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The Life and History of Lev Vygotsky
Topics: Developmental psychology, Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget, Cognitive psychology, Zone of proximal development, Psychology / Pages: 5 (1222 words) / Published: May 13th, 2013

Lev Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist who lived from 1896 t0 1934 and he was born in small town of Orshe near by city of Gomel (Republic of Belarus). Vygotsky advanced the theory of Social Development which aims at social interaction which plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development of young children in construct to Jean Piaget understanding of child’s development in which development necessary precedes learning. Vygotskian framework based on four principles underlying his framework which can be summarized as children can construct knowledge, development cannot be separated from its social context, learning can lead development and language plays a central role in mental development
A tool is something that can be used in the services of something else and a sign is something that stands for something else. Mediation is the use of these signs in mental processing.
Vygotsky proposed the concepts of internalization and zone of proximal development to describe how this mediation takes place. Vygotsky believed that culture affects how these higher functions are developed and acquired and to acquire these higher mental functions, a child must already posses the basic mental tools of the culture.
Vygotsky categorized mental processes into two levels these are lower and higher mental processes. Where by lower mental functions is innate and depends primarily on maturation to develop. Example cognitive processes such as sensation, reactive, attention, spontaneous memory and sensory while higher mental are unique to humans.
Vygotskian theories have similaties with theories of child development as proposed by other scholars, foristance both Vygotsky and Piaget are best known for their insights into the developments of thought process although the bulk of Vygotsky work was conserved with the development of thinking.
Piaget and Vygotsky agree that a child development is a serious of qualitative changes that cannot be viewed as merely an expanding repertoire of skills and ideas. Both Piaget and Vygotsky believed that children are active in their acquisition of knowledge.
Differences, according to Piaget intellectual development have a universal nature independent of the child’s cultural context. Thus all children reach the stage of formal operations at about the age of 14.For Vygotsky the cultural context determines the very type of cognitive process that emerges and foster the development of formal operations in their young while Piget emphasizes on the role of children interactions with physical objects in developing nature forms of thinking Vygotsky features on the child’s interactions with people.
Critique of the Vygotskian approach is that Vygotsky placed too much emphasize on the role of speech in cognitive development and did not adequately explore how other types of symbolic representations contribute to higher mental functions. Another criticism is that Vygotsky himself as well as his followers focused role of social factors in child development of the expense of biological factors such as heredity or maturation.
Strategies for Development and Learning
The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is one of the most concepts which used to facilitate the development, learning as well as development of higher mental functions in young children.
ZPD is a distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through pre collaboration with more capable peers.
ZPD occurs in two level, lower level and higher level. Lower level is the independent level what a child can perform child and higher one is that which a child can do in the assistance of an adult.
Mediators as mental tools are something that stands as an intermediary between an environment stimulus and an individual response to that stimulus. Examples are signs, symbols, graphic models plans and maps.
Mediators have two functions, first is to help children solve problem at hand and make it possible for them to perform independently. Second function is contributed to the restructuring of children’s mind by promoting the transformation of lower to higher mental functions.
Applying the Vygotskian Approach to Development and Learning in Early Childhood.
Development accomplishment as the indicators of each distinct period in child development but only those that are critical for the child’s moving into the next period are so designated. Example ability to think in images, an out growth of sensor motor thinking.
Development accomplishment in social situation. It is unique relation specific to a given age between the child and reality. To a child is determined by two factors, one is cognitive and social emotional competence and the way adults interact with child changes and the child matures.
One among the innovations done by Vygotsky was the introduction of learning activities which are the interactions between a child and the social environment that will lead to achievement of the development accomplishment in one period of life and prepare him for the next period and optimum development.
Development Accomplishments of Toddlers
As children make transition from infancy to toddlerhood their social situation of development changes and hey become more able doing things independently, children are now capable of walking.
According to Vygotsky babies are born into this world as social beings and just from their birth and development is shaped by interactions with caregivers. In supporting those caregivers should talk to young babies, sing to them, tell them stories and read for them books long before the babies. A baby cry should be as message mother should respond to it appropriately or non verbal, Vgotsky insist on the adult interactions and pre communications between a child and an adult.
Supporting toddlers from 12 to 24 months old, this is the time children become mobile through crawling and walking. Vygotsky emphasis that in reality behaviors shows is the same before this age but just extension of the exploration of what they did when they were younger. In this age it is important that the caregivers not just move the child or object out of reach but also use simple commands like “no” as an adult has to act as if the child is in the next level is able to use private speech as self direction.
Development accomplishment and learning activity, pre school and kindergarten development accomplishments are not simply the results of maturation but require participation in the leading activity and support from the social context to assure participartion to acquire accomplishments. Vygotsky pointed in dramatic play that play creates a zone of proximal development for many areas of intellectual development and it facilitates the separation of thought from actions and objects. Also Vygotsky argue that schools should “arm children with cultural tools” that allow them to adjust to the ever changing demands of evolving work place.
Dynamic Assessment; Application of the zone of proximal development.
Vygotskian suggested the following assumption of the traditional testing paradigm reduce its effectiveness for assessing ongoing classroom learning. The level of functioning revealed by the assessment accurately reflects children’s inner capacities. The purpose of assessment is to predict how the child will learn in the future, dynamic test is the one of the terms are chosen to be within the child’s ZPD but not all ready mastered. Example of dynamic assessment in the classroom is to ask a child to write his or her name is a common procedure often used by preschools and kindergarten teachers to quickly assess several literacy related competence in a young child.

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