Theoretical and Methodological Bases of a New School Model in Russia: Cultural-Historical Psychology and the Activity Approach as the Foundation of Educational Practice

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To overcome the crisis of the modern school institution, it is necessary to qualitatively rethink its foundations and to design fundamentally new approaches to implementing the educational program. The theoretical and methodological bases of the concept of a new type of school as a development practice, based on the provisions of Russian cultural-historical psychology and the activity approach are presented. The purpose of the work is to consider in the modern context the key theoretical provisions of Russian psychology and to formulate the methodological principles arising from them, which set the conditions for organizing the educational process, thus ensuring the transition from theory to practice. The key concepts of the school model are ‘development’, ‘agency’ and ‘collaboration’: ‘infinite development’ is formulated as the supreme goal and value of the school, the development of the position of agency is considered as the main productive process, and collaboration is the main professional principle. Eight basic principles are formulated as follows: intent - implementation - reflection as a methodological scheme for organizing school processes, the principle of multidimensional development, the principle of equal importance of school activities, the principle of congruence, the principle of organizing the educational space as a space for growing up, the principle of fellowship of practices and the development-oriented approach to evaluation. Thus, the article presents the authors’ view of the school as a scientifically grounded anthropological practice. The implementation of the concept, which has already begun in Russia, is an experiment that will make it possible to verify these theoretical and methodological provisions.

