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Vygotsky's Theory of Cognitive Development in Childhood

What is Vygotsky's perspective on cognitive development in early childhood? Provide concrete examples of language and social interaction in pre-school children and explain them in terms of Vygotsky's perspective on cognitive development in early childhood.

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Last updated: March 20, 2010

1. What is Vygotsky's perspective on cognitive development in early childhood? Provide concrete examples of language and social interaction in pre-school children and explain them in terms of Vygotsky's perspective on cognitive development in early childhood.

Vygotsky's (1896-1934) Social Cognitive Theory is the work of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who lived during Russian Revolution. Vygotsky's work was largely unkown to the West until it was published in 1962. (http://www.learning-theories.com/vygotskys-social-learning-theory.html) "The social cognition learning model asserts that culture is the prime determinant of individual development" (http://www.funderstanding.com/content/vygotsky-and-social-cognition).

Vygotsky's perspective is, in part, a reaction to one of the criticism of Jean Piaget's Cognitive Theory--that Piaget misjudged the influence of language and social interaction on a child's learning. For example, although Piaget proposed an invariant stage sequence, some scholars assumed that he was a maturationist. He was not. Maturationists believe that stage sequences are wired into the genes and that stages unfold accordingly to an inner timetable. Piaget, however, did not think that his stages are genetically determined. They simply represent increasingly comprehensive ways of thinking. Children are constantly exploring, manipulating, and trying to make sense of the environment, and in this process they actively construct new and more elaborate structures for dealing with it. For Piaget, stages of cognitive development represent increasingly comprehensive ways of thinking, ones that differ from that of adults.

Vygotsky, on the other hand, argued that children's thinking is highly influenced by interactions and conversation (which are cultural in nature) with other people. If we want to know how children think and learn, he proposed, we need to observe them in natural interchanges with others. Real-life interactions influence children's problem solving (see example below). In fact, Vygotsky's theory is one of the foundations of constructivism, with three major themes:

1. Social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development. In contrast to Jean Piaget's understanding of child development (in which ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains in detail Vygotsky's perspective on cognitive development in early childhood. Specific concrete examples of language and social interaction in pre-school children are provided and explained in terms of Vygotsky's concepts. References and other links for further research are also provided.

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