Use and abuse of Vygotsky ‘s legacy


Vygotsky was a brilliant scientist in the twentieths of the past century ( 1898-1934) in Russia. As a psychologist he mainly devoted himself ( a part of theoretical research) to education. Illiteracy was a devastating plague in that time, when the Communist party came in power. In the questions of childhood and development he is with Jean Piaget in the top five of the most famous psychologists worldwide. There is a revival of his work nowadays which has most certainly to do with the new illiteracy of our times : the non-access to information technology for a large part of humanity. But as with all things a better education is either an education that serves the profits of the transnational companies, as advocated by the competency-based pedagogical approach (see further), or an education based on solidarity that shapes personalities and is used to serve the the weakest members of society. That is what this article is about. Not all that sounds like Vygotsky IS reliably faithful to Vygotsky.

The cultural-historical theory

The cultural-historical theory was founded in the 1920s and 1930s by three Soviet psychologists: Lev Vygotsky, Romanovitch Luria and Alexis Leontiev. Their work entered in the debates running within the academic circles of psychology and pedagogy of the time. Psychology, as a burgeoning science, was attracting many young students and researchers in the USSR. In the West, there were many different theories of psychology that had followers in Russian universities. The question was: should the different elements of behaviorism, Gestalt psychology, the psychology of testing and psychoanalysis be adopted as they were and mixed together or was it better to attempt to formulate a new scientific psychology, in line with the objectives of the developing socialist society? In the latter case, what would this psychology be called: objective, dialectical or Marxist psychology?

Within this context, several theories emerged. Among which, the so-called “cultural-historical” theory.

Lucien Sève1, one of the leading specialists on Vygotsky, says the following: “Vygotsky had two goals. He wanted to reformulate psychological theory along Marxist lines and to lay the foundations of a teaching method that would help fight against illiteracy and overcome defectology2 problems ranging from deafness to mental retardation.”

Vygotsky’s definition of the term “historical” was two-fold. The term should first of all be considered from a dialectical point of view, in the sense that each individual has his own history. The term also refers to the history of humanity. Higher mental functions do not develop naturally but vary according to stages in history. We can therefore speak of evolution. These two branches of history (the natural branch and the cultural branch) fusion together within the psyche and allow the child and the adult to develop throughout their lives.

There is nothing mystical or supernatural about “the cultural branch”. In the animal kingdom, alongside the unconditional reflexes, in other words instinct, the conditional reflexes are dominant. The latter are a result of the experience acquired by the animal throughout its lifetime. All of these reflexes pertain to a link established between a stimulus and an object. In humans, however, Vygotsky argues that an artificial stimulus is incorporated between the subject and the object. This direct association becomes a structure. One might say a line has become a triangle. The development and the interweaving of language and thought are at the origin of this. Even if animals can think and sometimes have a rudimentary form of language, they do not really speak to each other, and they would never be able to build a particle accelerator. All of man’s essential functions, language, memory, and attention, are built on this triangular basis of “object – sign – subject”. We will come back to this in the section on developmental stages.

Developmental stages according to Vygotsky

Around the period 1924 – 30, Vygotksy’s attention turned to the debate between the innate and the acquired. Basing himself on Thorndike’s thesis, he identified two stages of knowledge: “On one hand there is the knowledge inherited through the adaptation to conditions that are more or less constant throughout life and on the other hand there is the knowledge used to solve novel problems that the individual faces.”3 At this time, the dominant trend in Russia was opposed to any additional explanation of animal or human learning processes as it feared the introduction of a third stage, that of intelligence, which was a vague and subjective term that could be defined in an infinite number of ways. It was assumed to be impossible to measure in a precise and universal way. For adherents of this trend, the concept of “intelligence” did not belong to the scientific domain and was therefore susceptible to subjective and metaphysical interpretations, or even to religious ones. Vygotsky formulates this stage by referring to Bühler who sees intelligence as “a goal-oriented behavior that happens immediately, without trail and error.”4 However, Vygotsky believes that this description does not reveal what is the most important. In Vygotsky’s opinion, Bühler’s claim that the higher functions in man and the more primitive functions in the child and the chimpanzee are almost identical is “profoundly erroneous”5. Indeed, according to Vygotsky, these three stages belong to the biological domain and do not proceed “towards man’s historic psychological domain. Vygotsky introduces a fourth stage (although he believes that the term ‘fourth’ is probably inappropriate) that he names voluntary action in reference to old psychology, which used this term to refer to higher forms of behavior.”6

