There is a lot that goes into someone learning and constructing knowledge. There have been many theories as to how this is possible. One of these theories is Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development. Piaget believed that we all go through four stages; Sensorimotor, Preoperational, Concrete Operational, Formal Operational- as he believed we go through all of these in the same order, but approximate ages. Then came along Lev Vygotsky, who elaborated on the Sociocultural Theory to which he believed lots of the learning we do is by children being taught from someone older and more knowledgeable. Zone of Proximal Development is the area of learning where it is just out of reach for the child to comprehend, but the can grasp it with instruction. Vygotsky believed that this is the area that is most successful for teaching and learning something. Erik Erikson had a psychosocial theory that describes how specific tasks are accomplished at different stages of life-which, according to Erickson, there are 8- and these topics result in being positive or negative.
All of these theories do have some limitations. With Piaget’s theory, it lacks consistency with the idea of conservation. It also underestimates children’s abilities- the problems that he gave to the younger children seemed a little tough and they probably could understand more than assumed. Vygotsky’s theory seems to exaggerate the role of culture with child’s learning- we are born with more cognitive space than Vygotsky predicted. He also seemed very vague on with his Zone of Proximal Development- there is no way to compare children’s ability’s with those of their age using this, and that is hard because no scale exists to measure this.
These theories can be a guide to help us to teach in the future. One example is scaffolding,which is derived from Vygotsky’s theory; We can be a foundation of learning for the children and help them through a problem while they are giving the actual answers and doing the thought process. Going hand in hand with that strategy is Vygotsky’s other theory of “Zone of Proximal Development” which is the are of learning where the material is just out of grasp for the children to get, but close enough to where they will be able to understand it. This is an ideal teaching/learning target zone. If we could find the ZPD of the children and then use scaffolding to teach them the material, that would be a great combo. But even before all of that stuff- we need to be able to find the ZPD- we have to be able to observe and record(or take a mental note) of what learning stages these children we are educating stand within these theories. All of these theories can intertwine together and we can keep all of them in the back of our minds to help with knowing where the children stand. We can also pass on this information to future educators or parents so that the learning is prosperous instead of stagnant.
Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Biological Model of Human Development helps us understand the concept of our physical and social contexts and how we interact between the two. the different systems include the Microsystem – Most immediate system- home, school, afterschool programs. Mesosystem- the interaction between the different systems. Exosystem- Mass Media, child’s school, parent’s workplace. Then Macrosystem which is the broadest system- Cultural values, beliefs, customs, laws.
There are also different parenting styles that can have an effect on child development. Authoritative Parents-High warmth, high control. Authoritarian parents- Low warmth, high control. Permissive Parents-Low warmth, high control. And Rejecting/Neglecting parents- Low warmth, low control.
I will give an example of an authoritarian set of parents using a TV show example. A TV show I used to watch as a kid was Home Improvement-my dad couldn’t get enough of it! But Tim “the Toolman Taylor” and his wife Jill were authoritarian. They were loving but at the same time cared about their children enough to be involved in all phases-along with giving the children their space when they need it. They also showed the interaction of the family between Bronfenbrenner’s different systems. they showed how the family interacted(Mesosystem) at home, friends houses, and school(Microsystem), and many times at their dad Tim’s workplace(Exosystem)