December 3rd, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »
When developing a lesson, activity or even writing a test, it is important for the educator to be aware of what each child is capable of learning. The problem arises of how, how can an educator be aware of each child’s learning potential? The answer, the zone of proximal development. The zone of proximal development was designed by Vygotsky, a well-known psychologist who shared his ideas concerning education only months before his death. According to Vygotsky the zone of proximal development is “the dynamic of the child’s mental development in connection with teaching” (Zuckerman, 1). Now in a language that is easy to understand what the zone of proximal development is, is when a child is that with peer assistance or teacher assistance, students are able to work at a more difficult level then they could before on their own, this enables them to learn how to operate independently (Wass & Golding 672).
In a classroom an educator could display this by stating an activity or chapter that the class will be going over, and have it be an activity that the child will not be able to do themselves. Begin with easy questions that the child can do independently, and move to harder and more difficult questions, the student will seek the assistance of a teacher or other student, at this point in the students learning they are in their zone of proximal development. The key is to observe what the child is doing on order to get help, are they waiting around for someone to ask them if they need help, or are they actively seeking help from another source in order to learn the information.
When developing a lesson it is important that the lesson is difficult at first glance, chances are that the students have never seen anything like this before, but with the assistance of another the task can be completed with ease (Wass & Goulding 671). A child must see that they can accomplish this hard task, and that asking for assistance means they are actively engaging in their learning. Why the zone of proximal development is important for educators of all kinds to know is because it shows the educators what areas the child is not matured in, and that gives the educators an idea of where to go next and what levels are appropriate for the students (Bozhovich 50). An example that Vygotsky gives is that students are “currently in the embryonic state; these functions could be called buds of development, the flowers of development rather than the fruits of development, that is, what is only just maturing” ( Bozhovich 49). By each student seeking assistance and wanting to solve the problem presented to them it allows them to be in their optimal zone of development and learn as much as possible. It is important that educators know what the ZPD is because it can be used in everyday education and in everyday activities. When a grandma is teaching her granddaughter how to knit, the grandma starts by giving instructions and then assistance so the granddaughter can easily learn, that situation is similar to what happens in a classroom. But that does not just have to happen in a classroom, as a aspiring speech pathologist, it is vital that I know what the ZPD is as well, I will need to be able to create lessons that the child can do, and that are not too easy or too difficult for the child to learn. By combing what the students already knows with more difficulty information it is possible for the child to learn virtually any skill. Through class discussion we discussed that the zone of proximal development can be drawn in a two circles. One little circle that is “what the student knows” and a bigger circle that the little circle is inside of, that is labeled “zone of proximal development” that means that as long as the lesson is began with something the child already knows, they can blossom that skill into a harder concept.
An important part of the ZPD is the child’s own view of themselves, this is referring to the student’s private speech, which is their way of internalizing and working through material on their own (WoolFolk 67). Without private speech it would be difficult for a child to work through problems on their own, and thus they would not be in the ZPD. A child needs to have enough confidence to ask for help, or even to take help from an educator or peer, by working on their private speech and the way they view themselves they are ultimately working on their ability to learn as well. If a child is not able to work on a worksheet that is at their skill level alone, then it would be a point to intervene and see if it was possible to boost that child’s view of themselves, thus helping their private speech and learning.
As a speech therapist it is necessary to develop the skills the child already knows in order to elaborate on them to improve further into more complicated subjects. For example if the child often omits consonant clusters, I would begin by showing the child things they can do, so begin at the level they are comfortable with to initiate their skills. Second, I would then have an activity that was beyond that child’s skill, in this case there would be words that contained consonant clusters, with my help the child will slowly be able to produce those words through therapy, thus showing the child that they can succeed by themselves, and that sometimes getting help is necessary. By a student being actively engaged in their learning it is possible to almost any student to learn a task. The ZPD can apply to any age, it is a vital part of school systems and really allows professionals to use their teaching time wisely and effectively to increase a students knowledge.
E.D (2009) Zone of Proximal Development:The diagnostic capabilities and limitations of indirect collaboration. Journal of Russian &Eastern Psychology, 47 (6), 48-69. Doi:10.2753/RP0161-045470603
Wass,R & Goulding,C (2014) Sharpening a tool: the zone of proximal development. Teaching in higher education, 19(6). Doi:13562517-9022958
WoolFolk, A. (2014). Educational Psychology (12thth ed.). Boston: Pearson.
Zuckerman,G (2007). Child-Adult interaction that creates a zone of proximal development. Journal of Russian & East European Psychology,45(3),43-69.doi:10.2753/RP01061-04054302