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Psicologia USP

Print version ISSN 0103-6564

Psicol. USP vol.23 no.1 São Paulo Jan./Mar. 2012 



Historical-cultural contributions of Psychology to the psychologist's professional training and practice in the context of inclusive education


Contribuições da psicologia histórico-cultural para a formação e atuação do psicólogo em contexto de educação inclusiva


Quelques contributions de la psychologie historique-culturelle pour la formation et la pratique du psychologue dans le contexte de l'éducation inclusive


Contribuciones de la psicología histórico-cultural para la formación y actuación del psicólogo en contexto de educación inclusiva



Sonia Mari Shima BarrocoI; Marilene Proença Rebello de SouzaII

I State University of Maringá
II University of São Paulo - USP




In this article we discuss some contributions of Historical-Cultural Psychology to the education of psychologists who exercise their practice in the area of Inclusive Education. We focus on the principles and the foundations for a social education to handicapped people, as well as the postulates of L.S. Vigotski's theory on education and on the practices of the psychologists. The main principles of Vigostski's theory are: to consider the transience of events and facts; to relate objective life and social practice to the world of the mind, values and representations; to show the relationship between the educational proposals and a specific social project; to defend the possibility of discovering a social constitution of the psychological aspects of the mind and the possibilities of intervention in these aspects; to defend a human development based on the principles of man' s culture and freedom. Finally, we argue that Inclusive Education refers to an appropriation process and to the possibility of using the complexity of human production in different areas of life and knowledge.

Keywords: Historic-cultural psychology. Psychologist’s training. School psychology. Inclusive education. Social education.


Este texto objetiva discutir contribuições da Psicologia Histórico-Cultural para a formação e a atuação do psicólogo junto à educação, num contexto de Educação Inclusiva. Destacam-se os fundamentos e princípios da educação para pessoas com deficiência, bem como postulados da teoria de Vigotski referentes à formação e à atuação dos psicólogos. Considera-se que a perspectiva teórica elaborada pelo autor soviético contribui por: destacar a transitoriedade dos eventos e fenômenos; atrelar o mundo das ideias, valores e representações à vida objetiva e à prática social; relacionar propostas educacionais a um dado projeto de sociedade; defender a possibilidade do desvendamento da constituição social do psiquismo e da possível intervenção sobre a mesma; requisitar uma condição de desenvolvimento humano sobre o patamar do homem cultural e livre. Por fim, destaca-se o fato de que a Educação Inclusiva deve se referir ao processo de apropriação e usufruto das produções humanas mais complexas, elaboradas nas diferentes áreas da vida e do conhecimento.

Palavras-chave: Psicologia histórico-cultural. Formação do psicólogo. Psicologia escolar. Educação inclusiva. Educação social.


Ce texte a pour objectif de discuter les contributions de la Psychologie Historique-Culturelle pour la formation et la pratique du psychologue dans l'éducation, dans un contexte d'Éducation Inclusive. Dans cette étude, son repassés les fondements et les principes de l'éducation sociale pour des personnes avec insuffisance, ainsi que les postulats de la théorie de Vigotski concernant la formation et la performance des psychologues. Les principaux aspects de la perspective théorique élaborée par l'auteur soviétique contribuent par: détacher la transitivité des événements et des phénomènes ; atteler le monde des idées, des valeurs et des représentations à la vie objective et à la pratique sociale; rapporter des propositions scolaires à un projet de société donné; défendre la possibilité de développement de la constitution sociale de la psyché et de la possible intervention sur la même; demander une condition de développement humain sur la plateformes de l'homme culturel et libre. Finalement, il demande que l'Éducation Inclusive doit se rapporter à un processus d'appropriation et d'usufruit des productions humaines plus complexes, élaborées dans différents secteurs de la vie et de la connaissance.

Mots-clés: Psychologie historique-culturel. Formation et performance du psychologue. Psychologie scolaire. Éducation inclusive. Éducation social.


