Vygotsky at Work and Play
By Lois Holzman
Routledge – 2009 – 168 pages
Vygotsky at Work and Play relates the discoveries and insights of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky to ordinary people and their communities. The author—working with her intellectual partner Fred Newman—has advanced a unique performance-based methodology of development and learning that draws upon a fresh and in some ways unconventional reading of Vygotsky. In this book, Holzman shows this methodology at work in key learning environments: psychotherapy, classrooms, out-of-school youth programs, and the workplace.
The book vividly describes Vygotskian-inspired programs involving thousands of people from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, ages and occupations. Interwoven in each chapter are discussions of Vygotsky’s understandings of play, speaking, thinking, the zone of proximal development, the individual and the group. Holzman brings practice and theory together to provide a way forward for those who wish to liberate human development and learning from the confines of the social scientific paradigm, the institutional location of educational and psychological research, and the practices that derive from them.
Vygotsky at Work and Play presents a challenge to the underlying distinctions and boundaries of psychology, most significantly to the presumption of a cognitive-emotive divide, the notion of fixed identity, the privileging of the individual over the group, and the instrumental nature of play and performance.
The book is essential reading for researchers and professionals in educational and developmental psychology, psychotherapy, cultural historical activity, social science, performance studies and education.
"Holzman skillfully interweaves theory and practice throughout the book’s six chapters … As a concise volume, it manages to avoid becoming a dry engagement with the subject matter, and, in discussing the wider significance of the Vygotskian approach to education and child development, the book should be of interest to academics from a range of interdisciplinary research areas." - Michael Thomas, Professor, Nagoya University of Commerce & Business, Japan, in British Journal of Educational Technology
"I highly recommend this work to students, educators, and practitioners … I found this to be a fascinating application of Vygotsky’s theory to the work environment and organizational culture." - Stephanie L. Brooke, Ph.D., in PsycCRITIQUES
"Anyone who has an interest in human learning and development should have this original piece of work on their shelves." – Tania Heap, associate lecturer, The Open University
"Educationalists and Psychologists and all those interested in learning and development in a humane and caring society need to know about this kind of approach. This is a readable and accessible account of many years of interesting work in this tradition." – Brahm Norwich, University of Exeter
Acknowledgements. Foreword. Preface. Method(s) and Marx(s). Vygotsky in Therapy: Creating Zones of Emotional Development. In the Classroom: Learning to Perform and Performing to Learn. Outside of School: Creatively Imitating and Incorporating the Other. At the Workplace: Looking at Ourselves. Changing Relationships. Notes. References.
Lois Holzman is a developmental psychologist and Vygotskian scholar and practitioner and is Director at the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy, New York.