This essay will analyse and explore how teachers can help students to develop intellectually. Significant theories in learning development include Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory (McInerney, 2015). Piaget’s cognitive development theory focuses on structuralism and constructivism and deals with the nature of knowledge and how humans acquire, construct and use it. Vygotsky’s social development theory on the other hand has a strong emphasis on the fundamental role of social interaction in the development of cognition. Both Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories in learning development accompanied by a range of recent journal articles, the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (Nswteachers.nsw.edu.au) and information from McInerney’s Educational Psychology (2015) textbook offer multiple angles and knowledge on how teachers can support students to develop intellectually. Piaget’s theory of cognitive development emphasises structuralism and constructivism in the stages of children’s intellectual development. Jean Piaget was a Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children. Piaget’s theory of cognitive development has duel and complementary perspectives that are termed as constructivism and structuralism (McInerney, 2015). Piaget’s theories have a major impact on the model and practice of education as it has helped create a view where the focus of attention is on the idea of developmentally appropriate education. Piaget has constructed a four stage list of intellectual development based on evidence drawn from his experimental observations and clinical interviews with children. The school transition period from upper primary to early high school as mentioned by Piaget (McInerney) encompasses the concrete-operational stage and the formal-operational stage of intellectual development. In (McInerney) Piaget states that children should be actively engaged in the content to be learned and there should be an optimal match between the developmental stage of the child and the logical properties of the material to be learned. This approach, labelled developmentally appropriate practice in education, can pose a significant problem for teachers as they do not match the work set with the specific intellectual stage(s) of the children. In this case, work extending the concrete-operational stage and incorporating the formal-operational stage. The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (Nswteachers.nsw.edu.au) highlights and reinforces the appropriateness and requirement for teachers to have skill specific work matched to that of the student’s capabilities. Piaget’s early work has been subject to criticism and this comes from his underestimation of children’s abilities, failure to appreciate a link with environmental factors in the development of formal operations and his narrow range of socioeconomically diverse child research. Despite these critiques, his theories are still beneficial to teachers because of the extensive information he has compiled on the stages of cognitive development (Wavering). Vygotsky theories of children’s intellectual development have addressed the sociocultural aspect of learning and the role of human mediators in children’s learning (McInerney, 2015). Lev Vygotsky was a soviet psychologist whose research and theories stemmed from his belief that children’s intellectual development came from a range of social and environmental sources. Vygotsky’s philosophies surrounding socialisation and education (McInerney) involve a reciprocal teaching method paired with instructional concepts including scaffolding and apprenticeship which is invaluable for teachers to achieve the best results from their students (McLeod). As confirmed in the teaching standards (Nswteachers.nsw.edu.au), Vygotsky’s theories affirm the importance and requirement of socialisation through education in the school transition period...
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