Psychologist Lev Vygotsky proposed that children learn through interactions with their surrounding culture. This theory, known as the socio-cultural perspective, states that
cognitive developmentof children and adolescents is enhanced when they work in their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD for short). To reach the ZPD, children need the help of adults or more competent individuals to supportor scaffold them as they are learning new things.
According to Vygotsky's theory, children can do more with the help and guidance of an adult or other person more experienced person than they can doby themselves. The Zone of Proximal Development defines skills and abilities that are in the process of developing. The ZPD is the range of tasks that one cannot yet perform independently, but canaccomplish with the help of a more competent individual. For example, a child might not be able to walk across a balance beam on her own, but she can do so while holding her mother's hand. Sincechildren are always learning new things, the ZPD changes as new skills are acquired.
In the example above, the child's mother provided assistance to the child. The mother acted as a scaffold in thatsituation. Scaffolding is the structure or guidance of a more experienced person. There are many different ways of scaffolding, including breaking the task down into smaller steps, providing motivation, andproviding feedback about progress as the person progresses.
Vygotsky’s theory is one of the foundations of constructivism. It asserts three major themes:
1. Social interactionplays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development. In contrast to Jean Piaget’s understanding of child development (in which development necessarily precedes learning), Vygotsky felt sociallearning precedes development. He 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...
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