Activity 4

Neo-Vygotskian Pedagogy

READ: Please read the "Freedom of Thought" on Vygotsky from the Times Educational Supplement (30.7.04), by Sue Palmer and Galina Dolya, in which they explore some of the implications of Vygotsky's theories for younger school children.

REFLECT: Compare your own understanding in this Unit so far with what Palmer and Dolya say about key Vygotskian concepts such as the ZPD and egocentric speech. N.B. In the article, egocentric speech is referred to as ‘external monologue'.

Towards the end of the article, Palmer and Dolya quote from Vygotsky's writing where he argues that a good way of creating the ZPD is through children's play:

"Play also creates the zone of proximal development of the child. In play, the child is always behaving beyond his age, above his usual everyday behaviour; in play he is, as it were, a head above himself. Play contains in a concentrated form, as in the focus of a magnifying glass, all developmental tendencies; it is as if the child tries to jump above his usual level. The relationship of play to development should be compared to the relationship between instruction and development."

EXPLORE: Explore Galina Dolyi's website, Vygotskian Developmental Cognitive Curriculum for Early Years. Follow the links to ‘Story Grammar' and find out about some of the ways in which this teaching approach is grounded in Vygotskian theory.

In the following quotation from the opening page of the website, Dolyi explains the relationship between Story Grammar and Vygotskian theory:

"Vygotsky proposed that mental tools are to the mind as mechanical tools are to the body. Cultures use symbols, diagrams, models, graphs, maps, language and other symbolic devices. Children need to acquire these tools of the mind early, because it is these tools that will enable them to succeed in formal education. What's more, these cultural tools radically change the process of learning, allowing children to organise and regulate their own cognitive processes".

WRITE: How could Vygotskian theory support the development of learning in your own classroom? How relevant are any of his ideas to learning in your own subject area?

(Allow 30 minutes)