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“Our school, the school of thought, humanity, social labor and poetic feeling, is already outlined. Its basis is the activity of the child itself, its gradual self-development with the help of the teacher who gives material for this self-development. But the question arises: Isn’t such a school a utopia?” P.P. Blonsky, 1916 Introduction The socio-economic, technological, moral and ethical changes that have taken place in our country over the past two decades have led to changes in education. According to a number of authors (B.D. Elkonin, I.D. Frumin, V.I. Slobodchikov, K.I. Polivanova and some others), we are currently witnessing a crisis in the traditional model of childhood. Growing up occurs in changed conditions, children and parents have significantly different experiences and feelings; therefore, the existing model of adulthood is not relevant for children. In their work Educational Space as a Development Space, B.D. Elkonin and I.D. Frumin note that the main gap that characterizes the current crisis of childhood is between the lines of growing up and education. At school, as an educational institution, students’ achievements in learning are not apparent for them as the progress of their maturation (Elkonin, Frumin, 1993). The traditional school, which has relied on the mechanisms of growing up formed centuries ago, is now forced to search for new supports. We can observe the crisis of the education system primarily from the social standpoint. As noted by V.I. Slobodchikov and Ye.I. Isaev back in 1991: “In fact, the complete isolation of the family (as a public institution) from the sphere of education (its meanings and content) has led to the replacement of proper public education by private-home education, on the one hand, and state education, on the other hand. Both forms do not open but rather obscure the sphere of social life of adults for children. As a result, a joint child-adult community cannot take shape and appears in two private forms of life, alien to each other” (Slobodchikov, Isaev, 1991. P. 37). Despite the fact that almost 30 years have passed since this article was written, we can observe this crisis even now. There is growing dissatisfaction in society with what is happening in the education system. The school is losing its “monopoly” on education. New forms of socialization are being actively developed: the Internet, a large number of ‘children’s industries’, formats of family education, etc. As a result, over the past two years, the number of children who have gone to alternative education has significantly increased - from 8 thousand to 100 thousand.[8] We have to admit that the school, trying to maintain its own organization, which has worked well for a long time, is not ready for the new situation. A contradiction arises between the unified forms of education and the increasing diversification of school students. The modern school teaches an abstract child, whereas unique children come to be taught (Polivanova, 2012). The ability to create conditions for plotting individual learning paths is a challenge for our education system. The rapid development of technologies and the renewal of knowledge, the volume and rate of growth of information require readiness and ability for continuous development throughout life. Today, the established education system is chronically late for the changing life. The answer to constant changes in the society, the environment and the world as a whole can only be the continuous personal development. Therefore, the task of providing conditions for the continuous sustainable development comes to the fore. In this context, it is particularly relevant to find ways to work in education and with education that would create conditions for a child to grow up at school as a system of child-adult communities ready to respond to the challenges of the modern world. Learning should become the practice of creating conditions for the child development. In this work, we intend to consider the possibility of building a new school based on the basic provisions of cultural-historical psychology and the activity approach. In our opinion, what is necessary for the conceptual building of a new educational practice is embedded in the Russian psychology of the last century and today should be rethought in new contexts. In order to deploy educational practice as a development practice we take as a basis the classical provisions of cultural-historical psychology and the theory of activity on human development in a cultural-historical space: - learning leads development; - child development occurs when learning is carried out in collaboration with adults in the zone of proximal development; - child development occurs in the course of appropriating the experience of joint activities with adults (interiorization); - child development occurs when, in the process of appropriating historically developed cultural forms of activities in collaboration with adults, children become agents of their activities. - child development as growing up occurs through the sequential assignment of leading types of activities; - child development is endless; - in order to promote development, psychology must become psychotechnical, i.e., overcome the “schism of theory and practice” (Vasilyuk, 1996), create development models, the source of which is ‘work-with-development’ and its reflection. The main task of our work is to substantiate the methodological principles of school design as an anthropological practice of creating a child-adult community. We focus on the transition from theoretical bases to practical implementation through the principles that determine the conditions for organizing the educational process and allow us to respond to the needs and challenges of our time. The theoretical bases of the new school model Considering development as the main value and regarding the creation of conditions for students’ development as the main purpose of the school, we turn to the national tradition of cultural-historical psychology and the activity approach to find methodological bases and theoretical justification for the three key ideas we have identified. These ideas - development, agency and collaboration - we put in the basis of the design of the new school. If we express their connection in a concise formula, we will have the following thesis: at school, development is considered as the main process, the student is an agent of learning, development and self-development, and collaboration is thought of as a form of interaction between the participants in the educational process, which is necessary for the formation and strengthening of the child’s agency. Development in the context of cultural-historical psychology and the activity approach In recent decades, Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory has become one of the most authoritative development theories in the world (Arievitch, 2017) and the author himself has become one of the most cited (Kholmogorova, 2016). Let us point out some of its features that are important for us as setting the project (practical) task of developing a new school. First, L.S. Vygotsky proceeded from the idea that psychology should become practice (Vygotsky, 1987); moreover, it was the practice of creating conditions for human development (then he associated this idea with the construction of a new society and therefore it was about developing a ‘new man’). That is, the development theory was initially conceived by him as psychotechnical. Second, L.S. Vygotsky strove for an integrated approach to development, focused his attention on the ideas of pedology, combining various aspects of development into a single whole (Vygotsky, 1999). And, third, he substantiated the thesis that learning entails development