Piaget vs Vygotsky

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Piaget vs. Vygotsky: Comparing and Contrasting “Strategies of Cognitive Development” and “Sociocultural Theory of Development”

The Swiss Psychologist, Jean Piaget, and the Russian Psychologist, Lev Vygotsky were both interested in the learning and development, specifically among the children. Their theories show that they are both constructivist in their approach. Both of them believe that cognition is a mental construction; that children learn by fitting new info together with that which they already know. And both believe that there are things that are out of a child’s range of understanding. However, the two differ in their specific and key ideas.

In a nutshell, Piaget believes that development precedes learning, while Vygotsky believes that learning precedes development. For Piaget, children progress through the universal and consecutive stages of cognitive development and that there is no skipping of any of these stages. He emphasizes that no matter how brilliant the child is, if a thing is outside his schema (or understanding), he could never understand that very thing. He also believes that children learn through acting upon their surroundings and their surroundings have nothing to do with their learning process. For him, it is just the child who is discovering. The process of knowledge acquisition in Piaget’s theory is more of dialectics (thesis-antithesis-synthesis). Children learn through forming and re-forming ideas – that is Piaget’s “Adaptation” (assimilation and accommodation). On the other hand, Vygotsky claims that cognitive development emphasizes social interaction; that learning is the internalization of the language and the actions of others. When a child receives help in solving a certain problem, he may be able to utilize better strategies in the future if the same problem arises. For Vygotsky, children learn because of history and symbolisms – of culture. Children, he says, value the inputs of other people around them and of their...
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