Vygotsky vs. Piaget (Post 5)

Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky both believed that children are active participants in understanding the world around them, however, the way they chose to prove their theories of cognitive development differ substantially.  Piaget presented his ideas of the four stages of cognitive development in children.  The first of these was the Sensorimotor stage (Birth-2), in which children construct knowledge of the world based on learning through their senses, or forming “schemas.”  Broken down within this stage is adaptation, which is further defined through the ideas of assimilation and that of accommodation. Assimilation is the process by which a person takes information from their environment, which may mean changing the evidence of their senses to make it fit, while accommodation is the difference made to one’s mind or concepts by the process of assimilation.  The second stage is the Preoperational stage(2-7): by which a child cannot yet think logically.  A study of this was presented when a child is shown two glasses of water with equal amounts, and in front of them, the researcher pours one glass into a tupperware shorter and squattier than the glass.  Based on the findings, most children could not identify that no matter what container the water was in, it was still the same amount.  Third was Piaget’s Concrete Operational stage.(7-11)  Within this stage a child is finally beginning to use logical representation and reasoning to identify with the world around them.  They can generally at this point define the world based on logical response rather than solely on perception.  Fourth and final of Piaget’s stages, is the Formal Operational Stage (11+).  This stage is identified as the pinnacle of cognitive development, at this point a child has the potential to understand all abstract, logical, and hypothetical deductive reasoning, and has certainly gained an understanding of the world around them.

Vygotsky, however, was an active believer in Sociocultural learning.  He believed that children understood the world around them based on all interactions with others.  He expressed his theory of learning by the term “Zone of Proximal Development.”  By this idea, children learn through scaffolding, where the caregiver or teacher will alter the lesson so that the child is doing what is just barely outside of their learning with the help of the teacher.   One must keep in mind that this zone is certainly cultural sensitive.

Both Vygotsky and Piaget had interesting theories of cognitive learning for children.  Which do you most agree with?

Kellie Gibson


~ by alicefairinloveandwar on November 2, 2009.

2 Responses to “Vygotsky vs. Piaget (Post 5)”

  1. I have to say that I like both theories, though for different reasons. Piaget was attempting to provide a theory from a biological perspective, and I believe that his theory is most valuable in the early stages, before clear-cut attachment occurs. This makes sence because this is before a child is receptive to social factors facilitating learning.
    Vygotsky, however, is a more intuitive theory that explains how the interactions of the child with caregivers, and others, has a significant effect on children.
    Consider the amount of information a child accumulates before preschool.
    Consider that this all happens in an informal environment.
    Consider the how long it would take a college student to learn the same amount of information(including fluency in a second language) , in a formal university setting.
    Have you recently seen many 4 year olds sitting at desks learning language through self study(something along the lines of Piaget)?
    Then other factors must facilitate learning.
    The environment doesn’t instill meaning or knowledge beyond a basic understanding of the laws of physics(like gravity), Or bodily sensations(blue, hot, cold, pain).
    Wittgenstien argues against the possibility of private language, so clearly children don’t acquire language via piaget-ian methods.
    therefore, Social learning is the only option left.

  2. above comment provided by stuart walker

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