To illustrate his point, Vygotsky takes the example of memory in children. The natural memory stage involves learning by heart. The method acquired by children at school is to memorize through the use of signs. For example, the knot we have tied in a handkerchief reminds us that we have to go shopping for our grandmother in the afternoon. This group of artificial signs that comes between the thing to be memorized and the subject is a way of mastering one’s own behavior. As soon as the child is able to master this system of intermediary artificial signs, he becomes progressively able to master his own behavior.7

The child “begins to model the types of behavior that adults usually adopt towards him. The key to our premise is therefore the mastery of one’s own behavior. Thought, concept formation, judgments, and reasoning are founded thanks to voluntary behavior acting on a representation.”8

Changes in teaching methods need to be made in order to take these factors into consideration. “Rather than enforcing discipline from outside or forced training, the child is encouraged to master his behavior independently. This does not mean that the child’s natural urges should be suppressed but rather that he is able to control his own actions. As a result, obedience and good intentions are relegated to the background whilst the ability to become one’s own master is pushed to the forefront.”9 This is the central thesis of the cultural-historical theory.

This thesis takes its inspiration from Marxism insofar as a parallel is drawn between physical work that manipulates and transforms objects with the help of tools and psychological processes that use symbols or signs to help individuals master their own behavior. Through the use of artificial signs, man transforms nature and in doing so transforms his own nature. Vygotsky calls this the instrumental method. However, “the main difference between the psychological tool and the technical tool is in the direction of the action. The psychological tool is directed towards the psyche, towards behavior, whereas the technical tool acts as an intermediary between man’s activity and the external object in order to produce a change in the object. The psychological tool in no way modifies the object: it influences the self (or the other). It acts on the psyche, on behavior. It does not act on the object. In the instrumental act, an activity takes place in relation to the self and not in relation to the object.”10

Personality according to Vygotsky

The complex interaction that takes places between the child, his parents, his teachers and his peers as well as the integration of higher mental functions supports the developing personality at the start of puberty. This is a unique fusion of intelligence, emotion and the development of will.

According to Vygotsky, all functions are internalized after being externalized. At first, there is a social relation between two people, which is then internalized. This outlook completely changes the conception of psychology as a science. The social is not determined by the individual but the other way round. The question “How does a child behave within a group?” becomes “How does the group create higher mental functions in the individual?” Does the function reside within the individual or is it imported? According to Vygotsky, it is imported. Similarly, discussion leads to ideas.11 “Sociogenesis” is therefore key to higher human behavior. “The internal relation between functions and parts of the brain, which acts as the fundamental regulatory principle of nervous activity, is replaced by social relations external to the individual and within the individual (appropriation of other’s behavior) as a new regulatory principle.”12 Today, this nervous activity is detected by neurotechnology, which shows that several parts of the brain are involved in the higher mental functions.

Vygotsky, renowned psychologist and Marxist

Most pedagogues and psychologists know Vygotsky for his theory of the “zone of proximal development”. The main premise of this theory is that tests can only measure what the child already knows how to do. However, with the help of an adult, the child can do more and this allows us to determine his potential.

Since the 2009 global crisis there has been a resurgence of interest in Marx. Vygotksy, however, was already known in the West in the 1980s due to his knowledge of the fields of pedagogy and psychology. Over the last decade there has been a second surge of interest in his work, most of which still only exists in Russian.13

Scientists who have taken an interest in Vygotsky’s life14 have drawn attention to the discussions about the situation in the country in the early 1930s and to the fact that the academic and political authorities criticized the cultural-historical theory. The interpretation of these events is still subject to discussion. “One can view this period of soviet psychology’s history from two sides: as a story of the blacklisting of a member of the ‘non-party intelligentsia’, or as a beginning of the critical appraisal of his work. We argue that the two points of view can be defended.” 15

This subtle assessment is helpfully completed by that of an Italian Marxist, Angiola Massuco Costa, an expert in 1930s USSR psychology: “It must be said that, on the whole, these criticisms were justified and useful. They encouraged psychologists to be more rigorous in their research, to take on a wider view of reality and to apply other analytical techniques.”

In 1936, two years after Vygotsky’s premature death, peadology was forbidden in the Soviet Union, because it made testing the only way to find out about children’s capacities, and children were assigned to special or normal education based on the limited information gathered from test results. “These tests, and the peadology that used them, were designed as if the mind was governed by fatalism, excluding any possibility of change.”16 Some scholars think that this was a posthumous attack on Vygotsky’s work and views. But that is hardly believable because no one was more against idolatry of testing technics than he was.

