Lev Vygotsky was born in November of 1896 in Orsha, Russia. He studied at the Moscow State University and graduated in 1917. He worked throughout Russia at various institutions, including the Institute of Psychology. Vygotsky was an innovative psychologist and studied extensively in the fields of child development, developmental psychology, and educational philosophy. Although he only lived until the age of 37, this pioneer was responsible for significant advancements in the field of child development.
Contribution to Psychology
Vygotsky created the Vygotsky Circle which explored his theories of cultural-historical psychology. His work was captured in several books, including Psychology of Art and Thought and Language. Vygotsky explored internalization and meditation in depth and believed that social and cultural classes directly affected interpersonal communication. He theorized that children developed their behaviors and habits based on their cultures, and referred to this phenomena as cultural meditation, otherwise known as internalization. This behavior evolved as a child began to employ their surroundings for their own use or tailor items to their needs.
Vygotsky studied the role of play in relation to the development of a child. He described play as transitional throughout a child’s development and their internalization of various tools, or pivots, changed as the child grew. Self-regulation and social influences were recognized by Vygotsky as integral components to a child. As a child ages, social norms dictate impulse control and begin to take precedence over previous behaviors.
Vygotsky devoted much of his research to language and thought in children. He believed that inner speech, or internal thoughts, develop from outer signals and inner desires. As mental awareness increases, the inner speech begins to manifest through physical means, such as signing for an object. Infants and toddlers rely heavily on internal speech until they develop the motor skills to verbalize, or as Vygotsky referred to it, “to think out loud.” He explored the relationship between thinking and language and theorized that thinking, although able to occur without verbal language, relies on language to shape and sharpen its focus. Therefore, Vygotsky theorized that the combination of language and thinking creates a process of self-talk, an internal cognitive mechanism that provides rich and robust internal communication.