Este texto objetiva discutir contribuciones de la Psicología Histórico-Cultural para la formación y la actuación del psicólogo junto a la educación, en un contexto de Educación Inclusiva. Se destacan los fundamentos y principios de la educación para personas con deficiencia, así como postulados de la teoría de Vigotski referentes a la formación y a la actuación de los psicólogos. Se considera que la perspectiva teórica elaborada por el autor soviético contribui por: destacar la transitoriedad de los eventos y fenómenos; atrelar el mundo de las ideas, valores y representaciones a la vida objetiva y a la práctica social; relacionar propuestas educacionales a un determinado proyecto de sociedad; defender la posibilidad del desvendamiento de la constitución social del psiquismo y de la posible intervención sobre la misma; requisitar una condición de desarrollo humano sobre el patamar del hombre cultural y libre. Por fin, se destaca el hecho de que la Educación Inclusiva debe se referir al proceso de apropiación y usufructo de las producciones humanas más complejas, elaboradas en las diferentes áreas de la vida y del conocimiento.

Palabras clave: Psicología Histórico-Cultural. Formación del psicólogo. Psicología escolar. Educación Inclusiva. Educación social.



This article results from a research in the existing literature in Historic-cultural psychology (2007-2008). Its main focus is to discuss the implications of historical-cultural Psychology in the professional training and practice of the school psychologist in Brazil. We take into account the favorable context of an Inclusive Education in the society appearing and spreading out under capitalism.

We understand that the trajectories of the Brazilian education and of the history of the participation of Psychology itself at it, shall contribute to school success.

These are far from being a general reality in the XXIst century, if we consider, for example, general data issued by the Basic Education Development Index – IDEB (Brazil, 2010a)1.

Data show an improvement in education in the period 2005-2009. Nevertheless, considering the average in a classroom in a scale from 0 to 10, it is possible to identify how much is still necessary to turn over for a good quality education, according to Table.



The ways leading to quality learning outcomes must be built upon educational public policies which are compromised to investing resources both in the physical and functional structuring of the National Learning System. This system should offer teachers carrier plans which allow dignity to the category, but, above all, which give the teachers and other related professionals a solid training.

The growing accessibility to Basic Education requires that it takes place together with the real attainment of the systematized scientific knowledge. This appropriation is of our interest as it launches the development of superior psychological functions in the students.

It is also necessary that the basic training courses (graduation) of these professional categories reconsider context analysis where both society and educational system are insert and that they propose new models. Once this challenge is acknowledged, some remarks about the training and the practice of the school/educational psychologist will be exposed.


Some aspects of training and practice of the school/educational psychologist

About training and practice of practitioners in the Psychological field in Brazil, some works have been carried out, such as Mello (1975), Achcar, Duran and Bastos (1994) and Bastos and Gondim (2010), which made a mapping and some analysis about the subject.

When it comes to training, in 07/2010, we identified 377 Higher Education Establishments delivering registered Psychology courses in Brazil (Brazil, 2010b). All of them turn around Resolution n. 8, from 7/05/2004 (Brazil, 2004), which constitutes the National Curriculum Guidelines for Psychology Graduation courses. Even though we do not know the total number of students enrolled, this quantity of courses requires a great attention to its theoretical methodological fundamentals as well as to the directions of this field of studies.

Guidelines (Brazil, 2004 p6) “consist of the orientations about principles, foundations, conditions to offer and proceeding for the planning, the implementation and the evaluation of the course”. The Guidelines, reveal that the main goal of the undergraduate course in Psychology is the training of the academic scholar for insertion in the professional practice, for scientific research and for teaching, by ensuring the following principles and obligations:

a) Construction and development of the scientific knowledge in Psychology;
b) Comprehension of the multiple referential which aims to apprehend the amplitude of the psychological phenomenon on its interfaces with socio-biological phenomena;
c) Recognition of the diversity of perspectives required for the comprehension of the human being and stimulus to dialogue in different areas of knowledge allowing apprehension of the complexity and the over-determination of the psychological phenomenon;
d) Critical comprehension of the social, economic, cultural and political phenomena of the country, which are essential to the exercise of the citizenship and of the profession;
e) Performance in different contexts considering social necessities, human rights, by taking into account the promotion of the quality of life, for individuals, groups, organizations and communities;
f) Respect to ethics in the relationship with customers and clients, colleagues, public and in producing and diffusing research, works and information in the branch of Psychology;
g) Continuous improvement by capacitating professionals (Brazil, 2004, p. 6, our italics).
It is settled down in this instructing document that the training aims at endowing the professional with the required knowledge to the exercise of the general competencies and abilities. Curriculum propositions shall, thus, articulate knowledge, abilities and competencies by observing some structuring axes related to the epistemological and theoretical-methodological fundamentals to the professional procedures and practices.

