The development of Social and Practical concepts in Learning to Teach: Vygotsky’s conception

This conceptual paper interrogates, considers, and expands on Vygotsky’s notion of concept development. I first review Vygotsky’s account of concept development, including his distinction between scientific and spontaneous concepts. I next summarize his pattern of concept development from complexes to pseudoconcepts to concepts, and in the process problematize his view by shifting his discussion from biological examples to social examples. The following section examines concepts as cultural constructions, with attention to the cultural nature of concepts, and concepts and societal telos. The third section outlines processes that complement and enrich concept development, including concept development’s future orientation, the affective dimension of concept development, and creativity’s role in concept development as a higher mental function. The fourth section takes Vygotsky’s notion of concept development’s “twisting path” and complicates it by questioning the extent to which social concepts have a clear meaning toward which any pathway may lead given their relativistic and ideological nature. This inquiry leads to the proposal of practical concepts that serve as fragmented understandings that generally cohere yet are inherently compromised by attention to contradictory means of mediation in social-cultural–historical contexts.

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About Giorgio Bertini

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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