Monday, March 4, 2013

Vygotsky: Ahead of His Time

In the period Vygotsky was researching and producing theories, pyschology was a relatively new science. Although some "pyschologists" existed, they were still thinking in a time period relative to their own, such as Piaget, who used a more physical approach in establishing his theories. Vygotsky was proposing theories through four elementary mental functions: attention, perception, sensation, and memory. I don't find it bizarre that today his teachings are popular, because his thinking was so foward. His socio-cultural approach to cognitive development struck me as particularly interesting, because everyone, whether they acknowledge their prejudice or not, feels as if some ethnicites are intellectually superior to others. As politically incorrect it is to make this assessment, it's not far from the truth to say that countries such as Germany or China excel much more intellectually than Canada or Ecuador. Vygotsky's theory on cognitive development could support a nation or culture being "ahead" through culture, social factors, or the emphasis on the role of language.

A friend of mine was raised in Korea and a story she told me of her elementary school teacher made me realize why countries like hers are advancing more quickly than America, persay. Her schoolmate was attempting to look at my friend's paper and upon the teacher's notice, he took them into the hallway and slapped the both of them across the face. He told them they were dishonest and brought dishonor upon their families. When her parents were notified, they had a similar reaction. I am not promoting physical violence or shaming as a means of learning, but the consistency that exists amongst parents and teachers. The significance of an education has much more pressure on their society, versus an American one because of the lack of culture, or inconsistency. Another one of my friends, who is American, around the same age was caught cheating. She was "slapped on the wrist" by means of relocation in the classroom, but not by means of humilation or being physically reprimanded. Their parents were not notified. I believe this distinction between two cultures exist because of all of Vygotsky's work: culture, such as nations, social factors, including parents and educators, and even the role of language, because children under the two aforementioned causes are able to understand more when they are taught to advance more quickly. For so brilliant a man to die at 38 makes one wonder how much more we could have advanced with foward thinking theories.

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