It is expected that the ex-students of Psychology courses which have had their academic training based upon the Guidelines can practice in the fields of research, teaching and in psychological services and practices, being hired by public and private education networks. When turning themselves to the field of education, it is possible they may directly respond to teachers, pupils, families, pedagogical teams and directions; they may also cooperate in planning and in coordinating proposals and educational projects. Thus, if we consider what is exposed in this document, as well as the amplitude and the evolution which that practice such psychologist may have in society, our attention and care for the direction of this science and profession shall increase.

In addition to this, by calling the attention to the Guidelines, which have been subject to studies at the Brazilian Association of Psychology Learning (ABED), one should remind what has been described regarding the psychologist as a professional. In 1992, the Federal Council of Psychology (CFP) drew up descriptions of the psychologist´s professional attributions, in general and in the different areas of practicing, in cooperation to the Brazilian Catalog of Professions (CBO)2 from 1994.

One proceeds to the study and the analysis of impersonality processes and interpersonal relationships, enabling the understanding of the human behavior, individually or in groups, in a multiple context of institutions, wherever these relationships find place. He/she applies theoretical and technical knowledge of psychology aiming to identify the main factors that determine the actions of the subjects and intervene in them, in their own personal experience, familiar and social, also binding them to the political, historical and cultural conditions. Within the features of the profession, the psychologist acts in the sphere of education, health, leisure, labor, security, justice, communities and communication aiming in their work to promote respect to the dignity and the integrity of the human being (p. 1).

Some descriptions of the CFP treat different areas of intervention of Psychologists. For the Educational Psychologist, it states that:

He/she practices in the sphere of education, in formal and informal institutions. The professional cooperates to the comprehension and behavior changing of educators and learners, in the teaching-learning process, in the interpersonal relationships and in interpersonal processes always referring to political, economical, social and cultural dimensions. The professional carries out research, diagnosis and psycho-pedagogical intervention, individually or in groups. Also he/she contributes to the preparation of the Educational System plans and politics, aiming to promote quality, add value and democratize education (National Council of Psychology, 1992, p. 5).

Although some changes have occurred, one occupation of the psychologist in the educational sphere can already be seen under a critical perspective, according to what has been described above. Later on, BCO was reviewed and new occupational descriptions were set up with the cooperation of some universities and organisms/institutions. Named as Brazilian Classification of Occupations, in November 2007, we noticed that the entry Psychologists appeared altogether with the entry Psychoanalysts and, as a general description of the occupation presented the following text:

They study, conduct research and evaluate the emotional development and the mental and social processes of individuals, groups and institutions, with the purpose of analysis, treatment, orientation and education; they prognosticate and evaluate emotional and mental disturbances and of social adaptation, elucidating conflicts and cases and following the patient(s) during the treatment or healing process, they investigate the unconscious factors of the individual behavior and the ones of the group, bringing them to consciousness; they develop experimental, theoretical and clinical research and coordinate teams and activities and related areas (Brazil, 2002a, p.1)

In this description (Brazil, 2002a) we also found an indication of different fields of intervention (Clinical Psychologist, educational/school, juridical, social, labor/organizational etc). If one compares this text to the descriptions of the Federal Council of Psychology (1992), a wider comprehension of the profession stands out in the latter. No clinical conception prevails here for the definition, the conceptualization and the identification of the profession as a whole.

By consulting the updates of the Brazilian Classification of Occupations (Brazil, 2002b), for the term Psychologist, we found entry 2525: Psychologists and Psychoanalysts, with several sub-items, united by this last definition we mentioned. If there isn´t a straight connection with the Psychoanalysis anymore (Brazil, 2002a), and even by recognizing the different areas of practice of the psychologist in the sub-items, there is still a notorious clinical rancidity, in the sense that this professional turns himself to the non-integer, to the non-common, the non-expected, to the individual sphere and the sphere of the group. If we don´t get over this understanding, production of school failure will be tremendous and devastating, even though it will be encouraged by the discourse of “a school for all”.

The descriptions mentioned above are of our great concern because all along its history, Psychology turned to the educational/school field, issued a certain theoretical body and a certain theoretical form of intervention which at the end reinforced a biologized or medicalized comprehension of the constitution and the development of human psyche and, consequently, of the reasons leading to non-learning. Criticism to such psychology have already been made by different authors, such as Patto (1987, 1990), Boarini (1993), Souza (1997, 2000), Bock (1999), Tanamachi (2000), Meira (2000), Meira e Antunes (2003), Barroco (2007a, 2007b), and others, besides Vygotski, himself (1927/1997).

