02. The history of the reception of Vygotsky’s paper on play in Russia and the West
This article describes the responses of academic researchers and teachers to Vygotsky’s paper on play, published in Russian in 1966 and, in a new translation, in the present issue of this journal. That paper has had a major influence on research in play both in Russia and in the West. Its cultural-historical view of the development of play, and its key theoretical and methodological ideas, have continued to reverberate and to generate and influence a huge body of work. The article identifies the key trends in these responses to Vygotsky’s paper, reviewing the work by major scholars in this field, such as Elkonin, Leonte’ev, and Zaporozhets. The article also describes how Vygotsky’s ideas in this paper became the foundation of the national curriculum for early childhood in the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.
The article critiques some of the research which, using the 1978 translation of Vygotsky’s paper, presented his approach as that of a cognitivist or as a social constructivist and argues that these reflect a tradition in the West of simplifying Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory and methodology. It also reviews some contemporary studies by researchers working within the cultural-historical approach to play. These are making original contributions to the cultural- historical conception of play or bringing new insights into play as a leading activity in children’s development.
International Research in Early Childhood Education, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 26–37