and operationalized the process of qualitative changes, introducing the concept of ‘zone of proximal development’ and ‘interiorization of cultural-historical experience’ as the child’s appropriation of experience acquired in collaboration with adults (Vygotsky, 1962, 1984). The most important concept that has been adopted by specialists working in pedagogy and developmental psychology is the zone of proximal development (ZPD). L.S. Vygotsky derived it from the problem of diagnosing the development perspective but not the current level, distinguishing the level (zone) of actual development (the area of actions that children could do completely independently) and the ZPD described by the area of actions that children could not do independently but only with the help of adults, while not just imitating them but acting consciously (Vygotsky, 1984). The concept of ZPD was rather only outlined than developed by L.S. Vygotsky. This can be seen in several important points for the practice of working with development, which were stated but not properly developed and substantiated (Zaretsky, 2009, 2016). One of the most important theses was his idea that the concept of ZPD could be transferred from cognitive development to other personality aspects (Vygotsky, 1987). The implementation of this idea led to the concept of different ZPD measurements (Belopolskaya, 1997; Kravtsova 2001; Obukhova, Korepanova, 2005; Tsukerman, 2006) and, later, to a multidimensional ZPD model (Zaretsky, 2016). First of all, it is important to state that development occurs when children collaborate with adults or peers in the ZPD. In addition, development occurs in the course of children’s conscious appropriation of cultural-historical experience, the carriers of which are adults. Interiorization is the core of the process (Wertsch, 2004). Following from this concept is the most important thesis, which substantiates the idea of infinite development. This conclusion was not made by L.S. Vygotsky himself, but it was most clearly formulated by V.P. Zinchenko (Zinchenko, 2011). Combining the idea of the ZPD with the idea of interiorization, we have the following picture of the development process: due to the fact that the experience of joint activity is appropriated in the ZPD, i.e., the methods of joint activity become the property of children, whose zone of actual development is constantly expanding - they can do more and more by themselves. But, according to the growth of their capabilities, the area in which they can consciously and productively interact with adults (i.e., their ZPD) is also expanding. And what is in their ZPD today, tomorrow will become their relevant opportunities. The well-known Vygotsky’s formula is “what children can do today in collaboration... tomorrow they will be able to do independently” (Vygotsky, 1984. P. 264). It is this logic that leads to the idea of infinite development. This idea is reinforced by Vygotsky’s most controversial statement that learning not only leads development but “one step in learning can mean a hundred steps in development” (Vygotsky, 1962). Combining this thesis with the provision on interiorization, we receive a new vision of infinite development, which is reinforced by the thesis that the concept of ZPD can be used not only to describe intellectual development but is also applicable to personal development in general, in the broadest sense of the word (Vygotsky, 1962, 1984). The questions about where steps in development can be made and in what sense we can talk about personal development are answered by a multidimensionnal ZPD model developed in the reflexive-activity approach to helping children overcome learning difficulties (Zaretsky V.K., 2013, 2016). Multidimensional model includes the vector of educational activity - the space in which the interaction between children and adults occurs, and other vectors, describing various aspects along which steps in development can be made in this activity. The most important condition for such a process to become possible is the collaboration between children and adults in the ZPD. The development principle, as a key idea, is operationalized through the idea of constructing the educational process in such a way that all students move in their ZPD, receiving exactly the help that contributes to their development. Conditions for progressive development are created in activities. The activity approach considers the continuity and successive change of activities as the basis of such development. The following principle is important, i.e., the mode of action that students have mastered at one stage of education is necessarily used at another stage of education already as a means of new activity. When designing a school based on the activity approach, it is necessary to take into account the “age” and “activity” dimensions (Gromyko et al., 2020). At each age stage, the child development is determined by the mastering of the leading type of activity for a given age, and the types of activity being mastered in the age logic presuppose a connection between various child-adult communities. In the work of V.V. Rubtsov, A.A. Margolis and V.A. Guruzhapov, the cultural-historical school is defined as a system of schools of different levels, the sequence of which is set by the line of development of historically emerging forms of consciousness and activity (Rubtsov et al., 1996). At each stage of education, children master one of the forms of consciousness and activity, which corresponds to the students’ age capabilities and the periodization of the leading types of children's activities. I.D. Frumin and B.D. Elkonin note that, if we build the educational process in such a way that children grow up in it, then systematic learning is set as a time sequence of activities (Elkonin, Frumin, 1993). Children, passing through the stages of education, expand the subject boundaries of their participation in the intent and implementation of actions and become meaningfully independent and proactive. Thus, development occurs in collaboration between children and adults in the ZPD, and the educational space of the school is set by the logic of activities and communities replacing each other. The concept of “position of agency” in cultural-historical psychology and the activity approach How does the idea of agency follow from the understanding of development in cultural-historical psychology? L.S. Vygotsky did not put forward the thesis that children are agents of the educational process. But this idea follows from the provisions discussed above: a specific feature of the ZPD is that it is an area of action where children can act consciously in cooperation with adults, discussing their plans with them. The psychological theory of activity, which develops the concept of subject of activity, began to be promoted after Vygotsky’s death by his associates and followers. And although already in their early works, P.P. Blonsky (1979), S.L. Rubinstein (1986) and, later, A.N. Leontev (1978) emphasized the activity of a person as the subject of activity, in developmental psychology the idea of a child as an agent of learning activity begins to be clearly formulated only in the 1990s (Davydov et al., 1992). The idea of learning autonomy is becoming one of the most important in developmental education approach (Tsukerman, Venger, 2010; Elkonin, 1989; Davydov, 1996). Further, through the ideas of learning autonomy, this idea of an agent of learning activity develops into the idea of a child as an agent of self-development (Tsukerman, Masterov, 1995). As the experience of working with children in the practice of the reflexive-activity approach shows, the child’s position of agency is the most important condition for activating a mechanism in which one step in learning can give one hundred steps in