Weblog Pedagogy (contd)

Vygotsky’s discoveries and observations led him to assert “the intellectual development of children is a function of human communities, rather than of individuals.” In order to understand the potential of blogs for education, and why so many educators are excited about them, it is useful to know a little bit of Vygotsky’s theories, and how they have been developed by educators since. Here’s a teaser. (NB: I have read far more references to Vygotsky than I have Vygotsky himself. Dewey can be (and has been) quoted by both progressives and conservatives to support their views. I suspect the same is true for Vygotsky. You have been warned!):

Both Piaget and Vygotsky emphasize the active role of the child in constructing an understanding of the world, in building theories or models or schemata of how things work, and then testing these against available evidence…

But… Vygotsky found… that Piaget’s developemtnal stages were socially rather than naturally determined… Vygotsky focuses on the social environment as well as the physical one. He shows how the child assimilates and accommodates to the environment surrounding him in a social rather than individual context…

a) The child’s development of thought and language is not just an individual but a social process, with the individual embedded in a society and culture from the first….

b) Language mediates between the learner and the world, shaping and extending thought. The child actively constructs a world, and language helps shape the construction….

c) Skilled teaching not only supports the development of thought and language but enhances it… In Vygotsky’s world, the teacher has, potentially, a much larger role, and a skilled teacher not only can expose the child to situations in which he can make discoveries and form understandings but also can engage the child in dialogue and support his learning, leading him into a “zone of proximal development,” Vygotsky’s term for helping a child’s reach always exceed his grasp. [”An Unquiet Pedagogy”, Kutz, E. & Roskelly, H., Heinemann, 1991, pp 38-40]


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