Vygotsky and Piaget

In his work Vygotsky aroused controversy regarding Piaget’s conception of child development.17

The developmental theories of the famous Swiss psychologist can be summarized in the following way: as long as the child is in the appropriate learning environment, intelligence will develop according to four fixed stages that are genetically determined and essential for development. These stages are the sensorimotor stage, the pre-operational stage, the concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. Knowledge develops throughout these stages. According to Piaget, any cultural addition is determined by a biological process of adaptation to the individual’s environment. New forms of knowledge are acquired through interaction between the process of assimilation (using an existing mental schema to deal with a new situation) and that of accommodation (adapting to new situations resulting in a change in mental schemata).”18

The first difference of opinion between Vygotsky and Piaget concerns the invariant sequence of the four stages. Piaget saw development as essentially a biological process and said that teaching methods that do not consider the stage the child is at are inefficient and useless. He goes even further by saying that “thought operations (…) are determined by the general coordination of actions (…) and not by language or by social transmission. The general coordination of actions is based on coordination of the nervous system, which does not depend on society.”19 Vygotsky, however, believed that an appropriate teaching method could stimulate or even change fundamentally natural development and maturation.

The second difference of opinion between the two psychologists concerns a particular type of language often observed during a child’s playtime. It could be described as thinking out loud. Piaget calls this language ‘egocentric’, as it has no communicative function: its only emotional domain is the ‘me’ of the child. Vygotsky, on the other hand, believes that this is an external language that is progressively internalized. Thinking out loud later becomes thinking silently. Therefore, he does not believe that this language is linked to any kind of child egocentricity.

“Unlike Piaget, we do not believe that development proceeds to socialization but rather to a transformation of social relations into psychological functions.”20 This quotation from Luria, who was one of Vygotsky’s students, asserts that a child’s ego does not evolve towards the social, rather social relations are integrated by the child. It is through this psychological integration mechanism that man becomes the “ensemble of social relations”.21

Piaget discovered Vygotsky’s work after the latter’s death and responded to his criticism in the 1960s. In his response he says that the absence of empathy (the ability to put oneself in somebody else’s position) is a barrier to intellectual cooperation.22 He also criticizes Vygotsky for being too optimistic regarding the social influence.23

For Vygotsky, one of Piaget’s positive contributions was that he did not consider the child as a miniature adult who was lacking this or that but rather as an entity in his own right. He defined what was distinctive about child thought and based his theory on a developmental concept. Piaget limited himself to strict observation techniques without any subjective interference and by being particularly thorough in his clinical method.

Vygotsky believed that in order to solve certain problems, Piaget had to resort to a theory of child autism, of egocentric thought24, “despite Piaget’s determination to avoid this”.25Freud’s theory, which was also taken on by Piaget, maintains that autistic thinking is the first and most basic stage in mental development, on top of which all other stages are built. In Piaget’s terms, the earliest form of thought is a ‘form of hallucinatory imagination’ and the satisfaction principle, which governs autistic thought, is thought to precede the reality principle, which governs logic and rational thinking.”26

However, according to Sève, “the genetic method in psychology cannot say that the psyche develops from a natural evolution of the species, a biological phylogenesis that also takes place at the individual level. The development of the psyche should be understood as being social in origin. Tools and mental functions are produced from social relations. These tools and mental functions are appropriated and internalized by the child, allowing him to develop mentally to adulthood.”27

Philosophical Constructivism and Pedagogical Constructivism

Within the field of pedagogy, the so-called “socio-constructivist” theory is sometimes associated with Vygotskian thought. Is this association justified?

First of all, and to avoid any misunderstanding, we must differentiate pedagogical constructivism from philosophical constructivism. The latter believes that any theory about reality does not say anything definitive about reality as such. This is a neo-Kantian theory. Indeed, Immanuel Kant believed that reality itself, the “thing-in-itself”, cannot be known. We can only know something “for-itself’, in other words linked to us, or perceived by us.

