Vygotsky in a nutshell
Some Background to start you off:
Vygotsky was born in Western Russia in 1896, the same year as Piaget.
He believed psychology needed to explain all of personality, not just singular behaviors, and proposed a developmental model which assigned a primary role to culture and contemporary issues in psychology.
He received a law degree in 1917 from Moscow University, and also studied in philosophy, psychology and literature. He became interested in learning disabilities, and entered medical school focusing on neurophysiology
On Jan. 6, 1924 he made a presentation before the 2nd All Russian Psychoneurological Congress in Leningrad. At this time, Pavlov's reflexology was the dominant force in psychology. Vygotsky criticized both Pavlov and the Gestalt psycholgists of the time. He referred to Pavlov's research on dogs and Kohler's on apes as based in a "zoological" model. He believed these studies ignored the critical difference between people and animals.
Vygotsky aregues that animal have only 2 responses
1) innate reflexes, and
2) acquired or conditioned responses
Vygotsky argued humans have 3 responses
1) Historical experience, which includes all of the experience of former generations
2) Experience of others, because humans can know about things fron\m other humans, and
3) Active adaptation vs. Passive adaptation. Humans have the unique ability to create in our mind, then construct what we have seen or done in our mind in our world.