Cultural-historical theory and educational practice: Some radical-local considerations

Seth Chaiklin, Mariane Hedegaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We emphasize that pedagogical practice was not just a way of validating and testing scientific findings but it has also, to generate new hypotheses and new challenges and research directions. This relationship between research, knowledge, and practice was recognised from the beginning days of the cultural-historical tradition, such as Vygotsky’s focus on practice for resolving the crisis in psychology. In a dialectical conception, pedagogical research should be developed as an interaction between theoretical conceptions in the cultural-historical tradition and the demands and needs of the societal practices. This article illustrates this idea concretely, using the idea of radical-local teaching and learning (HEDEGAARD; CHAIKLIN, 2005). The discussion starts with a brief comment about the dialectical tradition; than we illustrate one way to engage with the idea of full human development, viewing this in terms of personality development. We first explain the general idea of radical-local teaching and learning as a way to address the practical problem, and then show how it embodies the philosophical concerns of the dialectical tradition. The main idea is that core conceptual relations within subject-matter areas have to be related specifically to children’s life situation so that this academic knowledge can become integrated with local knowledge, thereby qualitatively transforming children’s everyday concepts and their possibility to use this knowledge in their local practice. We want to highlight the idea of how working with subject-matter content in a radical-local perspective can provide conditions for children to develop theoretical thinking and motive orientation, which is relevant to personality development, and which can be oriented to their full human development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-44
JournalNUANCES: Estudos sobre Educação
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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