Vygotsky was a Russian research psychologist who lived and worked in the 1920-30s. Because he died at the age of 38, it is thought that Vygotsky did not have time to completely develop his theories. The Communist Party banned his work, so it only became available to the educational community in the 1970s-80s. Vygotsky is known for his social development theory. He felt that social interaction was important in cognitive development.
Key Points from Vygotsky’s Theory
Knowledge is constructed in a social context (between two people).
Language is transmitted from adults to children and it is a powerful tool of intellectual adaptation.
Language develops in stages and is used for communication (social speech).
Children use egocentric or private speech to regulate their own thinking.
Children use inner speech (verbal thoughts) to guide their thinking and actions.
More Knowledgeable Other: This is a peer or adult who understands a task, process, or concept. This teacher’s role is reduced over time
Zone of Proximal Development: This is when a skill is too difficult for a child to master on her own, but can learn the skills with help of a “more knowledgeable other.”
Relevance to David Matteson’s Theory of Action
Teachers need to be aware of developmental stages so they can identify the zone of proximal development for each child. Then teachers provide appropriate support to the student until the student reaches competence in the skill or skill set.
Berndt, Thomas J. (1992) Child Development. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace