30-Second Psychology: The 50 Most Thought-provoking Psychology Theories, Each Explained in Half a Minute - Christian Jarrett 2011
Growth & Change
For Vygotsky, our ability to think and reason is largely the product of a social process. Young children can do very little by or for themselves, and learn instead by interacting with others. By taking part in social activities with ’expert’ tutors or instructors, such as parents and teachers, they move towards independence and self-sufficiency. This involves a gradual transformation of their intellectual abilities: the problem-solving process initially takes place within the social setting, but becomes ’internalized’ as the child follows by example. Consider pointing — at first, it is little more than an indicatory gesture, the baby’s failed attempt at grasping something beyond her reach. When the mother sees her baby pointing, she helps out, and may point to the object herself. As a result, the baby learns to point to an object out of her reach, then gazes at her mother. The pointing gesture is intended as a signal to the mother that she wants the object she is pointing to. Vygotsky’s ’zone of proximal development’ refers to the gap between the child’s actual and potential development, or what she has already mastered and what she can do under the guidance of an adult. Accordingly, IQ tests cannot provide a measure of the child’s true capabilities, because they only indicate what she can do unassisted.
Children are young apprentices, acquiring knowledge and new skills through guided collaboration with those who already possess them.
Despite dying at the age of 37, Vygotsky made a significant contribution to psychology, and his ideas are particularly relevant to education. As well as questioning the validity of standardized testing, he showed how teachers can support pupils’ intellectual development by means of interactions and instructions structured around the tasks they can perform independently. In so doing, the teacher provides a ’scaffold’, or context, within which the pupil can exercise her existing knowledge to solve the problem at hand.
KOHLBERG’S MORAL STAGES
Vygotsky pointed out that children don’t learn in a social vacuum, but by interacting with, and observing, others.