Lev S. Vygotsky

René van der Veer
Table of contents

Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky (1896–1934) was born in Orsha in Byelorussia as the second child to a Jewish family of eight children. His parents belonged to the middle-class and stimulated the children’s interest in the belles-lettres. Each night the parents and children gathered to discuss recent plays and newly read novels, and to recite poems (Vygodskaya & Lifanova 1996). A gifted child, Vygotsky received much of his education from a private tutor and only entered school to follow the last two years of the Jewish gymnasium in Gomel, to which the family had moved. He then moved to Moscow to study law at Moscow University and philosophy and history at Shanyavsky University. But his interests were much wider and he took courses at other faculties as well. Among other things, he followed a course on the “inner form of the word”, given by the Humboldtian scholar, Gustav Shpet (cf. Shpet 1927; Van der Veer & Valsiner 1991). He also frequently attended the plays in Stanislavsky’s Art Theater and Tairov’s Chamber Theatre.

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