Vygotsky saw learning as a cultural and interpersonal process that involves the acquisition of ‘cultural tools’ from others.
Language is, according to Vygotsky, initially used solely for interpersonal communication. When it becomes internalised for the purposes of thought, the social environment is reflected in children's reasoning.
Vygotsky argued that adult tuition was important as it is through contact with more able others that children are able to achieve what would otherwise be beyond them. Such experiences lead them into new levels of reasoning.
Sensitive teaching creates a ‘zone of proximal development’ (ZPD) which can foster cognitive development.
Vygotsky's ideas have been used to teach children with special educational needs, including teaching deaf-blind children how to communicate with others.
Vygotskian-inspired approaches to tuition have been criticised for being too formal and teacher-orientated.