Contrasting Piagetian versus Vygotskian Activity Theories of Learning and Development

This paper contrasts the notions of learning, teaching and development as these are conceptualized in two versions of constructivism: the socio-interactional one (in which Piagetian and Vygotskian insights are often merged) versus the one founded by Vygotsky and expanded in activity theory (especially by Galperin and Davydov). We reveal a broad conceptual commonality that makes these frameworks compatible at one level but draw profound contrasts in their premises concerning history (including cultural tools) and the concept of the social. Examples of educational practices (including results of our own year-long observation) are used to illustrate the implications of these premises. We argue that the Vygotskian framework expanded by a dialectical view of history can be used to devise education that takes history to the fullest and yet does not fall into the traps of a conservative agenda with its two extremes of unidirectional authoritarianism or laissez-faire individualism. It is on this foundation that a coherent and unified constructivist approach committed to ideals of social justice can be construed in the future.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder 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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