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The Cognitive Development Theories of Piaget and Vygotsky - Essay Example

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The cognitive development theories of Piaget and Vygostsky are similar in some ways as they both envision children passing through clearly defined stages of intellectual and cognitive growth. The contrast between them is that Piaget postulates an essentially internal process that the child will pass through almost irregardless of outside influences, whereas Vygotsky suggests that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition…
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The Cognitive Development Theories of Piaget and Vygotsky
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Download file to see previous pages Thus there is an essentially social aspect to the human mind. A good example of Vygostky's theory at work is that within the learning of language the first attempts are for the purpose of communication with adults/peers, but once mastered they become internalized and allow for what he terms "inner speech" (Wertsch, 1985)
This theory's strengths lie in the fact that to understand a child's development the researcher (or the parent) must carefully consider the environment within which that child is placed. Thus the theory encourages a great deal of interaction between the child and her parents, teachers and contemporaries. It also reflects what anecdotal evidence would suggest is true: children are deeply influenced by the situation in which they are living.
One of the great weaknesses of Vygostksy's theory, one that cannot be really laid at the door of the man himself was, ironically, the environment within which he was living. Thus living in a totalitarian Communist regime the idea that social contact between a child and its environment was of the utmost importance neatly correlated with the Marxist idea that "the smallest human unit is not one, but two" (Marx, 1998)
So Vygotsky's cognitive theories were based upon an ov...
Thus living in a totalitarian Communist regime the idea that social contact between a child and its environment was of the utmost importance neatly correlated with the Marxist idea that "the smallest human unit is not one, but two" (Marx, 1998)
So Vygotsky's cognitive theories were based upon an overarching philosophical, sociological and economic theory (Marxism) that claimed to explain everything through the scientific method. In fact it did nothing of the kind, so Vygotsky 's theories must be seen as being based upon infirm foundations that essentially dictated the results of the analysis before any data had been collected.
Jean Piaget was, luckily for him, not subject to the intellectual limitations of a totalitarian regime. He lived in Switzerland and was thus allowed to follow his data towards the theories that they suggested, rather than that which were required. Piaget's ideas are called the "Stage Theory of Cognitive Development". He postulated that there are four major stages of cognitive development. A child develops rapidly through these stages until the age of eleven, when there is little change. Before detailing the actual stages, it is clear that the idea that the human brain develops little after the age of eleven is incorrect, and this is one of the basic weaknesses of Piaget's theory. The human mind at eighteen is vastly more developed than it is at eleven, as other theorists have illustrated.
Turning to the actual stages; these are the sensorimotor stage, from birth to 2 years, when the child deals with reality in terms of sensations and motor movements. At this stage the child is unable to reason in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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