Reaching higher ground : The importance of Lev Vygotsky’s therapeutic legacy for social work

Book chapter


Reid, Katherine. (2020). Reaching higher ground : The importance of Lev Vygotsky’s therapeutic legacy for social work. In In Morley, Christine, Ablett, Phillip, Noble, Carolyn and Cowden, Stephen (Ed.). The Routledge handbook of critical pedagogies for social work pp. 58-70 Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351002042-5
AuthorsReid, Katherine
EditorsMorley, Christine, Ablett, Phillip, Noble, Carolyn and Cowden, Stephen
Abstract

Clinical discourses have infiltrated social work, resulting in an increased focus on assessing children’s developmental deficits and recommending therapeutic intervention. Children are often positioned as passive recipients of such therapeutic interventions. The focus of this chapter is Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist who published a series of studies between the 1920s and 1930s which presented an entirely new and ground breaking understanding of child development. The chapter discusses Vygotsky’s life, career and some of his collective learning concepts such as the ‘Zone of Proximal development’. While Vygotsky’s writing has not been widely considered in social work, he offers a ‘revolutionary’ project for social workers to generate agentic discourses that position children as ‘active agents’ in their own learning regarding the challenges they face. The chapter exposes how the co-construction of knowledge can occur in a collaborative, conversational partnership with children. Vygotsky presents critical social work pedagogy and practice with a challenge to find discursive therapeutic ways of working with children to distance themselves from their immediate experiences to support concept development. Concept development is crucial for children’s ‘self-mastery’, to enact these concepts in future actions. In doing this, children can reach ‘higher ground’, in order to achieve agency within their unique social-cultural and historical context.

Page range58-70
Year2020
Book titleThe Routledge handbook of critical pedagogies for social work
PublisherRoutledge
Place of publicationLondon, United Kingdom
ISBN9781032175386
9781351002042
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351002042-5
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85089049714
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online17 Feb 2020
Print2020
Publication process dates
Deposited25 Aug 2022
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