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Vygotsky developed a socio-cultural approach to cognitive development. Vygotsky believed that constructive interactions with parents, older children, teachers and siblings help children develop their way of thinking and functioning in the world. In Vygotsky’s view and older ‘mentor’ such as a parent helps the child, by initially taking responsibility for the basic skills the child is developing. Over time the ‘mentor’ will take less and less responsibility. Vygotsky called this step by step assistance scaffolding.
For example, a child may not be able to walk across a balance beam on her own, but she can do this whilst holding her mother’s hand. The mother acts a scaffold in this situation. Scaffolding is a structure or guidance of a more experienced person.
As time goes on the adult will continually adjust the support they give in response to the child’s level of performance. For example, as the child becomes more confident in her balance, the mother can hold on hand, and then eventually she can stop holding the hand. The child will be able to walk unassisted. Therefore scaffolding instils the skills necessary for independent problem solving.
Vygotsky labelled the gap between what children can accomplish by themselves and what they can accomplish with the help of others as the zone of proximal development. Vygotsky sees the zone of proximal development as the area where the most sensitive instruction or guidance should be given, allowing children to develop skills they will use on their own.
Vygotsky also suggested that language plays a huge role in cognitive development. He thought it was cruicial because a great deal of mentoring relies on talking and listening. Both Piaget and Vygotsky noticed that pre-schooled children tend to talk to themselves. Piaget regarde this a egocentric babble. Vygotsky called this private speech. He believed that children use private speech to regulate their behaviour and internal experiences. It is also used to plan...
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