development (Zaretsky V.K., 2016; Zaretsky Yu.V., 2013; Nikolaevskaya, 2020; Kholmogorova, 2015). The study of school students’ positions of agency in different age groups shows that activity and awareness are necessary and sufficient conditions to qualify a student’s position as the position of agency, i.e., to be a subject of learning activity means to be a subject of its implementation and reflection (Zaretsky, 2014). Gradually, agency comes to the center of all development problems (Stetsenko, 2020). With regard to education, this was most clearly formulated by B.D. Elkonin: “Learning can be and is considered as the progress of agency. At each of its new stages, the necessary (essential) limitations of agency characteristic of the previous one are overcome” (Elkonin, 2015. P. 26). The development of an agent of learning activity begins with the cultivation of a student’s individual learning action as a proactive, independent and responsible one, in which a person’s attitude to the means and methods of understanding the educational content is expressed. The proactivity of action is manifested in the fact that children assume or do not assume the “alien” tasks of others people (teachers), independence is associated with retaining a task, finding and mastering a method of action, and responsibility implies making a decision in a situation of choice, i.e., whether moving from orientation to responsible execution or not, publishing one’s own result or not, acting in an accepted way or not (Ostroverkh, 2012). Any responsible action as carried out by a person, a subject is always “self-determination, i.e., an open denotation, a practical understanding of why and how a given individual is present here and now, that is, a kind of practical referral of oneself to a common activity given from the outside” (Elkonin, 2015. P. 30). According to B.D. Elkonin, agency is a way of life in which individuals build forms of their own behavior, and the main characteristics of agency are proactivity, independence and responsibility. Thus, we regard the child’s position of agency in activity as the most important condition for implementing the value of development. The development of a child is thought of precisely in the context of its being an agent of learning activity and self-development. In our opinion, when designing a school, it is important to assume such characteristics of the position of agency as proactivity and consciousness and to consider the progress of a child’s agency as the progress of proactive, independent and responsible forms of action at different levels of education. The provisions of cultural-historical psychology and the activity approach on collaboration Linking, as shown above, development with agency, we come to the third key idea of our project, i.e., the idea of collaboration, for which we find support in the cultural-historical tradition. To be a subject of learning activity means to be in collaborative relationships with the teacher and other participants in the educational process. We said above that one of the central conditions for children to develop is that they have the position of agency, while, at the same time, the main condition for agency is the collaborative relationship that is initially created by adults. Adults have a leading role in creating collaborative relationships, since children are not accustomed to them, and not every interaction with other people, including peers, can be considered collaboration (Sanina, 2016). Adults with experience of subject-subject relationships can create collaborative relationships with children. In children, this position arises according to the principle of “reflected agency” (Petrovsky, 2010). That is, children themselves do not have this position, but since adults take this position in the educational process and turn to it, it appears in them. And once in it and starting to act from it, children gain experience of such relationships, and the learning process becomes different. How does the process of learning activity change if it is built on the basis of collaboration? This process is described by the intent-implementation-reflection scheme proposed by N.G. Alekseev (2002). That is, collaboration begins with building a common intent (between teachers and students): adults invite children to become agents of developing their own plans and self-determination regarding the common intent. Then children have the opportunity to be agents of implementing their intents and reflecting the implementation process, which can lead to rethinking and development of these intents. In developmental learning, educational collaboration is understood as a “positional” way of organizing interaction, the basis of which is a meaningful conflict (objective contradiction) (Khasan, 1990). In educational collaboration, participants learn to distinguish between their own and someone else’s viewpoints, while simultaneously holding and agreeing on several different subject-matter positions. It is learning collaboration that gives rise to the child’s learning independence and proactivity in deploying a joint action, as well as the ability to build an action taking into account the partner’s action (Tsukerman, 1996; Chudinova, Sanina, 2016). It is important to note that any activity that involves participants in the educational process can be organized in this way, which means that any activity at school can lead to the development of agency. At the same time, collaborative relations imply serious limitations in the ways of interaction: collaboration is possible between people in the position of agency, which excludes the influence of one person on another, manipulations and other actions with a hidden purpose (Gordon, Zaretsky, 2000). Thus, collaboration is not just interaction but a certain type of relationship, i.e., equality of positions. Equality is determined by the fact that all the collaborators are equal carriers of their own intents, and collaboration is the development of their common intent. It is important that collaboration should become a basic condition for all the practices and relations of all the participants in the educational process, including parents. Methodological principles ensuring the transition from theoretical bases to educational practice The intent-implementation-reflection scheme as a methodological principle. The idea of the important role of intent and reflection follows from the thesis about the conscious interaction between children and adults in the zone of proximal development. The key difference between the intent and the goal is that the result is not predetermined: it is an idea of the results of activities in a highly uncertain situation when we are ready to completely reconsider our viewpoints after the implementation stage (Alekseev, 2002). In our understanding of reflection, we rely on the following definition: “...the process of understanding and changing the bases, methods and means of the activity being carried out.” In the process of reflection, what interferes or promotes activity is realized, new means of implementation are developed (Zaretsky V.K., 2013). Reflection connects the person’s intent with activities to implement it. According to this scheme, all school processes occur in the design logic described by the intent-implementation-reflection scheme (Alekseev, 2002). Each of the three above-described key provisions on development, agency and collaboration, which are fundamental for building education as a developmental practice, is revealed in the process of reflection. Development is directly related to the process of reflection, since it is in this process that the person ‘appropriates’ new means of activity, provided that reflection occurs in collaboration with another person. The principle of multidimensional development. In