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Vygotsky and the Promise of Public Education

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Jennifer A. Vadeboncoeur

Vygotsky and the Promise of Public Education recontextualizes the scholarship of educator and psychologist Lev Vygotsky, highlighting its relevance to contemporary issues in public education. Emphasizing the historical, social, and cultural formation of conscious awareness, Jennifer A. Vadeboncoeur advances Vygotsky’s project with current research in psychology, enabling the redefinition of central concepts such as learning, teaching, and developing. This attention to how we conceptualize learning and teaching is vital to the project of crafting schools to fulfill the promise of public education. Written for teacher candidates, educators, researchers, and policy-makers, this book both recognizes the complications of teaching and learning in public schools and contributes to the scholarship on the critical possibilities of schools as social institutions. The significance of public education for each and every child and teacher, and the future that is created in each student-teacher relationship, is re-centered as, perhaps, the most worthwhile project of our time.

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Unifying Theory and Practice

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A psychology which is called upon to confirm the truth of its thinking in practice … gives the practical disciplines a fundamentally different place in the whole structure of the science than the former psychology did. … [Previously,] [t]heory was in no way dependent on practice. Practice was the conclusion, the application, an excursion beyond the boundaries of science, an operation which lay outside science and came after science, which began after the scientific operation was considered completed. Success or failure had practically no effect on the fate of the theory. Now the situation is the opposite. Practice pervades the deepest foundations of the scientific operation and reforms it from beginning to end. Practice sets the tasks and serves as the supreme judge of theory, as its truth criterion. (Vygotsky, 1927/1997c, pp. 305–306)

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