If we interpret these IDEB (Brasil, 2010a) data, under this critical understanding, and with the aid of the 2002 CBO reports (Brasil, 2002a, 2002b), we conclude easily that the negative average rate of the Brazilian education may be due to individual problems shown by the pupils. On the other hand, it would be hard to justify such rate by this manner now that the estimate of failure is so high that a social contagion of problems of the pupils could be supposed (neurological, affective, organic, familiar). Thus, as this picture isn´t plausibly sustainable, it requires other explanations for this rate in an inclusive education context. Due to the large scope that such an analysis offers us, we shall restrain to the purpose of pointing out aspects that concern the training and the practicing of the school/educational psychologist.

Regarding what has been exposed in the Guidelines BCOs and the IDEB data, we considered necessary to stress out the contributions of the Historical-Cultural Psychology to the training and practicing of the school/educational psychologists, as this theory supports the possibility that learning conducts the development of regular conscience and behavior, which is essential in the context of defense of society and inclusive education and also when we wish the exercise of psychology under a critical perspective.

The defense of society and inclusive education concentrates on the respect of the differences that races, socio-economic levels, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, age, handicaps or special educational needs raise when searching a more dignified life for everybody. The inclusive education proposal requires, among other things, that ordinary schools get prepared to receive “different individuals”, pleading a more equal education, as sustain Mantoan (1997); The Salamanca Declaration (Brazil, 1997); Stainback and Stainbak (1999); Mittler (2003), among other authors and documents.

We consider legitimate the struggle for observing and respecting the condition that the handicap state and a different development impose, which have motivated important action from branches and organizations, especially when it comes to physical and architectural accessibility. However, we consider that inclusion principles become hard to be respected and their goals hard to be reached without any changes on the structural basis of the society of antagonist social classes.

We claim that prejudice, stigma, practice of exclusion etc, do not appear on people´s minds only because one may have an incorrect opinion about life and men, or because one wants to cultivate them. Rather, what is inside the human´s minds is, already, outside them; or better. before those contents enter the intrapsychique, before they are internalized, they are already present in social practice, settled in the objective conditions of life. This understanding is based on what the histories of education and psychology reveal: to each period and society corresponds, a certain type of man, a certain type of education, a certain ensemble of values and representations, a certain form of explanation and intervention.

We can thus consider that, without surmounting the conditions of capitalism which generates the neoliberal ideology, the mentality change claimed by the principles and goals of the inclusive education will not be possible in a wide and whole manner.


Recognizing exclusion as figure and background to the psychologist´s training and practice

In view of the context pointed out above, training and practice of the school/educational psychologist require going beyond appearance of phenomena and facts. The scientific reasoning for the revealing of the non-apparent must be practiced. That implies we need a comprehension of the social and educational contexts of the moment so that the object of school/educational psychology and the theoretical-methodological ways can be delimited.

As we have already pointed out, if much has been said about inclusion in the last years, this may probably be due to the fact that our society and our schooling are rooted in the excluded process:

What does exclusion mean and who are the excluded ones? According to what can be observed in speeches and publications, excluded are landless people, elderly, homeless, jobless, HIV patients, people with disabilities, segregated by race, color, belief, sexual option. It is important to stress out that each one of these groups, among others which are not mentioned here, have risen their flags, fighting for their rights, ensuring their inclusion in society. Contradictorily and understandably, the rights of the ones may get in conflict with the rights of the others. (Barroco, 2007b, p. 164)

Oliveira (2004) explains that because it is widely used by almost everybody to refer to almost everything without the necessary precision, the term exclusion lacks conceptual strictness and pays the price for its non definition. Based on Karl Marx, Oliveira disagrees with other authors. Oliveira (2004) emphasizes Touraine who defends the idea that in the post-industrial society it would make no sense to talk about social classes; even less about capitalists and laborers as antagonist classes since its time reveals itself by a central and integrating machine which keeps under its control not only a labor class but also a silent majority projecting around a certain number of excluded, closed, under privileged and even denied minorities (p. 18, author´s italics ). Through this author, we leave the up/down reference obtained by the recognized idea of the existence of antagonistic classes, vertically structured, people situated in higher or lower socio-economic levels. Reference becomes in/out or the recognition of differences from the paradigm center/suburb. In this conception of horizontal structuring of society, the more an individual occupies a central position, the more he is positively appreciated. Such understanding enables us to work with the concepts in/out, included/excluded.

