Get Instant Help From 5000+ Experts For

Writing: Get your essay and assignment written from scratch by PhD expert

Rewriting: Paraphrase or rewrite your friend's essay with similar meaning at reduced cost

Editing:Proofread your work by experts and improve grade at Lowest cost

And Improve Your Grades
Phone no. Missing!

Enter phone no. to receive critical updates and urgent messages !

Attach file

Error goes here

Files Missing!

Please upload all relevant files for quick & complete assistance.

Guaranteed Higher Grade!
Free Quote
Vygotsky on Imagination Development

Concept of Imagination Development

Lev Vygotsky was an educational theorist and psychologist of extraordinarily wide knowledge whose major writings deal with our entire learning-teaching-development experience. Despite a wide-ranging interest in Vygotskian theory, the issue of imagination remains outside of the main line of general inquiries into his work. Thus, there is a gap in the list of “Vygotskiana” topics that are studied in North America and Vygotsky’s writings on the imagination and its development have only recently become a topic of discussion. This article attempts to fill the gap. To understand Lev Vygotsky’s (1986–1934) views on the development of imagination, it is necessary to recognize that he did not accept a narrow view of imagination as some sort of innate and relatively stable capacity of a child or adult—a capacity that does not change over time and is not necessarily connected to the intellectual development and/or cultural development of the individual.

This interpretation of imagination is common among North American educators, many of whom consider imagination to be an unconscious, or semi-conscious, autistic, spontaneous capacity. For them, imagination plays out in childhood conflicts but is not influenced by teaching or learning processes in school. This idea of imagination is obviously closely tied to the specific  notion of development itself, which is viewed as a set of gradual maturation processes separate from learning-teaching (obuchenie).

This concept of imagination separates the role of imagination development in children’s development from their cultural development or from their intellectual abilities, and it denies the link between the development of imagination and the processes of learning-teaching. At the same time, it has also reduced the choice of methods and instruments that educators can use to evaluate and assess the development of imagination and the types of interventions that are possible to help develop children’s imagination. 

As we shall see, Vygotsky views the development of imagination as a part of the cultural development of the child’s personality. He claims that in school the imagination undergoes a revolutionary shift that profoundly impacts students’ cultural development, intellectual development, personality, behavior, and ways of understanding and making sense of world. According to Vygotsky, it is in this imaginary world of imaginary heroes, testing of boundaries, and imaginary intellectual games that the real battle for the development of personality, identity formation, and development of thinking is fought out during school years. Thus, we cannot overemphasize the importance of a detailed analysis of imagination development during the school years.

Vygotsky's Understanding of Development

Because traditional child psychology does not distinguish between biological and cultural lines of development, Vygotsky judged that it overlooks the main problem of child psychology—the problem of the development of the child’s personality. He wrote Only a decisive departure beyond the methodological limits of traditional child psychology can bring us to a study of the development of that same higher mental synthesis that, on a solid basis, must be called the personality of the child. The history of cultural development of the child brings us to the history of development of personality. 

Vygotsky’s research led him to conclude that the traditional psychology of development could not handle the task of researching cultural development properly. He argued, Child psychology did not know the problem of higher mental functions or, what is the same, the problem of cultural development of the child. For this reason the central and greater problem of all psychology, the problem of personality and its development, still remains closed. 

“Even now,” Vygotsky continued, “many psychologists are inclined to consider the facts of cultural changes in our behavior from their natural aspect and think of them as facts of habit formation or as intellectual reactions directed toward a cultural content”

It should be very clear by now that the main theoretical controversy over the development of imagination is between those who, like Freud and Piaget, stress the unconscious, or semi-conscious, autistic, spontaneous characteristics of imagination that play out in childhood conflicts, and those, following Vygotsky, who consider imagination to be an active, conscious process of meaning making, an attribute of normal thought, and primarily, a cultural psychological function. 

Piaget, for example, had worked under the assumption that imaginative thinking is the opposite of realistic thinking (in this he agrees with Freud) and that childish thought, undirected and egocentric, is gradually supposed to be replaced by adult logical, realistic thought. Here, imaginative abilities and realistic thinking are viewed as opposite and even antagonistic characteristics of consciousness. 

This theoretical view about the nature of imagination, however, has led us to the conclusion that imagination is a primary, natural process, something that a child is already born with, and that exists regardless of prior school experience or any educational influence. If this is the case, then we, as educators, have no direct ways or means of influencing the process of its development. This divorce between imagination and logical thinking in Piagetian theory is particularly regrettable for one more reason: in a theory where imagination and conceptual thinking are treated as separate (and opposite) entities, there is nothing but a non-communicable and nonverbal, autistic form of egocentric thought connected to the imaginary world of a child.

Vygotsky also disagreed with Piaget on one more, very significant point: the role of language in the development of imagination. For Vygotsky, language is one of the most powerful cultural tools, and it plays a central role in his theory of the development of imagination. However, unlike Vygotsky, Piaget did not see a connection between language development and imagination development. Vygotsky noticed this difference, when he wrote, “From the perspectives of Freud and Piaget, an essential characteristic of primal child fantasy is the fact that this is a nonverbal and consequently non-communicable form of thought.”

sales chat
sales chat