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Table of Contents
Vol. 38, No. 6, 1995
Issue release date: 1995
Human Development 1995;38:332–337

Vygotsky on Learning and Development

Wertsch J.V. · Sohmer R.
Frances L. Hiatt School of Psychology, Clark University, Worcester, Mass., USA

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The theoretical framework of Vygotsky entails specific understandings of learning, development, and the goal(s) of development. In Vygotsky’s usage, the term obuchenie, frequently translated as ‘learning’, more accurately indicates the interaction of teacher and student. Although the various domains (phylogenesis, sociocultural history, ontogenesis, and microgenesis) to which Vygotsky extended the concept of development have differing dynamics, the course of development within each domain is characterized by the transformative effects of cultural tools (mediational means) upon their users. Vygotsky posited a form of abstract rationality associated with decontextualization, a semiotic potential inherent in all human languages, as an ideal endpoint (telos) of development. Evidence that Vygotsky at times assumed the existence of another telos, corresponding to the semiotic potential of contextualization, has implications for a potential developmental account of heterogeneity in human mental functioning.

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