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Describe a theory into Cognitive Development and Critically evaluate and discuss how it is applied to education.

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COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT a) Describe a theory into Cognitive Development and b) Critically evaluate and discuss how it is applied to education. Vygotsky believed that children's cognitive development took place as the result of social interactions between children and other people. He identified two forms of mental functions:- elementary mental functions (innate capacities such as sensation) and higher mental functions (problem solving). He believed that cultural influences transform elementary functions into higher mental functions, so without culture, a child could not progress from elementary mental functions. According to Vygotsky, culture is transmitted via language and the help of persons with greater knowledge. Adults, who have more knowledge, can provide a supportive context within which the child is guided towards the solution of problems. This is the idea behind Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), the developmental process where children move from an initial stage at which children are able to do things independently. ...read more.


It was Piaget's belief that by teaching a child something, you are preventing them form learning it for their self. Vygotsky's theory also encourages teachers to treat children as individuals as a teacher must assess a child's readiness to learn. Not only in their present ability, but in their capacity to learn with help. This means that although two children may have similar present abilities, they may differ in the amount that they could improve if given help (eg, Vygotsky suggested that children from working class backgrounds often had large zones of proximal development while children form middle class families had narrower zones of proximal development). This approach does not imply universality in development like Piaget does, so children are tested individually rather than being taken through universal stages. Brown and Ferrara (1985) ...read more.


Vygotsky believed that culture was transmitted via language, so language is very important for cognitive development. So, in education, language should be emphasised, especially as it was proposed that language training would speed up intellectual development. However Piaget argued that language development had just a supportive role in cognitive development, not an instructed one. But even if development is largely independent of language, it is still an important aspect of education. Bruner developed on the importance of culture in the role of cognitive development and proposed Man: a course of study (MACOS), a 'curriculum' capable of huge variation and development in relation to child and culture. The principle application to education of Vygotsky's theory of education is that teachers should help, guide and instruct their students. Bruner provided a lot of support for this as he argued that teachers should support the child in the classroom until the child is able to continue that skill alone and that instruction is necessary for children to develop higher forms of thinking. ...read more.

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