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The Influence Of Interactions On Child Development

1564 words - 7 pages

Socio-cultural theorists emphasize that much of the development takes place though direct interaction between children and other people e.g. parents, teachers, siblings and so on. Lev Vygotsky (1934) argued that this interaction helps children to acquire the skills and knowledge that are valued by their culture. Children are active learners, constructing knowledge, skills, and attitudes, not just mirroring the world around them. Essentially, the history and the culture of the society in which a child grows up and the events making up a child’s personal history determine much more than what that child knows or likes. It also determines which mental tools the child will learn and how these tools will shape the child’s mind.

Like Piaget, Vygotsky claimed that infants are born with basic abilities for intellectual development. These are called Elementary Mental Functions and include processes like attention, sensation, perception and memory. When children develop within the socio-cultural environment, these are developed into more sophisticated and effective mental processes, also referred to as Higher Mental Functions. For example, culture can determine our perception and how we see things. One example could be tribe cultures; they might help children to understand that plants are living things, as much as animals are. This understanding might come about from being exposed and interacting with nature on daily basis. Children that grew up in towns and cities, on the other hand, might not get as much interaction with the nature and their understanding that plants are living things might come about later on. Vygotsky therefore sees cognitive functions as affected by our beliefs, values and tools of intellectual adaptation of the culture in which the person develops. This might give a rise to the implementation of different teaching practices in different parts of the world and what children are taught is going to be most likely linked to the knowledge and jobs that they are required to perform later on in their life.

Vygotsky however, believed that the education does not just involve specific knowledge and skills. He believed that it is the knowledge of children’s learning abilities in order to be able to plan and think clearly and creatively and also communicate their understanding in variety of ways. This could be achieved by providing children with different social tools which allow children to use their basic mental functions more effectively. Vygotsky claimed that we use material tools to extend our physical knowledge and psychological tools to extend our mental abilities. These are symbolic ways of communicating and include things such as signs, symbols, drawings and so on. We can observe the implementation of these elementary mental functions though play in young children. At the preschool level of tools of mind, planning what the child is going to do is an important strategy to the development of self-regulation, meaning that they will be...

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