Lev Vygotsky developed his theory of learning in the 1920’s but it was not until the late 1960’s that his ideas about learning became popular and were used to contribute to “Constructivism” as a method of teaching. (Krause [et al.] 2010 p. p81).
Vygotsky believed that learning and cognitive development were significantly influenced by social interactions that occur with in a particular sociocultural environment. There are four major influences on cognitive development.
• The social/cultural environment
• The impact of language
• Role of private speech
• The Zone of Proximal Development. (Krause [et al.] 2010 p. p81).
The social and cultural environment is seen as a pivotal influence on cognitive development because all social interactions are based on the prevailing culture. As the child interacts with its social and cultural environment, carers are subconsciously transmitting the prevalent culture It is up to adults to “socialise” the children into the appropriate skills so they can function appropriately.
The emphasis on social interaction influencing cognitive development impacts on how students are taught. Class room environments need to allow social interaction as a key part of learning activities. This social interaction permits students to learn from both the teacher and their peers through collaborative activities. Teachers that encourage discussion will lead students to think critically and this will assist in providing meaning to new information. (Powell & Kalina, 2009 p245)
Language has a significant impact on cognitive development as according to Vygotsky language precedes thinking. (Powell, Katherine C, Kalina, Cody J p241) A common language is necessary for people to interact socially. Language is the psychological tool that allows people to share meaning and it is the means by which the social and cultural context is transferred. The implications for the class room are that there will be plenty of discussions between students and between students and teachers.
Vygotsky upheld that people learned new ways when they internalise the processes or experiences they have participated in. This internalisation occurs through social interaction and the development of thinking moves from...