Oliveira (2004) opposes Touraine´s idea and questions: “The 'In' are 'in what'?” (p. 19). He questions if those who are 'in' are included in level playing field, if the aimed social integration3 could be a form of subordinate inclusion. We think one should not lose track of these questions as they have to do with the psychologist that will practice or already is practicing a defense of an inclusive education. Exclusion is not only background, but figure, as it orientates social constitution of psychos.

Although Marx referred to a certain moment of crisis in Capitalism, which was confronted to another phase of industrialization, the core of that society he analyzed is the same of the present one, that is, it is guided by the capitalist logic of accumulation. We can say, altogether, Marx´s work explicates and explains the consequences of this logic. L. S. Vygotsky (1930/2004) alerts about its balance in forming personality: it does not allow the full development of man.

According to these theoreticians, it was through the vital laboring activity and through language resulting from it, that men could humanize, develop psychos aligned on conscience. Nowadays, based upon these two authors, it is possible to say that this logic of the capitalistic society hasn´t even allowed men to properly know the objective world and to be aware of their relations with it, as it hasn´t explained how and why people act in a certain way, or think, feel, show interests and desires and, mainly, where they take their origins.

Therefore, we argue that the following remark is very important to the psychologist´s education and practice: at the same time that capital has the power to create innovations and wonders in a desert world, conquering lands and minds, creating unbelievable sceneries destined to a small group of people, at the same time and consequently it generates extreme poverty sceneries, which reveal a power to deform. Under the logic of Capitalism in crisis, the real and concrete deformation of man in his social relations is present when subtracting and subduing the vital activity. Labor, which is essential for humanization of men, also becomes a factor of exclusion when it remains the only form of expression of the activity, annihilating all the other forms which would allow a process of full development of the human being.

By this way, in opposition to what can apparently be taken, only inclusion in the world of labour does not necessarily represent the end of exclusion. By establishing a parallel, we claim that being at school does not mean being included or taking possession of human conquests, going to school does not necessarily lead to school education and to the development of potentialities, as already revealed by the mentioned school statistics.

Thus, we can neither talk about inclusion by disconnecting social practices from the economic basis, nor get stuck to this one as if it were enough. Rather we noticed that it is of fundamental importance that training and practice of psychologists be traversed by the possibility of critic analysis, for a proper understanding of the Guidelines, the IDEB data and other guiding documents for education. The analysis we refer to shall also subsidize the psychologist for the understanding that the constitution of human psyche in general and in particular, with or without disabilities, occurs in close relation to the socio-historical context to which one belongs. One also has to consider that the biography of the private man carries the marks of his time and, for this reason, must apprehend human life under ways that explicit and explain its multiple determinations.

We believe that this dialectical way of conceiving and apprehending human life in straight relation to its social historical conditions may be essential to understanding and the subjects and the institutions of a certain society. Subjects and institutions, in this case, gain content and form in the educational proposals. Under this perspective, the theoretical methodological instrumentalization of the educational/school psychologist must seek the historicity of human life. This becomes fundamental in order to deal with people teaching and learning, and to intervene into their developments. In this sense, instrumentalization really will be fighting for an inclusive education and psychology.


School/educational psychology and defense of schooling under capitalism in crisis: looking for the non-corruption of personality

For the psychologist to work in education he/she must understand the social constitution of the psyche and the importance of school in shaping the personality of the learner. This will give him/her directions to intervene at schools and higher spheres of Education and, in this sense, Vigotski´s work reveals to be essential.

According to Vygotski (1927/1997), many psychologists of his period intended to derivate social behavior from individual behavior, for instance, they investigated individual behavior in laboratory situation, very often by taking animal behavior as a referential. Thus, changes in individual responses were studied, for example, in a collective context. Vigotski considers that this approach could be legitimate under a genetic perspective; that was the point of a second level of behavioral development. The first level would be to explain how an individual response appears from collective forms of life.

