Hi Folks! This week I have chosen to talk about the famous Russian Psychologist Lev Vygotsky. If you have ever studied education before you have probably heard of him. Vygotsky produced very influential work relating to learning and development in the context of cognitive development . Much of his work is applicable to the early years; hence my decision to talk about it!
Vygotsky argued that adult influence and support was paramount to children’s ability to learn and consequently develop (he believed learning preceded development, which is sometimes seen as a little controversial!). He came up with concepts that are now well established in Educational Theory such as ‘The Zone of Proximal Development’ and ‘Scaffolding’- a concept that was later expanded on by other prominent educationalist, Jerome Bruner.
Lev Vygotsky created the zone of proximal development towards the end of his life. It refers to the space in between what children can do with the assistance of others and what they cannot yet do. Vygotsky argued that children learnt by following the example of adults until they are eventually able to develop skills and perform tasks independently. Consequently, Vygotsky argued that the role of educators is to provide children with experiences that are within their zones of proximal development and encourage them to advance so they can ultimately act without assistance.
At Woodland Outdoor Kindergartens, we frequently endeavour to provide children with experiences that place them within their zone of proximal development, perhaps the most obvious example of this can be found when you consider the way that staff help children climb trees! When children first start at Woodland Outdoor Kindergartens they are often fascinated by the diverse outdoor environment and the many fallen trees. Children watch their peers climb trees but are often cautious about attempting to do so themselves. Therefore staff initially support children by offering them physical and verbal support to help them climb the trees. After a few attempts, and a reduced amount of support, children generally feel comfortable enough to climb the trees themselves. This is a fantastic example of scaffolding and children moving through the zone of proximal development.
That’s all for this week folks! If you have any further questions or any recommendations for future blogs, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Links and Further Reading:
BOOK: Parallel Paths to Constructivism: Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky ( Piaget also a very important figure in relation to education, constructivism and cognitive development)