Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Why not try Vygotsky's social constructivism theory in your classroom?

Teachers are always looking for new ways to improve classroom teaching. So why not try to put Vygotsky's ideas into practice? Vygotsky's social constructivist theory "view learning as an active process where learners should learn to discover principles, concepts and facts for themselves, hence the importance of encouraging guesswork and  intuitive thinking in learners" (Bransford, Brown and Cocking : 2000). 

Please remember, that although you are trying your best to upgrade teaching and learning in your classroom, Vygotsky's theory does not mean that anything can be taught to any child. You should only teach activities that fall into the child's zone of proximal development.

To understand Vygotsky’s concept of the zone of proximal development  a teacher must decide on what the child can do on his/her own and what the child can do with the help of a peer or an adult in the classroom.

Go ahead and try it. Plan cooperative learning activities activities that children are capable of doing on their own. If they are not capable of doing it on their own, they have to do it with the help of  a peer or with the help of the teacher. You must remember that you will have to assist by "scaffolding" the learning process. I do not want you to simplify the ask, but rather give hints, or prompt the child at different levels of learning. 

Bransford, J., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (expanded edition), Washington: National Academies Press.

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