the educational process, development can occur not only in the plane of the main subject but also in other ‘planes’. The multidimensional model of the ZPD (Zaretsky V.K., 2013, 2016), developed on the basis of the provisions of cultural-historical psychology on the role of learning in the development and collaboration between children and adults in the ZPD, allows us to consider the development process as proceeding simultaneously along different vectors. Learning to solve mathematical problems, children develop their learning ability, memory, communicative and emotional competences, methods of planning and decision-making, solve problems of personal development and interpersonal relationships, tasks no less important than the solution itself. Attention to these vectors in the learning process is a fundamental moment for the practice of education as a development practice, which includes creating conditions and tracking the development process and its results. The principle of plotting individual learning paths. All school students are in their own space of development, moving in it at their own pace and in different directions. As long as development is possible, if learning takes place in the zone of proximal development, and this zone is different for everyone, then the learning process is arranged individually for each student. An individual learning path is a route that is designed jointly by a student and a teacher, based on the intent-implementation-reflection scheme, and is under their constant attention. The principle of equal importance of activities and school processes. The educational process consists of different types and forms of activity, each of which contains a resource for development through the appropriation of cultural experience. We want to outline the principle of equal importance of different types of activity in the educational process, since development can occur in any activity organized in the zone of proximal development, in which a person takes the position of agency and is in collaboration with other people, while the number of development vectors is not limited. Communication, decision-making, self-management, design, research, self-determination - we can list many processes, in which learning takes place, which is no less important for personality development than subject-matter learning. Due to such a variety of activities, in each of which there is an opportunity for collaboration and formation of the position of agency, the lifeworld of the school is formed. The principle of congruence as a principle of reliance on the values and basic ideas of the school in all school processes. A school is a unified system, a ‘lifeworld’, where there should not be different values and principles for different processes and for different participants. If we believe that the core of the learning process is the formation of position of agency and collaboration, then these provisions apply not only to educational processes but also to the processes of managing the school as a system, to supporting processes, to relationships with parents and the local community. If the student’s proactive and conscious position is important for us, then its support is possible in class, in the school canteen and in the school yard. Moreover, we consider it is important that all the participants in the educational process, including students, parents, teachers and school staff, should develop their position of agency. Collaborative relationships are important for all the participants in the educational space, in all the school processes. The principle of congruence is the correspondence and similarity of principles, methods in all spheres of the school life. For example, the very process of designing an educational space is organized as a process of joint activity, in which all the participants - students and parents - can act as co-authors, co-designers. Educational space as a space for growing up. A necessary condition for growing up in the educational space of a school is the temporal sequence of various activities, during the implementation of which the student’s independence and responsibility evolve, and this transition as a change in the agent position is apparent for all the participants in the educational process. Such “apparent growing up” as the progress of agency is achieved through the consistent development of the content of activities (educational in primary school years, educational-experimental in early adolescence, educational-productive in middle adolescence) in various forms of organizing educational work (for example, from lessons to seminars and lectures). The principle of organizing the educational space as a space for growing up necessarily requires an understanding of the specifics of the content of the mediating action of adults at each educational stage, the ways of organizing events that mean ‘age transitions’ that would allow students to experience the events of their growing up, expanding the possibilities and boundaries of their proactivity, independence and responsibility. In designing the educational space of a school, it is important to set the stages of education as a sequence of alternating forms of activities and communities, including those with historical analogs (Rubtsov et al., 1996). The principle of fellowship of practices. The principle of fellowship of practices implies the possibility of including in the educational process methods and tools from various educational practices that have common values and consider development, agency and cooperation as key ideas. These practices can have similar basic principles and different procedures, solving different problems in the educational process. It is important that they should be able to complement one another, solving problems of different aspects of learning, being implemented in different types of activities. For example, the practices of developmental learning and the reflexive-activity approach are focused on different didactic units but arranged on common bases and values: they are quite compatible and can be used in one educational process (Zaretsky et al., 2020). The principle of development-oriented approach to evaluation. We consider the “processual” approach to evaluating the effectiveness of the educational process to be an important methodological principle. Since the key idea, i.e., the meaning of the educational process is the development of each of its participants, the evaluation of the effectiveness of this process should show whether development is taking place, what is its essence and which processes contribute to it to the maximum extent. It is impossible to give a final evaluation of development as a whole, we can evaluate the process of forming the position of agency of all the participants of the educational process, including school students, teachers, managers, parents (change in the level of activity, independence, proactivity, consciousness and responsibility), the process of forming collaborative relationships (participants’ readiness to plot joint intents, to construct joint activities). We can, relying on the multidimensional principle, focus on some vectors and analyze the changes taking place in these directions. We can see how the zone of proximal development is shifted towards what was previously inaccessible to a person, and we can reflect this change, thereby marking the advance along the vector. Also, an important point in building a system for monitoring and evaluating the educational process is participation, i.e., inclusion of all its participants in the creation of the evaluation system. A new type of school as an anthropological practice Comprehending the theoretical-methodological bases of our concept of the school in the context of the crisis of the school as a social institution, we