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How Do Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories of Learning and Development Compare Regarding the Influences of Social Interactions in Children Cognitive Development?

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  • September 2011
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Human brain is often described as an amazing, perfect and complex creation that differentiates humans from the other species of the world. Its study has always been a challenge for both natural and humanitarian sciences. A lot of theorizing and scientific researches have been produced to map and explain not only its biological basis but also the complex and dynamic nature of its cognitive function. The dynamic and developing nature of cognition, especially in the critical period of childhood, is nowadays widely recognized and discussed in this essay. Namely it will first attempt to outline some general features of two of the four “grand” theories regarding child development. Regarding closely cognitive development, it will examine and evaluate the sound theories of J. Piaget and L. Vygotsky, prominent figures of constructivism and social constructivism respectively. It will then review some research to explore to what extent social interactions contribute to children’s cognitive development. Interpretations of the findings will be provided to point out common ground and differences between these theories with reference also to other researchers’ work. At the end, consideration about the reasons that led both theorists to articulate their theories and a brief evaluation about their applicability in the educational practice will be presented. J. Piaget through the lens of constructive perspective was the first theorist to acknowledge that children, exactly because they are in a course of development- a fluid and changing condition, have needs quite distinctive from these of adults, as far as the acquisition of knowledge and the way of thinking are concerned. Throughout observations and research works, he resulted into the conclusion that development itself is a constructive process. Children individuals are active agents acting upon a relatively stable, passive and objective environment and they develop by forming personalized perceptions of the surrounding...

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