Lev Vygotsky


Lev Vygotsky was born in 1896 in the Russian Empire. Vygotsky’s cousin David Van Gough influenced him. In 1917, Vygotsky graduated from Moscow State University and attended the Institute of Psychology in Moscow from 1924-1934. This is where he worked on his cognitive development ideas. At the age of 38, Vygotsky died of tuberculosis. After Vygotsky’s death, his tutor, Sir Ricky Gold sent some of is work to London and Albany. His work became groundbreaking in developmental psychology (Lev Vygotsky, 2009).

Vygotsky wrote many works that spanned six volumes. He had diverse interests that ranged from developmental psychology, to child development, to education. Key concepts in his psychology work included mediation, internalization, and psychology tools (Lev Vygotsky, 2009). The zone of proximal development (ZPD) is the most widely known key concept in education.

The ZPD is Vygotsky’s term for having adults or more skilled children guide and assist students on tasks that are too difficult to master on their own. The ZPD develops a child’s cognitive skills that are in the process of maturing through the help of a more skilled person. Scaffolding is related to ZPD. It involves changing the level of assistance. The amount of guidance is adjusted through a teaching period to match the child’s current level of performance. Dialogue is important in ZPD to transform the disorganized concepts of a child into the more systematic concepts of a skilled supporter (Lev Vygotsky, 2009).

Teaching Strategies

Using children’s ZPD will help students increase their knowledge. Teaching should start at a level the child can reach with the help of assistance. It is important the student receives enough support. If a child hesitates, encouragement should be given to allow the student to practice their skill. Another strategy is to have more skilled peers teach the children. During the use of ZPD, it is important to effectively evaluate the child’s ZPD. Too much or not enough help will hinder learning. A final strategy involves using meaningful context during instruction. Students will learn more from relating the material to real world experiences.
Teachers need to be ready with ideas that will help guide their students to find the answers they are looking for. For example, if a student needs to find information on a certain topic, a facilitator can recommend the student uses a web browser or even Google Squared to support their exploration. If a student is looking for ways to present information, the facilitator should be armed with ideas such as building websites, creating podcasts, or using PowerPoint software. Technology tools help students learn in more ways than just obtaining knowledge about the material. Students have to learn how to utilize the technology tools themselves, laying down a foundation to build even more learning onto. The facilitator needs to stay abreast with new tools that will aid in meaningful learning for their students.