One of the main characteristics of Vigotski´s work was to insist that scientific research doesn´t remain in the sphere of sophisticated speculation or attached to laboratory models, completely separated from real world. He made great efforts to formulate a new type of psychology turned to human existence core trouble, experienced at school, at work, at the cabinet.

VVigotski produces the major part of his work in the years 1920s and 1930s, when Russia, and later the Soviet Union, was undergoing the development of Communism. There was a call for the production as economic context, in order to restore what First World War, the previous uprisings and the 1917 Revolutions had destroyed, with the aim to build a new society. In the educational field, a new national learning system was searched in order to stop the alarming rates of illiteracy. On the economics and education there was a notorious fight for a strong collective and for a feeling of belonging to it. Education or instruction did not solely refer to a schooling, but to the social education of the new soviet man (Barroco, 2007a).

According to Barroco (2007a), social education meant social instruction and forming of the germs of the collective and collectivity, of the esteem of socially useful work, of love for this work and the workers executing it. Each person was asked to couple up his/her own personal goals to the collective ones and this was taught since child education until superior studies, and in all social institutions.

In this context, Vigotski´s work also contains the defense of the collective, or of a new human learning and development comprehension, rooted in social environment. His work shows that the course of human development, on the onto-genetic field, reveals that humans do not belong to a biological species anymore, but rather they become humanized, cultural people. At this level are those who make use of contents, instruments, tools and values which allow them to act over the world, less and less instinctive and direct, and, for this reason, more planned, aware, intentional, mediated by psychological instruments (Vygotsky & Luria, 1996). All this transformation process of the individual should be followed by an engagement with the collectivity, with the new society.

In addition to this, the great conceptual change Vigotski presents in the field of human development, his contribution to our days was the discussion on the crisis of Psychology of the period, a crisis which is not completely over. Through his writings, it is possible to affirm that the critical thinking in school/educational Psychology requires revealing what´s apparent, as we have previously noticed, by appropriation of the laws governing the phenomena and facts and of the relations these facts maintain with each others.

This understanding leads us to sustain that school complaints should be seen beyond appearances and that at school the essential is teaching non-everyday contents (coming from sciences, arts, philosophy). They contribute to forming the cultural man in the learner, with the (artificial) development of superior psychological processes proper to him/her. Such contents allow the students to be in the world and discover it by knowing its laws. We consider, thus, that it is up to the psychologist to defend the development of everybody, when referring to the human aspect.

The main contribution that can be given to the education that deals with inclusion lies on the defense of an education of cultural men who are compromised with society, with non-alienated collectivity. For this, psychologist´s education must provide him/her with thenecessary tools so that he/she can practice by establishing relations between: the objective world and subjectivity; civilizing stages and educational proposals; school inclusion and school exclusion. Contents like these allow this professional to be more aware of his/her science and profession as well as of the possibilities of another future for education and society for all individuals, with or without disabilities.

It is important to consider what Vygotsky (1930/2004) points out about the relationship between society and personalities:

The same way that life of a society does not represent a unique and uniform ensemble, and society isn't itself subdivided into different classes, so it is not possible to affirm that human personalities composition represents a homogeneous and uniform ensemble in a certain historical period. Psychology must consider the basic fact that the basic thesis which has just been formulated can only have one straight conclusion: to confirm the class temper, class nature and class distinctions responsible for the formation of the human types. The various internal contradictions found in the different social systems can be found as well in personality types as in human psychology structure in that historical period. (p. 2)

Based upon Marxist philosophy and method, Vygotsky explains that the development of human personality in society under industrial capitalism undergoes a process of corruption:

On one end of society, division between intellectual work and physic work, the separation between the city and the countryside, poverty and the impossibility of a free and complete development of the whole human potential, and, on the other end, idleness and luxury. From all that results that not only the originally unique human type becomes differentiated and fragmented in various types spread out in different social classes and these classes also greatly contrast to each other, but also in corruption and distortion of human personality and its obedience to an unsuitable development unilateral in all these different variations of the human type (Vygotsky, 1930/2004, p. 2, italics of the author)

He reminds us that if there is a work division in society, man who created it is also subdivided. According to Engels (s.d., apud Vygotsky, 1930/2004), “all other physical and spiritual faculties are scarified from the moment only one type of ability is developed” (p. 3). Vygotsky emphasizes that adverse influences are not inherent to the large scale industry, but to the capitalist organization based on exploring huge groups of populations. He explains that mutilation process of human nature is not only inherent to the growing of large scale industry, but to the way capitalist society organizes.

