Theories abound about the learning process. Learning can occur in all different environments but what is it that truly fosters cognitive development? Lev Vygotsky theorised that children’s cognitive development is explicitly related to language and social interaction, and that through social interaction, children learn how to use language and experience the world as a member of their specific culture. In examining Vygotsky’s theories it is important as a future teacher to consider the implications of his ideas in my own teaching. I considered Vygotsky’s concept of the zone of proximal development.
The learning process according to Lev Vygotsky (10 marks – 400wrds
Lev Vygotsky’s theory of learning begins with the idea that cognitive development occurs from sociocultural origins, that through social interaction children learn how to think (Duchesne, McMaugh, Bochner & Krause pp. 84) and how to use and access language and communication skills specifically as members of their culture and society.
Through social interaction, for example a parent with their child, the parent will provide interaction that is tied to their own cultural background and social situation and beliefs. The child experiences the interaction and learns communication and language through the parent. Vygotsky theorised that then, cognitive development occurred when the child had experienced a social process and afterward, within their own mind, transformed it into a process within themselves, (Duchesne et al. 2013 pp. 84) a progression which he called internalisation.
In learning, Vygotsky theorised that in order for learning to occur effectively, the learning experiences had to be meaningful and authentic in cultural context (Eggan & Kauchak, 2010. pp 48). He felt that children learned by being involved in meaningful experiences and activities with a more knowledgeable person, who can then support the child’s learning by imparting their own knowledge which the child is able to then internalise and derive their own understanding.
Along with authentic cultural context, Vygotsky examined the importance of providing learning activities gauged at a specific level to the child’s capabilities. He developed the concept of the zone of proximal development which he defined as the gap between what students can do independently and what they can do with assistance from another more knowledgeable person (Duchesne et al. 2013. pp. 87). This concept suggests that students learn best when activities are set in their zone of proximal development, so teachers implementing this theory would need create learning activities that are appropriate for the student’s level at which they could work with assistance, where the activities are neither what they can already do nor too difficult for the student.
Further to Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development is the concept of scaffolding. An appropriate amount of instruction and support from the teacher to allow a student to advance on their own...