He believed there were two types, “natural” which was your cognitive and behavioral development and “cultural” which was how cultural tools, like signs, symbols and language affected you. In his opinion the naturel and cultural functioning were a integrated process, you could not have one without the other. This was different from his contemporary Jean Piaget. Where Vygotsky theorized learning and development acted together, Piaget believed learning followed development.
Vygotskys interest turned to children with disabilities. During his time as a Psychologist Russia was going through war, famine and poverty, with social change happening everywhere. Vygotsky wanted to help the disabled children as well as he could. His idea was that children with and without disabilities should be educated together. This way, the disabled children would get the needed cultural stimulus to help their naturel functioning grow. Vygotsky believed that being isolated would hinder the disabled children’s development, they needed the social interaction to develop properly. This idea was referred to as cultural-holistic psychology and was the base of the Vygotsky Circle. Vygotsky also posited an idea called Zone of Proximal Development. This was the idea that getting new knowledge is dependent on your previous learning and how easy your access to the information was.
Unfortunately Vygotsky ideas where never well known. He died in 1934 at only 37 of tuberculosis, before he was able to offer a comprehensive theory of his childhood development ideas. Since he never presented an official statement of his ideas many of his papers where never published. Even worse, the dictator of Russia during that difficult time banned Vygotskys works because of the political tension of the cold war. His ideas were considered very controversial to the Soviet Union. This did