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Vygotsky's philosophy: Constructivism and its criticisms examined


Charlotte Hua Liu 
Graduate School of Education, Adelaide University, Australia
charlotte.liu@adelaide.edu.au 

Robert Matthews 
Graduate School of Education, Adelaide University, Australia
robert.matthews@adelaide.edu.au

 

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Abstract

Criticisms have recently been voiced of constructivism, the leading metaphor of human learning since the 1970s. Inspired by inconsistencies in interpretations of constructivism in current literature, we examine the underlying epistemological beliefs of popular constructivist theories and their criticisms. We find that popular constructivist claims and criticisms, instead of being based on contrasting philosophical ideas, are similarly grounded on the dualist separatism of the human mind and the external world. We then present our interpretation of Vygotsky's historical-dialectical-monist philosophy, through discussions of Vygotskyan concepts including social environment of learning, the role of language, and individual consciousness. The paper concludes that confusions about Vygotsky's theory often arise from concepts taken literally and from the lack of appreciation of the general philosophical orientation underpinning his works. 

Constructivism, criticisms, Vygotsky's philosophy, historical-dialectical-monism, paradigmatic philosophy

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 Liu, C.H. and Matthews, R. (2005) Vygotsky's philosophy: Constructivism and its criticisms examined. International Education Journal, 6 (3), 386-399.
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