Institute pedagogical director Carrie Lobman was a recent keynote speaker at the International Conference on Cultural-Historical Theory and Human Development: Key Issues for School Education, at the Universidade Estadual Paulista in Marilia, Brazil, and organized by the University’s Association of Marxist Educators.
How can socio-cultural theory inform practices that will allow children from poor families to have the tools they need to navigate the world…and to resist and fight against economic oppression?
This was the impassioned query for many of the 450 conference participants — graduate students in education and practitioners.
Along with Lobman, the program featured keynote presentations by activity theoretic, Marxist and cultural-historcial psychologists Malcolm Reed (University of Bristol) and Mohamed Elhammoumi (Saud Islamic University).
Education reformers from across the state of São Paulo discussed how to utilize socio-cultural theory and the work of Marxist developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky to develop more effective and liberatory practices in public schools. Discussion addressed the practical/political implications of Vygotsky’s approach for creating a critical pedagogy for the millions of Brazilian school children from poor and working class families. Vygotsky’s idea of young people “performing a head taller,” sparked much interest, and Lobman in her talk, Three Dialectics of Social Therapeutic Learning Environments, relayed ways that we at the Institute and performance activists worldwide are using play and performance to create social, collective zones of proximal development.