The Contribution of Lev Vygotsky to our understanding of child development

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Assignment Questions

  1. Describe the contribution of Lev Vygotsky to our understanding of child development and how this can help inform our understanding of human development.
  2. Drawing on the key principles of lifespan theory, outline how poor mental health can impact on a child or adult’s life experience.

Each question should have introduction, main points and conclusion.

 

POINTS FOR QUESTION 1.

 

Lev Vygotsky

  • Soviet psychologist
  • Seen as a cognitive-social theorist
  • Argued development was influenced by the connections in our lives
  • Stressed the ‘social’ and ‘cultural’ in development

Main Principles

  • Shared Piaget’s view that children were active in their learning
  • Placed more emphasis on the role of language in the cognitive process
  • That learning is not linear and can differ according to situations
  • Social development and interaction with people is also an important part of cognitive development; particularly the role of sensitive adult
  • Also raised the significance of peers (later researched and expanded on by William Corsaro)
  • Interpretive reproduction: children both engage with and alter their circumstances

Zone of Proximal Development

  • Vygotsky believe that children had unlocked potential that adults had to discover
  • This is referred to as ZPD
  • The ZPD is the gap between what the child can currently do and what they have the potential to do

POINTS FOR QUESTION 2.

 

Lifespan Theory (Glen Elder,1998)

 

  • 5 Principles:
  1. Time and Place
  2. Life Span development
  3. Timing
  4. Agency
  5. Linked Lives
  1. Time and Place

Where in History is a life lived?

Recognizing that the past shapes a future

 

  1. Life Span Development
  • Human development from birth to old age and death
    • Disciplinary roots:
      • Psychology & social psychology
      • Sociology
      • History
    • Evident in :
      • Social structures
      • Legislation & social policy
      • Social and familial traditions
  1. Timing
  • This relates to the timing of events and choices in life
  • There is a temporal pattern to events in a person’s life (nursery, school, further or higher education, work, marriage…….etc)
  • As Clausen (1993) explains people’s choices on timing construct their life course.
  1. Agency
  • This concept has gained much recognition in the past 2 decades, particularly within sociology.
  • Relates to the independent actions we take (often referred to in relation to structure)
  • Relates to
    • Self-efficacy
    • Choice and participation
  1. Linked Lives: Elder considers this as a cornerstone of life course theory!
  • As Setersten (2015: 217) states:

“Human life is social. Indeed, one’s life narrative is hardly one’s own. Its strongest storylines are punctuated by and enmeshed with other people. “

  • It acknowledges and explores the connections we have with others, across a range of levels. Also connects with the work of Bronfenbrenner (which you are exploring in the theories model)

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