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Psychological Tools: A Sociocultural Approach to Education

Psychological Tools: A Sociocultural Approach to Education

by Alex KozulinAlex Kozulin


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The concept of "psychological tools" is a cornerstone of L. S. Vygotsky's sociocultural theory of cognitive development. Psychological tools are the symbolic cultural artifacts—signs, symbols, texts, formulae, and most fundamentally, language—that enable us to master psychological functions like memory, perception, and attention in ways appropriate to our cultures. In this lucid book, Alex Kozulin argues that the concept offers a useful way to analyze cross-cultural differences in thought and to develop practical strategies for educating immigrant children from widely different cultures.

Kozulin begins by offering an overview of Vygotsky's theory, which argues that consciousness arises from communication as civilization transforms "natural" psychological functions into "cultural" ones. He also compares sociocultural theory to other innovative approaches to learning, cognitive education in particular. And in a vivid case study, the author describes his work with recent Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, whose traditional modes of learning were oral and imitative, and who consequently proved to be quick at learning conversational Hebrew, but who struggled with the reading, writing, and formal problem solving required by a Western classroom. Last, Kozulin develops Vygotsky's concept of psychological tools to promote literature as a useful tool in cognitive development.

With its explication of Vygotsky's theory, its case study of sociocultural pedagogy, and its suggested use of literary text for cognitive development, Psychological Tools will be of considerable interest to research psychologists and educators alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674007086
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 12/21/2001
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Alex Kozulin is Academic Coordinator of the International Department at the Feuerstein Institute (The International Institute for the Enhancement of Learning Potential), Jerusalem.

Table of Contents



The Concept of Psychological Activity

Piaget, Vygotsky, and the Cognitive Revolution

The Mediated Learning Experience and Psychological Tools

Cognitive Education

Cognitive Skills in Immigrant and Ethnic Minority Students

Literature as a Psychological Tool

The Challenges of Prospective Education References



What People are Saying About This

Jane E. Knox-Voina

Clarifies for the contemporary reader just how Vygotsky's thought evolved, in clear, precise language that makes Vygotsky's work accessible to novices. Kozulin gives us a fresh perspective on Vygotsky's key concept of psychological tools by showing how it works in classrooms filled with children from radically different cultures.
Jane E. Knox-Voina, Bowdoin College

Sheldon White

Kozulin has established himself as a significant interpreter of Vygotsky, and Psychological Tools makes a major contribution to our ability to think in psychological terms about what actually happens in the process of education.
Sheldon White, Harvard University

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