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Compare and contrast Piaget's and Vygotsky's views of cognitive development.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast Piaget's and Vygotsky's views of cognitive development. Cognitive development is the growth in our capabilities as learners. Cognitive development theory attempts to explain how humans acquire and construct knowledge of themselves and their world. The first systematic theory of cognitive development was proposed by Jean Piaget, however there are other major theoretical approaches to cognitive development, including those of Vygotsky. Piaget approached the subject from a biological, nature, perspective, whereas Vygotsky approached the subject from an environmental, nurture, perspective. This leads to major differences in their theories regarding the way in which we learn and the importance of certain aspects such as language on cognitive development. Piaget's theory focuses on the organisation of intelligence and how it changes as children grow. Whereas Vygotsky's theory centres around the social process and he defines intelligence as the capacity to learn from instruction. We will also look at the impact both men's theories have had on education and how they have been applied to education. For better or worse. We will, therefore, look at these differences along with others, as well as the similarities of Piaget's and Vygotsky's theories and compare and contrast them. Both Piaget and Vygotsky were influenced by the evolutionary implications of Darwin's theory, which does account for some resemblance between them and Vygotsky's intellectual heritage was similar to that of Piaget. ...read more.

Middle

Whereas Piaget gave very little importance to language, in the development of thought. Vygotsky and Piaget had a fundamental disagreement about the relationship between language and thought. Piaget (1923) argued that early language is egocentric and only becomes socialised with cognitive development. He suggested that the pre-operational child fails to take into account the other person's view and as a result, the early conversations of children have more of the quality of monologues than of dialogues. Only with cognitive development does speech take on a genuinely communicative function. According to Piaget's theory, language and communication depend on the development of thinking. Vygotsky argued, on the contrary, that language is communicative from the beginning. He carried out an ingenious test of his theory. He compared the amount of `egocentric` speech when hearing pre-school children together, with the amount of speech produced when the hearing child is placed in a room with a group of deaf-mute children. Under these circumstances the hearing child has little chance of communicating and Vygotsky found that the rate of egocentric speech decreased significantly. This result would not be expected if speech had been intended by the child simply as a monologue. Piaget believed that egocentric speech reflects an inability to take the perspective of others and plays no useful role in development. Whereas Vygotsky believed that egocentric speech is an important developmental phenomenon, which helps children to organise and regulate thinking. ...read more.

Conclusion

Vygotsky also placed stronger emphasis on culture in shaping cognitive development. As a child develops, they learn to use tools for thought that are valued by their culture. Piaget believed that development precedes learning but Vygotsky believed that learning pulls development. In terms of `readiness`, Piaget believed that children's readiness for learning is defined by their existing level of competence and knowledge. Whereas Vygotsky, argued that instruction should be directed toward the child's potential level of development, the level of competence they can demonstrate with the assistance and guidance of others. And finally, Piaget believed that egocentric speech reflects an inability to take the perspective of others and plays no useful role in development, but Vygotsky believed that egocentric speech is an important developmental phenomenon. It helps children to organise and regulate thinking. When you look at their practical applications to education, you can see that infact there is a place for both views in schools. Children are not all the same and learn differently, what works for one does not necessarily work for another, there are no hard and fast rules. It should be a matter of looking at the individual and finding a teaching method that works best for them. You can see Piaget's views at work in the classroom, lots of experiments and practical lesson. As well as Vygotsky's view that the teacher should go back to the blackboard. Surely there is a time and place for both in education, and both are of equal importance. Deana Porter 1 ...read more.

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There is a lot of detail in this essay and the writer has clearly done quite a lot of reading and research. The essay title has been addressed well and throughout the writing, references are made to the differences and similarities of Piaget's and Vygotsky's views. The essay could be improved by trying to put some of the more difficult concepts into the writer's own words to avoid being accused of plagiarism.

Marked by teacher Linda Penn 29/03/2013

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