Cognitive development is interpreted as the gradual orderly development of thinking, understanding and reasoning processes from birth to maturity. The aim of primary school is to build the knowledge and the skills children need to have for further cognitive development. Therefore, the constant development of coginition is very important to young children, because it gives them the basic understanding towards themselves and the world. As a result, in order to assist and support children’s early cognitive development, teachers apply the ideas of educational theorists such as Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky in teaching.
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Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky are two of the most influential theorists of cognitive development. The ‘Stage-based theory of cognitive development’ from Jean Piaget explores the sequential development of thinking process through a series of stages include sensorimotor stage for births to age 2, preoperational stage for age 2 to 7, concrete operational stage for age 7 to 12 and formal operational stage for above age 12. Moreover, Piaget (1972) establishes the concept of schemes, which are the basic and abstract building blocks of thinking. People go through adaptations and equilibrations to create new schemes, extend knowledge and gain more organized thinking process. Nevertheless, one of main concern about Piaget’s theory is Piaget’s underestimation towards the cognitive abilities of young children, Evan (1991) states preschool children have more knowledge towards number than Piaget thoughts.
Unlike Piaget,Vygotsky’s ‘Sociocultural theory’ concentrates more about the effect of social interaction and cultural tools towards children’s cognitive development. Vygotsky (1980) assumes the social interactions means learning with others and inside, moreover, he thinks effective learning occur with the assistances of more mature learners. In addition, Vygotsky refers real tools and symbol systems as cultural tools, they support child’s thinking and understanding towards the physical and social worlds (Evans,1991). However, Krause, Bochner and Duchesne (2006) states that Vygotsky overemphasizes the importance of language instead explain the role of physical maturation to cognitive developments in details. Despite the limitations, Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories are the great references towards children’s cognitive development as shown in the case study below.
In the case study A, it mentions the learning centers change frequently, so everytime Anna changes the activities of learning centers, children may face something strange, therefore according to Piaget’s theory, the disequilibration has formed. Once children find solutions to solve the disequilibration, the new scheme formed, which effectively extends children’s knowledge. Moreover, in learning centers, Troy works on the task which involves very high numbers by using calculator, the number systems and calculator are seen as the cultural tools in Vygotsky’s theory, which consolidates children’s knowledge. These examples indicate Anna is familiar with both Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories.
Secondly, Anna’s learning center is very appropriate for children’s cognitive development. In the learning centers, children like Katy take initiative and develop their learning skills according to their own interests, this allows the study processes occur in a higher efficiency and also accelerate their cognitive development. Moreover, children have more freedom to explore knowledge and challenge themselves collaboratively or individually, for example, for children who work collaboratively like the children in mathematical center, their knowledge have developed along with their thinking processes and social skills through discovery and discussion.
Then, through different activities, children gain varies cognitive skills. In tinker center, children’s logical thinking and...