Vygotsky’s Social Learning Theory: Importance of social interactions in learning First there is a social interaction. Social interaction leads to the development of cognition. Children do not develop in isolation. Vygotsky (1978) states: “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, and to the formation of concepts.
All the higher functions originate as actual relationships between individuals. ” Vygotsky (1978) also states that “learning awakens a variety of internal developmental processes that are able to operate only when the child is interacting with people in his environment and in cooperation with his peers” Thus, learning could occur through play, formal instruction, or work between a learner and a more experienced learner. Vygotsky labels the two stages of development as follows: Proximal development: Where learning takes place. The zone of proximal development is the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers. ” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 90) Social interactions and mediation of learning is therefore essential to development. Current development: includes all that a child can do and perform independently at a given point in time. Implies that the child has internalized the knowledge and skills necessary to perform a particular task. Zone of Proximal Development ——————->————————–>———————> Beyond ability Ability withassistance Current Ability alone Beyond ability: Most three year olds cannot add two numbers no matter how much prompting or assistanct is given. Ability with assistance: Most four year olds can with some assistance add two numbers Ability Alone: Most six year olds can add two numbers given to them without assistance of any kind. Learning is dynamic and the student is continually developing and attempting to master those things which they can do with assistance and are beyond their ability.
Teaching is effective when it is based on the next stage of the child’s development rather than on the current stage of development. Learning is always moving in a forward progression. References: Moll, L. (1990). Vygotsky and Education: Instructional Implications and, application of Sociohistorical Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society – The Development of higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.