regard it as an anthropological practice of creating and supporting a child-adult community. F.Ye. Vasilyuk formulated a number of questions, the answers to which, in complexity and unity, determine the structure of anthropological practice (Vasilyuk, 2015, Vasilyuk, 2007) (Table). Let us now try to outline the answers to these questions, summarizing our basic attitudes and principles. Table Structure of anthropological practice Supreme goal and value Infinite development Ontology and subject matter Life-world of the school, conditions for personal development in the life-world of the school Problematic state Lack of development, stagnation Productive process Development of the position of agency Principle of professional activity Collaboration Methods Participatory design, reflective-activity approach, developmental learning The supreme goal and value of practice. If for pedagogy as a practice in the age of modernity the category of knowledge was the supreme goal, then we can designate the supreme goal and value of our school project as infinite development, generalizing the idea of multidimensional nature and continuity of development. It is important to emphasize that it is the supreme goal that stands out here, since the system of goals of practice is complex and multi-level. Problematic state. Opposite of the supreme goal and value is the category of problem states of human existence - these practices are aimed at overcoming them. We can define our vision of the problem state as stagnation, i.e., lack of development. Ontology and subject matter. F.Ye. Vasilyuk introduces the concept of basic ontological picture, which is put at the foundation of specific theories and serves to form the subject matter of the corresponding practices. For example, traditional education, to describe its ontology, often uses the category of abilities (to learn, to perform specific activities, etc.), which are the subject of the teacher’s efforts. Defining the basic ontological picture of our educational practice, we can call it the life-world of the school. The substantiation of the concept of ‘life-world of the school’ deserves special research. For now, let us just note that this concept has a solid philosophical and psychological tradition of development. According to the development of this tradition in the cultural-historical and activity-based paradigm (Vasilyuk, 2007; Leontiev, 1997), the methodological role of the concept of lifeworld is to overcome the problem of dividing the participants into subjects and objects of influence, to emphasize the integrity and interdependence of all aspects of life (school life in our case) set by common activity: from architectural-spatial solutions to a variety of educational forms and processes. This is, paraphrasing F.Ye. Vasilyuk (2007. P. 217), the entire space-time volume of ‘school reality’ that ‘embraces’ the agents of the school. Thus, the conditions for personal development in the life-world of the school constitute the subject matter of our practice, which applies to the personality of all the agents of this practice: students, teachers and accompanying specialists. Productive process. The key characteristic of anthropological practice is the idea of a productive process that leads to the desired changes, overcoming problem situations and, ideally, achieving the supreme goal. “Anthropological practices for the most part are arranged in such a way that it is not the agent of the practice, whether it be a teacher, priest, or educator, who ultimately makes the necessary changes. Without the activity of the person to whom these practices are directed, they cannot be accomplished... Due to this synergistic nature of anthropological practice, its key element is specific human activity, at the development and maintenance of which the practice, in fact, is aimed, i.e., a productive process” (Vasilyuk, 2007. P. 226). We consider the formation of the position of agency in the context of collaboration as the main productive process, towards the initiation and support of which our efforts will be directed. The principle of activity and methods. We can distinguish characteristics that describe the actual activity of the agents of the practices. As part of this activity, specialists use certain methods that have proven their effectiveness and create new ones. The life-world of the school exists as a space of joint activity, collaboration of all its actors. We define collaboration as the main principle of activity of all the agents of our practice. As specific methods that implement this principle, we can name the reflexive-activity approach, participatory design and developmental learning. In our view, the implementation of these methods contributes to the initiation, development and support of the position of agency of all the participants, the key components of which are proactivity, consciousness and responsibility. The development of agency in the context of collaboration overcomes the problematic state of ‘non-development’ and ideally leads to ‘infinite development’. Conclusion From our point of view, the key changes that can contribute to the exit of the modern school from the crisis should address, first of all, the basic principles of organizing school processes. They should model new forms, methods, and focuses of interaction between people. Changes in the form and content of education will only be a logical continuation. Domestic pedagogy already has a rich experience in relying on the provisions of cultural-historical psychology and the activity approach; there are educational practices and schools based on them, such as the school of developmental education, pedagogy of collaboration and others. It is important for us to continue and develop this existing pedagogical tradition. At the same time, in modern conditions, when the school is faced with serious challenges, we are expanding the context of their application, setting the task of consistently implementing the provisions of cultural-historical and activity psychology with the maximum manifestation of their humanistic meaning in all areas of the school life in order to create a holistic life-world of the school as a space for the development of all its participants, as a model of a horizontally built community. The article describes the methodological principles that we formulated based on the key concepts of cultural-historical and activity psychology, which reflect our ideas about school as a developmental space. Understanding the school as a holistic anthropological practice, we rely on the principles we have formulated in order to implement them not only in educational activities as such but to make them the basis for forming the unity of values and meanings, the culture of the school as a child-adult community, as a collective agent. These principles and the view of the school as an anthropological practice create a conceptual framework for the experimental model of the school and allow us to proceed to the development of its working concept and to the description of key school processes. We still have to clarify, concretize and supplement the developed concept in the course of implementing the intent to create the educational space of the new school. To date, we have already initiated the process of participatory school design, made the first experimental step in a virtual format (the Virtual Own School project [9]) and formed a community of like-minded people - students, parents, teachers, psychologists working on the project. The most temporally proximate experimental sites will be the virtual educational space “Own lesson” and the summer school “Own summer”, where educational tools will be tested, their relevance to the formulated principles will be evaluated and the conceptual model of the new school will be clarified.


