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Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory

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Ernesto Ylasco

on 26 June 2014

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Transcript of Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory

Vygotsky in Perspective: Implication & Evaluation
Lev Semanovich Vygotsky

Vygotsky contributed important food for thoughts that gave a new insights in cognitive development:

1) cognitive growth occurs in a sociocultural context that influences the form it takes, and;

2) many of a child’s most noteworthy cognitive skills evolve from social interactions with parents, teachers, and other more competent associates.


What do Piaget and Vygotsky have in common?
Vygotsky agreed with Piaget that young children are curious explorers who are actively involved in learning and discovering new principles. However, unlike Piaget, Vygotsky believed that many of the truly important “discoveries” that children make occur within the context of cooperative, or collaborative, dialogues between a skillful tutor.
To illustrate collaborative (or guided) learning as Vygotsky viewed it, consider this:

Tanya, a 4-year-old, has just received her first jigsaw puzzle. She attempts to work the puzzle but gets nowhere until her father sits down beside her and gives her some tips. He suggests that it would be a good idea to put together the corners first, points to the pink area at the edge of one corner piece, and says, “Let’s look for another pink piece.” When Tanya seems frustrated, he places two interlocking pieces near each other so that she will notice them, and when Tanya succeeds, he offers words of encouragement. As Tanya gradually gets the hang of it, he steps back and lets her work more and more independently.
How do collaborative dialogues develop cognition?

Tanya and her father is operating in what is called as Zone of Proximal Development - the difference between what a learner can accomplish independently and what he or she can accomplish with the guidance and encouragement of a more skilled partner.
Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development
Functions of shared remembering in child's memory development:

- the tendency of more expert participants to carefully tailor the support they provide to the novice learner’s current situation so that he can profit from that support and increase his understanding of a problem.

- process by which an expert, when instructing a novice, responds contingently to the novice’s behavior in a learning situation, so that the novice gradually increases his or her understanding of a problem.
Mother: Brittany, what’s at the park?
Brittany: Babyswing.
Mother: That’s right, the babyswing. And what else?
Brittany: (shrugs)
Mother: A slide?
Brittany: (smiling, nods yes)
Mother: And what else is at the park?
Brittany: (shrugs)
Mother: A see...
Brittany: Seesaw!
Mother: That’s right, a seesaw.
Consider this conversation between 19-month old Brittany and her mother that shows shared remembering as guided participation:
From Vygotsky’s viewpoint, language plays two critical roles in cognitive development, by (1) serving as the primary vehicle through which adults pass culturally valued modes of thinking and problem solving to their children, and (2) eventually becoming one of the more powerful “tools” of intellectual adaptation in its own right. As it turns out, Vygotsky’s perspective on language and thought contrasts sharply with that of Piaget.
The Role of Language & Development
Piaget's Theory of Language & Thought

Piaget called self-directed utterances egocentric speech—talk not addressed to anyone in particular and not adapted in any meaningful way so that a companion might understand it.

Vygotsky's Theory of Language & Thought

Vygotsky noticed that preschool children’s self-directed monologues occur more often in some contexts than in others, specifically as they attempt to solve problems or achieve important goals, and that this nonsocial speech increased substantially whenever these young problem solvers encountered obstacles in pursuing their objectives.
Vygotsky's sociocultural theory offers a new lens through which to view cognitive development. However, there are some minor arguments on this:

1. Guided participations that rely heavily on the kinds of verbal instruction that Vygotsky emphasized may be less adaptive in some cultures or less useful for some forms of learning than for others.

2. Collaborative problem solving among peers does not always benefit the collaborators and may actually undermine task performance if the more competent collaborator is not very confident about what he knows or if he fails dapt his instruction to a partner’s level of understanding.

1. Which viewpoint will you take?
2. To what extent can you use language?
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