The Work of Lev Vygotsky

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The work of Lev Vygotsky has become the foundation of much research and theory in cognitive development over the past several decades, particularly of what has become known as Social Development Theory. Vygotsky's theories stress the fundamental role of social interaction in the development of cognition. Vygotsky is best known for being an educational psychologist with a socialcultural theory. This theory suggests that social interaction leads to continuous step-by-step changes in children's thought and behavior that can vary greatly from culture to culture. Basically Vygotsky's theory suggests that development depends on interaction with people and the tools that the culture provides to help form their own view of the world. Vygotsky wrote in "Thought and Language" that human mental activity is the result of social learning. Vygotsky argued, "learning is a necessary and universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organized, specifically human psychological function." In other words, social learning tends to precede development. Vygotsky claimed that infants are born with the basic materials and abilities for intellectual development.

Vygotsky believes that young children are curious and actively involved in their own learning and the discovery and development of new understandings/schema. However, Vygotsky placed more emphasis on social contributions to the process of development. According to Vygotsky , much important learning by the child occurs through social interaction with a skillful tutor. The tutor may model behaviors and/or provide verbal instructions for the child. Vygotsky refers to this as co-operative or collaborative dialogue. The child seeks to understand the actions or instructions provided by the tutor (often the parent or teacher) then internalizes the information, using it to guide or regulate their own performance. In order to gain an understanding of Vygotsky's theories on cognitive development, one must understand two of the...
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