The Psychological Theory of Sociocultural Development by Lev Vygotsky

 The psychological theory of sociocultural development by Lev Vygotsky suggested a “fundamental role of social interaction in the development of cognition, as he believed strongly that community plays a central role in the process of making meaning”. Lev Vygotsky argued against Piaget’s notion that “a child’s development must precede their learning”.

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Vygotsky’s theory supports some ideas from Piaget’s theory, however, his was incomplete due to death. The theory was also thought as a person’s cognitive development is “largely influenced by their surrounding culture” like parents, caregivers, peers, and the “culture at large were responsible for developing higher order functions. Lev believed that the theory was based on 2 levels, through interactions, then those that intergrated into the individual’s mental structure, his second theory was based on the cognitive development is limited to a proximal development called ZPD.

Why is this a crucial theory? Lev Vygotsky outlined social learning that helps us understand how people learn in social contexts and helps us construct “active learning communities”. Vygotsky argued many points about his theory “that language is the main tool that promotes thinking, develops reasoning, and supports cultural activities like reading and writing” and “culture is the primary determining factor for knowledge construction”.

Vygotsky also made the theory The Zone of Proximal Development which is a gap between what a child knows and what he or she does not know. As Lev Vygotsky said “The distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem-solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers” suggesting the informational requirement for a child is not yet achieved so they become dependent on another that has more knowledge. The crucial piece of this theory was no matter whom it was; without the skill they could and would depend on another for the essential knowledge to achieve the neccessary skill. Lev Vygotsky said “learning is more than the acquisistion of the ability to think; it is the acqusition of many specialized abilities for thinking about a variety of things” which he believes to be one of the sole visionaries for his theory of The Zone of Proximal Development.

Which parents and techers promote learning, knowledge, and educational circumstances that are in a childs ZPD. It intiates parents and teachers to stick a less knowledgeable child with a more skillful one to have them learn and grow from the other. Each child has a different set of skills and mindset that were projected through childhood, molding of interactions of societal members, and through their cultures, which leads to their knowledge and own skill set that allows parents and teachers to coordinate their children to learn from another.

Lev Vygotsky belived that human development comes from an interaction between individuals and society that children learn gradually but continuously from their parents and techers. He emphasized that the nature of this interaction and that society affects people but people also affect society.

Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist vastly unknown to the west until it was published in 1962, he lived during the Russian Revolution. Lev Vygotsky was born November 5th, 1896 in a small town called Orsche and moved to Gomel with his family at the age of 1 year. Then Gomel became the Independent Nation called Belorussia which is 400 miles west of Moscow. Vygotsky was the second oldest in a family of 8 children, his father was a well-respected bank manager, his mother was a trained teacher and was a full-time homemaker. Lev Vygotsky died on June 11th, 1934 by tuberculosis, at the age of 37.

In the book Wonder, we go through the coping mechanisms used by the family and Auggie to deal with his unfavorable circumstances. August had many problematic experiences when he started school and each family member took it a different way. Via got very protective over Auggie, Auggie just pretended like it didn’t bother him, his mother and father taught him to walk away from bullying or the reactions they give.

When someone would react or say something about Auggie’s face, Via would get extremely protective and even mad. Her brother, Auggie would just be calm and collected and try to calm his sister down. He didn’t feel it was necessary for her to get all mad and try to protect him. However Via went to her grandma’s house for 4 weeks and noticed the difference for when Auggie wasn’t around, and she kind of liked it.

When Via came back home, for a split second she had said and felt “and suddenly there I was, like all those people who would stare or look away. Horrified. Sickened. Scared.” which led her to see an outsider view on Auggie.

August and Via’s father, Nate Pullman, doesn’t like making fun of his son but did miss fun of Mr.Tushman about his name which made Auggie want to go to school simply because he’s different too. Auggie replied with a “he’s the principal of my new school”.

With that context within the book, it means that Via copes with Auggies deformities by getting upset and mad at those who say or look at Auggie differently. As Via said “there are so many words I can use to describe the look on people’s faces” “and I just get mad’.

Via’s coping was to get mad but might not have been the smartest decision but it was her way to deal with the problems that her brother, Auggie, and the parents had to face. Although each coping mechanism is different, it is a way to deal with their own problem.

Auggie’s coping mechanisms were a little more extreme and he used them more then anyone else did, Auggie faced many issues and tried his best to face them head-on with what he could do. August had many issues and situations that led him to need ways to get through it or coping mechanisms.

August faced many issues like him going to his first school at the age of 10 and the kids making fun of him. Some of it might have been unintentional because of their age but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect August and his family in any other way. He went through many things and only wanted to be normal so no one would notice him like he said, “If i found a magic lamp and I could have one wish, I would wish that I had a normal face that no one ever noticed at all. I would wish that I could walk down the street without people seeing me and then doing that look-away thing.” He didn’t have a typical 10-year-old wish, a deeper wish that would bring a sense of sadness and worry to anyone that heard it.

Auggie had many reasons to doubt doing many things but he kept going, even as everyone else would doubt his capabilities in handiling the situation. His friend, Jack had sai “But if a little kid like Jamie, who’s usually a nice enough kid, can be that mean, then a kid like August doesnt stand a chance in middle school.” everyone around him doubted his capacity and underestimated his abilities to handle things.

Auggie went through many things including friends as one of his ‘best’ friends ‘betrayed’ him, he had over heard hime saying things behind his back and Auggie believed that Mr.Tushman had bribed Jack, his best friend, with good grades or soemthing of that sort. There was a sort of push to become friends with August by Jack’s mother on advisment from the principal Mr.Tushman.

Vygotsky’s theory was over social development and the proximal gap, he stated that children learned from their expierneces and others as well as their own culture or identity. He believed a child was moldable at an earl age and believed through parents, teachers that the child can achieve a higher knowledge and then go on to teach or mold anopther that doesnt have the same knowledge or skill set.

Via, August’s sister grew up with him, shes always had Auggie around which lead her to being use to him. At an early age she learned about Auggie and his disease, how to deal with it, and handle the stares, which supports the notion or theory made by Lev Vygotsky. Via learned about his diesase from early on which gave her knowledge that others didnt have available.

Via used her anger as a way to cope with people reacting to Auggie, playing the role as the bigger sister, she heard many kids say mean things about Auggie. Via was never really payed attention to because of Auggie, his disease and his personality gave a sort of kindness that she didnt have so everyone was more drawn to him especially when they got to know him.

Via wasnt exactly payed attention to but she learned about Auggie and his disease, it lead her to being kind and protective of Auggie however with Vygotsky’s theory, it supports her feeling for when she leaves to her Grans house. She had felt refreshed walking down the street not getting all the attention that came from Auggie, she noticed how big of a differenve it was without him and her parents around, she even felt disgusted and scared wehn she finally saw Auggie and her parents again.

Via was more open about her feeling of Auggie’s condition and the treatment she gets from her parents, she grew up with him always being there, she might’ve had a different outlook on Auggie if she was older and was already molded into her natural shape. 

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The psychological theory of sociocultural development by Lev Vygotsky. (2021, Mar 27). Retrieved September 28, 2022 , from

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