Child Development: Two Paradigms



There are two ways of comprehending child development. The first one stresses the cultural essence of man. It regards the child as a human being that has not yet acquired culture and is faced with the task of its acquisition. The important part of culture is the system of norms, including various means and patterns, the so-called ‘ideal forms’. The bearer of these ideal forms and culture is the adult. The zone of proximal development is not for inventing new forms of culture, but for mastering the norms that already exist. Another approach sees the child as an individual with endless, limitless abilities. Thus the task that arises before the adult is to ensure that the child’s potential is fulfilled. This implies reaching out beyond the limits of the zone of proximal development as the abilities are limitless. And that, in turn, implies another space, aimed at new forms of culture which have not yet existed. We have called this the space of child actualization. In this space, the child’s role is the leading one. In its very sense this space is the opposite of the zone of proximal development where the acquisition of the old norms occurs (i.e. the assimilation of the child into culture); on the contrary, the space of actualization is a place where new norms are created, where the adult helps the child to implement the latter’s intentions, and where culture is assimilated into the child.

General Information

Keywords: zone of proximal development, childhood, space of actualization, culture

Journal rubric: Discussions and Discourses

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Veraksa N.E. Child Development: Two Paradigms. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2018. Vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 102–108. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2018140211. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Nikolai E. Veraksa, Doctor of Psychology, professor, Professor, Faculty of Psychology, Department of Educational Psychology and Pedagogical Sciences, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Leading Researcher, Federal Sci­entific Center of Psychological and Multidisciplinary Research, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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