Vygotsky

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Vygotsky & Cognitive Development

Vygotsky believes that young children are curious and actively involved in their own learning and the discovery and development of new understandings/schema.  Vygotsky placed more emphasis on social contributions to the process of development, whereas Piaget emphasized self-initiated discovery. 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 an instruction provided by the tutor (often the parent or teacher) then internalizes the information, using it to guide or regulate their own performance. Shaffer gives the example of a young girl who is given her first jigsaw.  Alone, she performs poorly in attempting to solve the puzzle. The father then sits with her and describes or demonstrates some basic strategies, such as finding all the corner/edge pieces and provides a couple of pieces for the child to put together herself and offers encouragement when she does so.  As the child becomes more competent, the father allows the child to work more independently.  According to Vygotsky, this type of social interaction involving co-operative or collaborative dialogue promotes cognitive development. In order to gain an understanding of Vygotsky's theories on cognitive development, one must understand two of the main principles of Vygotsky's work: the More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) and the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The more knowledgeable other (MKO) is somewhat self-explanatory; it refers to someone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept.  Although the implication is that the MKO is a teacher or an older adult, this is not necessarily the case.  Many times, a child's peers or...
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