Lev Vygotsky and ZPD
Vygotsky stresses the importance of looking at each child as an individual who learns distinctively. Consequently, the knowledge and skills that are worthwhile learning varies with the individual.
The overall goal of education according to Vygotsky is to “generate and lead development which is the result of social learning through internalization of culture and social relationships”. He repeatedly stressed the importance of past experiences and prior knowledge in making sense of new situations or present experiences. Therefore, all new knowledge and newly introduced skills are greatly influenced by each student’s culture, especially their family environment.
Vygotsky promoted the development of higher level thinking and problem solving in education. If situations are designed to have students utilize critical thinking skills, their thought processes are being challenged and new knowledge gained. The knowledge achieved through experience also serves as a foundation for the behaviors of every individual.
Vygotsky’s concept of the “Zone of Proximal Development” (ZPD) posits that human potential is theoretically limitless; but the practical limits of human potential depend upon quality social interactions and residential environment. This ZPD is “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers”. In theory, then, so long as a person has access to a more capable peer, any problem can be solved.
Here is a link to a higher resolution version of the above course map [PDF] which provides a handy overview of the structure of this course; you may wish to print this and other resources to annotate as the course unfolds.
One convention we use on this course is to highlight a task or tasks for you to do by the vertical line in the left-margin - like the one against this paragraph. So - here’s another task for you; when you are ready click the ‘Mark as complete’ button below and then select ‘Next’ to get started on Week 1.
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