Myra Barrs gives Harold Rosen Lecture

On March 29th, the respected educator Myra Barrs gave the annual Harold Rosen Memorial Lecture on the subject of her new book on Vygotsky. Myra has been a teacher, a publisher, an LEA English Adviser, and Director of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. She has written extensively about young people’s reading and writing, and about the importance of poetry, literature and drama in their lives. One of her major concerns has been the way students’ work is assessed; for several years she was involved in the development of effective observation-based assessments. Vygotsky was a central focus in her PhD thesis, and she has been thinking, writing and publishing about his work since the 1990s.

Vygotsky is considered one of the most important developmental and educational psychologists of modern times and yet, until comparatively recently, access to his writings has been seriously limited. His work was officially disapproved of throughout the Stalinist period and, when it was eventually published, it was often cut or heavily edited, both in Russian and in English and other languages. In the west his Marxism was ignored or played down. Yet the force of his ideas and the clarity of his thinking about children’s mental development overcame these barriers, and recently we have begun to be able to see his work as a whole, in more authentic versions. Myra Barrs’ new book, Vygotsky the Teacher, sets out to be a companion to his psychology and to provide a map to his work, connecting its different aspects and putting them in the context of his life and his troubled times. In this lecture she discussed the overall argument of her book and highlighted some of the themes in Vygotsky’s work that have not always been foregrounded by other commentators.

You can view the whole lecture below on our Youtube channel.

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