Piaget and Vygotsky: Many resemblances, and a crucial difference

Piaget and Vygotsky are two influential developmental psychologists. One can even say that their contributions to developmental psychology, albeit different, are similarly remarkable and unique. This article is in four parts. In the first part, I refer briefly to a commonly noticed difference between Vygotsky’s and Piaget’s theories. In the second part, I show that there are many resemblances between Vygotsky and Piaget. In the third part, I argue that in spite of such resemblances, there exists a crucial, and generally unnoticed, difference between Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories, and that this difference underlies the way each author addresses the following issues: 1) the origins of development and the motor of development; 2) the relationships among equal peers vs. those based on authorities, as they are sources of development and learning; 3) the more appropriate methods for studying developmental changes; 4) the importance of the distinction between true vs. necessary knowledge; and 5) the role of transformation and personal reconstruction vs. that of transmission and social influence in the phenomena of development and learning. Finally, I summarize the main ideas and arguments which I elaborate throughout this article, and mention what can be gained when the generally ignored aforementioned difference is noticed.


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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