Thus, we sustain that critical education and practicing in school/educational psychology undoubtedly must consider the directions of school education and even the direction of society. Psychologists must deal with contradictions, they must elucidate them for the sake of conscience. Vygotsky (1930/2004) also points out that

The most fundamental and important contradiction in all this social structure consists of the fact that within society, under unabated pressure, there are the growing forces that will destroy it, and are being created the preconditions for its replacement by a new order based on the absence of the exploration of man by man. More than once, Marx shows how work, or large scale industries, do not necessarily lead to human nature mutilation, as would a fellow of Rousseau or Tolstoy suppose. On the contrary, it contains inside infinite possibilities for the development of human per-sonality (p. 5, italics of the author)

If on one hand school education can be an expression and vehicle for all kind of alienation set in society, it can also contain the germs for its surpassing, for the training of completely developed people. When defending socialist society and the training of the new man, Vygotsky (1930/2004) writes:

Education must play a main role in transforming man, on this conscious social train-ing road of new generations, education must be the basis for changing the historical human type. New generations represent the main route history shall follow to create a new kind of man. (p. 7, italics of the author)


Conclusions: an inclusive school makes a mediation between social-historical contents and intra-psychic content

Vygotsky (1930/2004) points out that, according to Marx, if Psychology wanted to become a really relevant science, it had to read the book of the history of industry of material since there is the “concrete incarnation of human psychology” (p. 6), where human potential is exposed. That is, Psychology should deal with the following contradiction: under capitalism, dominance of man over nature and development of his own nature occur at the same time as the process of his degradation and mutilation – term used by Engels - occurs.

In other words, taking Vigotski's argument, we reaffirm that Psychology must defend the full development of all men, overcoming (in the Marxist sense of the term) behaviors based on the biological appliances, on which subjects count with when they are born, by a cultural baggage that is progressively provided by contact with other more experienced subjects of the culture. Biological organs, like vision are thus transformed into cultural organs (Vygotsky & Luria, 1996).

In this sense, the function of school education is in general to re-equip subjects of a certain society with something humanity has already elaborated and which is objectified into infinite material and non-material products. The direction it takes and the intensity of this re-equipment process characterize the formation of individuals as men of a certain period, of a certain culture, society and social class.

School education, under this classical function of leading pupils to appropriated what was already achieved and revealed in scientific knowledge, systematized and staggered according to their importance and complexity, acts directly on their development. By creating opportunities for students to access history and what has been elaborated all along its way we offer outstanding moments for humanity, leading them to higher levels of humanizations. Pupils undergo a transforming process, a metamorphosis through the contents they are taught and through the manner these learning happens. They are instigated to a more sofisticated psychological development, that is, less direct, less stuck and dependent on concrete or material stimuli. Schooling can contribute to change behavior: from a practice of instinctive and immediate reactions with and in the world they switch to a more and more voluntarily and intentionally regulated behavior. By doing so, they become more independent from personal life experience to understand contents and general situations and practice analytic thinking over them.

It is by this course, of appropriation of what has historically been elaborated, contemplated in curricula contents of different matters that in a less intense manner the transformation of extern elements into intern psychological instruments, into tools of thought occurs. When pupils learn, for instance, the logic of a first grade equation, and that they are able to conceive ways to solve an incognita, they are actually learning to exercise their thoughts when some element is not evidenced. By the contents and school mediations, pupils can develop their reasoning upon more systematized bases, practice abstractions and generalizations and also dialectically think on their own lives and the reality they belong to.

In this sense, critical thinking in Psychology turned to Education defends liberation of subjects from the hereditary chains and social determinism, putting personal life stories of teachers and students, with or without disabilities, in relation with the society they belong to and in relation with humane history. This grants them a more conscious condition and, for this reason, offers them prospective ways for development by opposing to blunting, to deformation, to mutilation.

The deformed man, proper to the capitalist society in crisis can be identified by the fact he has lost the referential to the collective, he cannot get a historical dimension of his life and he is left out of human achievements. When loosing reference of his attachment to a certain society, and when ignoring that his own history is only written in relation to the history of this society in particular and the one of people in general, he tends to have narrower and more individualistic solutions for the challenges he has to face.