About the authors

Viktor K. Zaretsky

Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

Author for correspondence.

PhD in Psychology, is Professor at Individual and Group Psychotherapy Department of the Faculty of Counseling and Clinical Psychology

29 Sretenka St, Moscow, 127051, Russian Federation

Yury V. Zaretsky

Moscow State University of Psychology and Education


PhD in Psychology, is Associate Professor at Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy Departmen of the Faculty of Clinical and Counseling Psychology

29 Sretenka St, Moscow, 127051, Russian Federation

Tatiana D. Karyagina

Moscow State University of Psychology and Education; Psychological Institute of Russian Academy of Education


Psychology, is Senior Researcher at Laboratory of Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy of the Psychological Institute of Russian Academy of Education, and Associate Professor at Individual and Group Psychotherapy Department of the Faculty of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Head of the Master’s Program on Counseling Psychology of the Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

29 Sretenka St, Moscow, 127051, Russian Federation; 9 Mokhovaya St, bldg 4, Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation

Oksana S. Ostroverkh

Siberian Federal University


PhD in Psychology, is Associate Professor at Human Resource Psychology and Management Department of the Institute of Economics, Management and Environmental Studies

79 Svobodniy Ave, Krasnoyarsk, 660041, Russian Federation

Anna V. Tikhomirova

Moscow State University of Psychology and Education


Lecturer of the Department of Individual and Group Psychotherapy Department of the Faculty of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Leading Analyst of the Center for Evidence-Based Social Design

29 Sretenka St, Moscow, 127051, Russian Federation

Elena Yu. Fedorenko

Moscow School of Social and Economic Science


PhD in Psychology, is Dean of the Faculty of Management in Education

82 Vernadskogo Ave, Moscow, 119571, Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2021 Zaretsky V.K., Zaretsky Y.V., Karyagina T.D., Ostroverkh O.S., Tikhomirova A.V., Fedorenko E.Y.

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