Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory Transmission of culture to new generation Beliefs, customs, skil s Social interaction necessary to learn culture Cooperative dialogue with more knowledgeable members of society Vygotsky stressed the importance of language. (This is quite evident in his views concerning children’s “private” speech.)
VYGOTSKY’S SOCIOCULTURAL THEORY Children’s Private Speech Piaget’s View Piaget cal ed children’s utterances to themselves egocentric speech. He believed that cognitive maturity and certain social experiences—particularly arguments with agemates— eventual y bring an end to egocentric speech.
Children’s Private Speech cont. Vygotsky’s View Almost all research findings Vygotsky believed that reside with Vygotsky’s view. As a children speak to themselves result, children’s “speech to self” for self-guidance and self- is now called private speech direction. instead of egocentric speech. He viewed language as the Private speech is used more foundation for all complex often when tasks are difficult, mental activities. after a child makes an error, and when a child is confused about As children get older and how to proceed. With age tasks become easier, their private speech goes self-directed speech declines underground, changing from and is internalized as silent, utterances spoken out loud into inner speech. whispers and silent lip movements.
Social Origins of Cognition During early childhood, communication in the proximal development zone includes verbal dialogues as adults and more skil ed peers help children master chal enging activities. Effective Social Interaction To promote cognitive development, social interaction must have certain features. Intersubjectivity is the process whereby two participants who begin a task with different understandings arrive at a shared understanding. Scaffolding refers to a changing quality of social support over the course of a teaching session. The term guided participation is a broader concept than scaffolding, cal ing attention to adult and child contributions to a cooperative dialogue without specifying the precise features of communication.
Social Origins of Cognition cont. Research on Social Interaction and Cognitive Development Parents who are effective scaffolders have children who use more private speech and are more successful when asked to do a similar task by themselves. Children’s planning and problem solving show more improvement when their partner is either an “expert” peer or an adult. Achieving intersubjectivity by resolving differences of opinion and cooperating during peer interaction is more important in fostering cognitive development than are conflict or disagreement.
Vygotsky and Education Both Vygotskian and Piagetian classrooms have opportunities for active participation and acceptance of individual differences in cognitive development. Vygotskian environments promote assisted discovery. Assisted discovery is helped along by peer col aboration and the arrangement of cooperative learning experiences by teachers. According to Vygotsky, make-believe play is a unique zone of proximal development in which children try out a variety of chal enging activities and acquire many new competencies.
Evaluation of Vygotsky’s Theory Verbal communication may not be the only means, or the most important means, through which children learn in some cultures. The kind of assistance offered to children varies from culture to culture, depending on the tasks that must be mastered to become a contributing member of society. Vygotsky said little about how basic motor, perceptual, attention, memory, categorization, and problem-solving skil s contribute to social y transmitted, complex mental activities.