In general we can say that this is the man, with or without disabilities, that has attended classes in Brazilian schools where “teachers must teach and students must learn”. This is the man who suffers and who brings school complaints to Psychology, without really being aware of them. This prevents them from going much beyond complaints as a lament or a form of defense against the feeling of powerlessness. In Brazil, such as in so many countries, this man, thus, needs to be much more comprehended in his afflictions. It seems to us that this comprehension presents itself as an exception to the rule, and reveals the development of a critical perspective that must contain elements for analysis and opposition to the established situation.

It is necessary to point that, when man creates products to respond to certain necessities – which are also created, he doubles himself. In the created thing, the object. In the thing he produced, the object, his own mind and its own level of complexity at the stage it is, remain expressed. Man becomes aware of himself as a man, as part of a certain historical system and of the world, only when in relation with other men and human productions. In this sense, the struggle for school education is based on the recognition that school education can significantly contribute for the conscience development. This is understood as a superior form of reflection of the objective reality, which is based on an ensemble of psychic processes, necessary to the comprehension of the world and is, thus closely and dialectically related to language.

When Luria (1986) affirms that the word is the cell of language, he/she leads to the idea that word is the cell of conscience and that it is, thus, a product of social development and does not exist outside society. Logical and abstract thinking, proper to man, is connected to verbal language and is beaten by school contents, systematized and scientific. This knowledge (not only itself) as well as the meanings and the senses attained and objectified in and through language, guide the development of superior psychological functions.

Critical thinking in school/educational psychology requires, thus, we get over the mere and out of context description of certain frameworks or situations presented in schools, and that we explain how students get humanized, how they become men of a certain period, a certain culture and social class, how they develop conscience and, above all, how schooling can provide them with a better future. That´s why school can only become inclusive when it develops what is properly human in its learners.

Based on this thought, we argue that training and practicing of the school/educational psychologist in this socio-historical context of defense of the Inclusive Education in a society organized under the logical of exclusion, needs count, among all domains, on:

- the contributions of dialectic logic, which can furnish instruments such as contents and methods, the apprehension and comprehension of the present moment and of the shelter inclusive education gets, as well as the explanation of the social constitution of human psyche, of man´s awareness of himself and of the world;
- History of education, duly articulated with the History of Psychology, since it brings in it the history of educational ideas which have been established during different historical periods and societies and in direct relation to the subjacent conceptions of man, learning and development; records of the challenges that have appeared, of the issues that were taken and of the following development;
- the comprehension that educational legislation is not there for nothing, but consists of an evidence of an alive practice, even if we not always agree with it, we do reproduce it;
- the articulation of science with philosophy and arts, since they are non-daily contents that allow developing psyche to more complex and sophisticated levels;
- recognizing the importance of scientific contents for the development of that what is proper to man, superior psychological functions that, on their turn, subsidize the existence of human conscience;
- Ethical and political compromise with the directions education and society assume.

In the lights of the theory of Vigotski, in times of defense of inclusive education, we can say that training and practicing of the psychologist shall seek the freedom even for man – which implies the comprehension of the multiple relations involving all the human facts and phenomena, surpassing an apparent reading of reality.



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Received: 29/06/2009
Accepted: 19/03/2011



1 IDEB is an indicator measuring quality in education and also a tool which allows Education Ministry to establish biannual goals for each school and each network until 2021, aiming effective results. Through it, local, regional and national, and private scholar chains have determined the quality goals to be reached by them. One expects that, until this date, averages 6,0, 5,5 and 5,2 shall be reached for first and final years of Primary and Secondary School. This takes Brazilian education to the levels of the 20 best scored countries in the world (Brazil, 2010a).
2 Symbol that can refer to different denominations: catalogue, code and classification.
3 Oliveira não faz a distinção entre Integração e Inclusão, como se apresenta no tocante ao histórico da Educação Especial. Does not distinguish Integration from Inclusion, as in Special Education historic.



Sonia Mari Shima Barroco, Professor of the Department of Psychology, State University of Maringá. Mailing address: Colombo Av., 5790, 118th block, Jd. Universitário, Maringá, PR, Brazil. ZIP Code: 87020-900. E-mail:

Marilene Proença Rebello de Souza, Professor of the Institute of Psychology, University of São Paulo. Mailing address: Prof. Mello Moraes Av., 1721, A, room 155, University City, São Paulo, SP, Brazil. ZIP Code: 05508-030. E-mail:

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