The most well known proponent of radical constructivism is Ernst von Glaserfeld.28 He believes that knowledge is not the reflection of an objective reality but rather a “construction” built by an individual’s brain (or by the socio-cultural environment). The only reality is therefore that which is perceived by our senses. The rest is just speculation.29

Pedagogical constructivism, on the other hand, simply states that “learning involves a mental reorganization of the thought system and the existing knowledge of the individual. If this reorganization does not take place, no new knowledge can be integrated.”30 Pedagogical socio-constructivism further emphasizes the “significant role played by social interaction in the construction of knowledge.”31 As Nico Hirtt writes, “good constructivist teaching is very efficient and very liberating but completely opposed to philosophical Constructivism.”32 This general pedagogical conception receives no criticism.

Taking the best of both sides and reconcile Piaget and Vygotsky?

Things become problematic when certain socio-constructivists combine or take the best of Vygotsky’s and Piaget’s theories. This is unacceptable, as we cannot use Vygotsky for something that he would be strongly against. The following statement shows how Vygotsky distances himself from biological determinism: “The integration of a child into the culture cannot, on one hand, be related to the process of biological maturation, nor can it, on the other hand, fully result from the simple technical assimilation of external competences.”33

In its neo-Piagetian form, socio-constructivism focuses on the teacher-student relationship. Each student is unique and complex. The student builds his own version of the truth, which is influenced by his family, cultural and educational environments. This background determines the knowledge acquired. In this process, it is the student who is the creator. He is not a passive mirror. The teacher does not take on the traditional role of teacher; he no longer acts as a transmitter of knowledge. He does not lecture but rather asks questions. He is a “facilitator” of the learning process, which stems from the student. Amongst some we can even see hints of philosophical constructivism, as we can see from the definition of “constructivism (philosophy of education)” in the English version of Wikipedia.

“In fact, for the social constructivist, reality is not something that we can discover because it does not pre-exist prior to our social invention of it. Kukla (2000) argues that reality is constructed by our own activities and that people, together as members of a society, invent the properties of the world.”34

Knowledge is just a human “product”, which is socially and culturally constructed.

Schneuwly points out the fundamental scourge of this pedagogical socio-constructivism. The concept of ‘environment’ is reduced to almost nothing, both in space and in time. “Great emphasis is placed on the immediate interaction between people, which mainly draws focus towards learning processes within relatively short time-frames. Emphasis is also laid on the appropriation of relatively undeveloped techniques or skills through the internalization of regulation and control mechanisms. The issue of development as a fundamental restructuring of psychological systems is virtually absent. The use of the term socio-cultural in contrast to Vygotsky’s cultural-historical term is revealing. They imagine a group of cultural elements in a social context built on social interactions and immediate situations.”35

Some constructivist pedagogues tend to systematically resort to “problem-based learning” where at the beginning of each learning unit students are given a specific task to complete under certain conditions. This is done in order to force students to overcome a certain number of cognitive obstacles through which they “construct” new representations and deconstruct old ones. Again, in itself this approach cannot be criticized. However, it is dangerous to turn it into a system. As Nico Hirtt from the association “Appel pour une école démocratique” (Call for a democratic school) says “because then we end up placing more importance on the form than the content. The most important is that the student remains active, regardless of the knowledge that has been transferred to him.”36

Competency-based approach

A similar perversion can be seen in the competency-based approach, which is the official teaching method in schools in French-speaking Belgium, (and to a lesser extent in Flanders), and also in Quebec, in Geneva, in the Netherlands and more recently in France.

Before we talk of Nico Hirtt’s views on the education system in Belgium (Europe), some explanations are needed. After the Second World War (1939-1945) large parts of the world became socialist (namely the former USSR and the People’s Republic of China). But in the remaining, so-called “western” or “free” world, capitalism rose out of its ashes. There was a large demand of the industry for a working force with a at least a minimum of manual and intellectual skills. In the sixties, a large scale democratic movement went through Europe and the US, initiated by their youth (in Berkeley, Berlin, Paris, Milan and so on). They wanted to put an end to the one-way-only teaching method (according to which the teacher gives explanations and the student only listens to him), but at the same time they took part in a vast peace movement against the war in Vietnam launched by the American Establishment. That led (together with the struggle of the Vietnamese and Chinese people) to the final victory of the People’s Army of Vietnam in 1975. Today, we are experiencing a terrible setback. The school-system in the USA and in Europe has become a two-track system. On one hand, there are elite schools which train upper-class intellectuals dedicated to preaching the language of capital and their personal career. On the other, there are ghetto schools where children are squeezed until their sixteenth birthday and they are deemed fit to join the ranks of the unemployed or the working poor.

