At this point in time we are starting to see how Vygotsky’s theories are being implemented into today's educational experiences. In classrooms you see collaborative learning where students learn from members of their peer group. More advanced students are able to help the less advanced members. In cases like this, I believe that it is important that children know that they are understanding and capable of helping others, while it is beneficial for less advanced children see their peers being successful.
Lev Vygotsky believed that psychology needed to explain all of personality, not just singular behaviors and proposed a developmental model which assigned a primary role to culture and contemporary issues in psychology.
Vygotsky introduced theories that stress the fundamental role of society and social interaction in cognitive development. Vygotsky’s theory has become known as Social Development Theory.
Vygotsky believed that social learning came before development. What does this mean?
“Higher mental process in the individual have their origin in social processes.”
Lev Vygotsky was developing his theories close to the same time that Jean Piaget was starting to develop his idea’s, therefore there is a lot of comparison between the two men as theorists and the theories themselves.
One particular research actually show Piaget vs Vygotsky and how the theory differs.
-Vygotsky focused more importance on how the culture can affect and shape cognitive development, therefore he believed that since cultures are different, so is cognitive development.
-Vygotsky also emphasized that social factors contribute to cognitive development. He believes that cognitive development “stems from social interactions from guided learning within the zone of proximal development as children and their partners co-construct knowledge.”
The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is defined by Vygotsky = The distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers. 1978
Another source simplified the meaning of ZPD Stating “ZPD relates to the difference between what a child can achieve independently and what a child can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner. The most sensitive instruction or guidance should be given - allowing the child to develop skills they will use on their own; developing higher mental functions.”
-Vygotsky thought highly and emphasized the role of language in cognitive development, he stated that cognitive development results from an internalization of language.
This also led him to think that thought and language are separate systems from the beginning of life,but merge around 3 years, producing Verbal Thought.
Vygotsky along with other theorists believed that infants are born with the basic materials or abilities for intellectual growth and development. He thought that learning happens and is enhanced by task that challenge us. That’s where the role of teachers and society play a part in the learning process.
Vygotsky claimed the basic materials that children have are Attention, Sensation, Perception and Memory. He called these Elementary Mental Functions, but through interaction, social cultural environments and other learning opportunities, these mental functions become more advanced and he refers to them as High Mental Functions.
If you were to observe learning in different cultures, we would see that learning looks different throughout the world, depending on the culture and value systems of a particular place in the world. Vygotsky so claims that the culture we are raised in helps people develop different memory strategies. Some cultures like the US take notes, other cultures tie knots or carry pebbles. To me it is obvious how culture “imprints” or impacts they way we learn and also act.
Cultures or environments exist in communities as small as an individual classroom. So the impact of different cultures would make sense to understand how children learn from their peers. Vygotsky believed that interactions with peers to be an effective way of developing skills and strategies. We call this cooperative learning. When students have the ability to provide assistance to other students it provides them with self esteem and a feeling of belonging to a community,
Another part of Vygotsky’s research shows us the importance of speech and language and said that language play 2 critical roles in cognitive development.
1- How information moves from adult to child.
2- Language itself becomes a powerful tool of intellectual adaptation.
Vygotsky said that there are 3 Forms of language
1- Social Speech = external communication
2- Private speech = directed to self
3- Silent Inner Speech = private speech goes “underground” speech is not audible and is used as a self regulating function.
This proves further Vygotsky’s point of language being part of development because thoughts are connected and essentially words. Language is an accelerator to thinking and understanding. Thoughts are new forms of mental functioning.
Vygotsky show or tells how private speech is a tool for
- overcoming task obstacles
- enhances imagination
- thinking and awareness.