On This Day … 11 June

People (Births)

  • 1914 – Jan Hendrik van den Berg, Dutch psychiatrist and academic (d. 2012).

People (Deaths)

  • 1934 – Lev Vygotsky, Belarusian-Russian psychologist and theorist (b. 1896).

Jan Hendrik van den Berg

Jan Hendrik van den Berg (11 June 1914 to 22 September 2012) was a Dutch psychiatrist notable for his work in phenomenological psychotherapy (cf. phenomenology) and metabletics, or “psychology of historical change.” He is the author of numerous articles and books, including A different existence and The changing nature of man.

Between 1933 and 1936, he earned diplomas in primary school and high school education, the latter with a focus on mathematics. He also published papers on entomology. He then entered medical school at Utrecht University specialising in psychiatry and neurology. He completed his doctoral dissertation in 1946. One year later, after studying in both France and Switzerland, Dr. Van den Berg was appointed to Head of Department at the psychiatry clinic at Utrecht. At Utrecht, he lectured in psychopathology in the medical school and was also appointed to Professor of Pastoral Psychology in the theology department. In 1954, Dr. van den Berg took a position of Professor of Psychology at Leiden University. Since 1967, he has been a visiting professor at many universities and conducted lecture tours internationally.

Having lived most of his later life in a monumental house at the market in the historical centre of Woudrichem, he died in nearby Gorinchem.

Lev Vygotsky

Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky (Russian: Лев Семёнович Выго́тский; Belarusian: Леў Сямёнавіч Выго́цкі; 17 November 1896 to 11 June 1934) was a Soviet psychologist, known for his work on psychological development in children. He published on a diverse range of subjects, and from multiple views as his perspective changed over the years. Among his students was Alexander Luria.

He is known for his concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD): the distance between what a student (apprentice, new employee, etc.) can do on their own, and what they can accomplish with the support of someone more knowledgeable about the activity. Vygotsky saw the ZPD as a measure of skills that are in the process of maturing, as supplement to measures of development that only look at a learner’s independent ability.

Also influential are his works on the relationship between language and thought, the development of language, and a general theory of development through actions and relationships in a socio-cultural environment.

Vygotsky is the subject of great scholarly dispute. There is a group of scholars who see parts of Vygotsky’s current legacy as distortions and who are going back to Vygotsky’s manuscripts in an attempt to make Vygotsky’s legacy more true to his actual ideas.

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