Nico Hirtt says that “In the competency-based approach, problem-solving is not used to acquire knowledge, it is the object itself of knowledge. The objective is the skill, in other words the ability to mobilize knowledge, know-how, and attitudes when… problem-solving. This approach is an adapted pedagogy, that has a narrow utilitarian vision of knowledge and education.”37

On the other hand, this unhealthy obsession with competency leads us inevitably to the cult of success. Any failure is considered as negative. From this arises a manic desire to constantly measure acquired competences. Vygotsky is against this veneration of tests. “Intellectual and motor skills do not match each other. There can be a delay in each area. Furthermore, their development curbs far from coincide, each one has it own dynamic. This state of affairs leads to a sudden and essential split with today’s psychological evaluation techniques, which means that we inevitably go from a series of superficial measurements to an evaluation of aptitudes and to specialized research on the specific particularities of different functions.”38 Since Vygotsky’s era, the data on the relative value of psycho-metrics have considerably changed. Between complete rejection and a ‘proper’ place in a diversified competence evaluation system, Vygotsky always attempted to find a middle ground. He also qualified his remarks by insisting on the importance of know-how: it is important “to show the influence that education and the know-how assimilated by the student have on each other and on his cultural development.”39

All teaching methods are the reflection of a vision of society. According to Nico Hirtt, “the aim of the competency-based approach is not ‘to equip the future citizen with knowledge that will give him the strength to understand the world’ but rather to arm the future producer with the ability to adapt to new knowledge. This ability will ensure that he remains employable throughout his entire life.”40 This is framed within the general context of the global economic crisis. “Since the end of the 1980s, the OECD, the World Bank, the European Round Table of Industrialists and the European Commission have been calling massively for learning to be refocused on skills. This is because employers recognize the key factors of dynamism and flexibility in these skills. A workforce that possesses these skills is constantly able to adapt to demand and to ever-changing means of production.”41

Society is going in the opposite direction to the 1960s and 1970s trend of democratizing school. “Advanced capitalist countries, which are struggling with increasingly harsh budgetary restrictions, are forced to adapt their teaching to a two-tier evolution in the work market: flexibility and the polarization of skills. In this context, it is unrealistic to continue down the path, started in the 50s and 60s, heading towards the democratization of general education, which had initially been designed for the children of the ruling classes.42

Societal Change

For Vygotsky the education and the training of the youth contribute towards the construction of socialism. This system works towards the advent of a new man. In 1930, Vygotksy revealed the main objective of his psychological and pedagogical work in an article titled “The socialist alteration of man”. In their phalansteries, utopian socialists, such as the textile owner Robert Owen43, began implementing a new small-scale education system that combined intellectual and manual work. Its goal was to increase production and to enhance man’s level of education. The abilities to constantly change jobs and demonstrate great flexibility have become desirable in order to become a master of the new society. What is even more desirable is to be able to intellectually master the technical relations of production. As Marx said, under the current conditions we could imagine men and women working together towards a new form of human development. However, that will remain out of reach as long as the capitalist system and its organization of industry are intact. The socialist revolution will grant us access to a new social order and to new ways of organizing social relations. During this process the human personality itself will be modified in three ways. First of all, there will be freedom from oppression. Secondly, the future will be built on the basis of harmony between physical and intellectual work and production will benefit the people and the people alone. Finally, a new set of social relations will be built gradually as the new society starts to take shape. This will inevitably lead to changes in man’s consciousness and in his individual and social behavior. New generations, passing through new forms of education, will bring about a new type of man and woman. Social and polytechnic education will play an extremely important role. Collectivism, the unification of intellectual and physical labour, a change in the relationships between the sexes, the abolition of the gap between physical and intellectual development, these are the key aspects of that alteration of man, which is the subject of our discussion.”44

Summary: the terms of debate between Piagetian constructivism, the cultural-historical theory and the competency-based approach

1. The concept of the environment: Piagetian pedagogical constructivism limits the environment to the interaction between the teacher and the student. Together they build the knowledge that the student internalizes. Vygotsky speaks about culture being integrated into the psyche via language. Piaget’s view of the teacher-student relationship overlooks the influence of society’s dominant ideology, which is determined by the teacher’s outlook and the student’s expectations which are influenced by his social origins and the attitude he has acquired towards these origins.

2. The role of knowledge in the education of man. The competency-based approach prepares the student to be flexible and efficient in order to fit into society’s current mode of production. The student has to mobilize his potential to serve the interests of production and of the resulting profit rather than attempt to transform society. The purpose of this know-how is to make profit, not to construct a unified and active personality.

