Essay Plan: Vygotsky�s Theory of Cognitive Development by ysiClB


									     Essay Plan: Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive
        Development(see Pennington p.53-57 and Gross p. 498-500)

   Start by giving some historical background on Vygotsky: He was
    Russian, his theory was developed in the 1920s but not published in
    English until the 1960s.

   Vygotsky stressed social (see below) and cultural factors – children
    learn what is culturally relevant to them. Western children are at ease
    with computers because they are a central part of their culture.

   Explain how Vygotsky saw children as apprentices (learning from
    others) whereas Piaget saw children as scientists (discovering things
    for themselves).

   Next, say how Piaget was criticised for ignoring social factors (the role
    of other people in cognitive development) – remember he was more
    interested in discovery and the process of adaptation.

   Vygotsky, on the other hand, stressed the social world and claimed
    that learning or development can only occur through others. Give the
    quote (or as much as you can remember):

          Vygotsky (1978) states: "Every function in the child's cultural
          development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the
          individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then
          inside the child (intrapsychological).

   Describe what Vygotsky means by internalisation and give an
    example (learning to count is a good one).

   Explain the Zone of Proximal Development. Draw the
    diagram – remember to use the key words (actual and
    potential). Give an example.

   Explain how the ZPD also accounts for individual differences
    because two different people of the same age can be at
    different points on the line. Piaget’s stage theory cannot do
    this because he says that if you are age 4, for example, you
    must still be in the pre-operational stage.

   Describe the process of scaffolding – give an example
    (learning to drive is a good one).

   Use Wood & Middleton (1975) as empirical support – see
    p.54 (Pennington).
   Explain the implications for the classroom:
          Piaget – children should be given the opportunity to
          explore,    experiment     and    discover things for
          Vygotsky – children need structured guidance and
          teaching from adults and/or experts in order to

   Evaluate the theory:

       o   Vygotsky’s theory does answer many of the criticisms
           made against Piaget (see points above)
       o   His theory implies that development can be artificially
           accelerated by lots of guidance, but this is not so –
           children often only learn when they are ready to learn,
           e.g. language.
       o   His theory suggests that adults (parents) always act in
           positive and helpful ways towards their children. This
           is not always so, parents sometimes deceive their
           children about issues such as sex and death.

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