3. With regards to the objectives of education in general and of the school in particular, we cannot say that education just comes down to a body of knowledge, know-how and personal attitudes without stating what all of that is used for. If we do so, we might reinforce the existing unequal social relations.

4. Learning skills is positive and a creative man will be able to use them for his own purposes. Without a vision of a united and critical-minded man, there is a risk that education will degenerate into the training of submissive slaves who are at the beck and call of the powerful. The competency-based approach is restricted to training brains (idiots?) that will be useful for the economy whereas Vygotsky wants to create a man who has general knowledge and various skills and who is an actor of change and development in the society to which he belongs.

This article was originally published in French, on website of Aped, ‘L’école démocratique’ on 27th August 2017. call for a democratic school, Belgium

Also avilable on the french site “groupe français d’éducation nouvelle GFEN”

Translation by Amy Gorton



1 Lucien Sève, French Marxist philosopher (1926 -…)

2 A branch of science concerned with illnesses that prevent a person from living a normal life.

3 Vygotsky, “Histoire du développement des fonctions psychiques supérieurs” La dispute, 2014, p.296

4 Ibid., p.256

5 Ibid., p.256

6 Ibid., p.259-60

7 Ibid., p.298

8 Ibid., p.260

9 Ibid., p.249

10 Ibid., p.572

11 Ibid., p.549-51

12 Ibid., p.553

13 One of the main problems is that his manuscripts – and there are thought to be around 1,800 (!) – are in the hands of a Canadian company that has promised to publish them. We have been waiting for these translations for 10 years, in vain…

14 Dont Van der Veer Rene and Valsiner Jaan, in “Understanding Vygotsky”; Angiola Massucco Costa in “Psychologie soviétique”; Angel Rivière in “La psychologie de Vygotski” and notably Lucien Sève in “Avec Vygotski” under the direction of Yves Clot

15 Van der Veer Rene and Valsiner, Jaan, “Understanding Vygotski, a quest for synthesis”, p. 389, Blackwell, Oxford.

16 Ibid., p.146

17 Vygotsky, “Pensée et langage” Chapter 2 le problème du langage et de la pensée dans la théorie de J. Piaget (p.65-134)

18 Bronckart Jean-Paul, “Piaget ou l’avenir incertain d’une œuvre d’exception” in Sciences Humaines nr. 77

19 Piaget Jean, “épistémologie des sciences de l’homme” Gallimard, Paris, 1970, p.177. Quoted in “Avec Vygotski”

20 Luria, “Mind in society, the development of higher psychological processes” Harvard University Press, 1978, ed. Cole, John-Steiner, Scibner, Souberman, p. 233

21 Marx, commentary on the 8th thesis of Feuerbach: “man is the ensemble of social relations”.

22 Vygotsky, “Pensée et langage” p. 503

23 Ibid., p.503

24 Ibid., p.83

25 Ibid., p.69

26 Ibid., p.81

27 Ibid., p.26

28 German philosopher, cyberneticist and psychologist (1927-2010)

29 If we shift this radicalism to day-to-day reality, we get this: a person who crosses the road without seeing a car coming towards him cannot be run over, as anything that is outside of perception does not exist. By saying this we are preaching the virtues of the philosopher’s legendary distractedness. According to this philosophy, Barcelona’s cathedral would have been built much quicker as a tram wouldn’t have been able to run over the cathedral’s architect, Gaudi. And yet, the final plans for the building only existed in Gaudi’s mind…

30 Vellas, Etiennette, “Le socio-constructivisme n’est pas une théorie de l’enseignement”, University of Geneva (undated) Available online: (consulted on August 3rd, 2017).

31 Ibid.

32 private correspondence Hirtt-Coopmans

33 Vygotsky, “L’histoire des fonctions psychiques supérieures” Ibid., p. 506


35 Schneuwly, Bernard, “Vygotski, l’école et l’écriture”, Cahier 118, October 2008, p. 146-7

36 Hirtt Nico, “Intelligence, savoirs, pédagogies, Réconcilier la théorie et la pratique” in “l’école démocratique”, nr 59, September 2014, p. 28

37 Ibid., p.29

38 Vygotsky, “L’histoire des fonctions psychiques supérieures » Ibid., p. 510

39 Ibid., p.518

40 Hirtt Nico, “Approche par competence: l’économie du savoir”, 16th November, 2016

41 Ibid.

42 Ibid.

43 Robert Owen, English capitalist and social reformer 1771-1856