forum responses week 5

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In need of a 250 word response/discussion to each of the following forum posts. Agreement/disagreement/and/or continuing the discussion.

Original forum discussion/topic post is as follows:

Topic: Lev Vygotsky

According to Newman and Holzman (1993), Vygotsky should be more highly regarded than Piaget, Freud, or Skinner in terms of his influence on the studies of early childhood, special education, and adult literacy. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why? Back up your opinion with specific information regarding each of the theorists and his theory.

Source: Newman, F., & Holzman, L. (1993). Lev Vygotsky: Revolutionary scientist. London: Routledge.


Forum response #1

I believe that Vygotsky should be more highly regarded in terms of his influence on the studies of early childhood because of his theory’s focus on studying the interaction of differing forces on child development (Crain, 2011). Rather than trying to explain how children develop based on intrinsic versus extrinsic motivators, Vygotsky’s theory attempted to incorporate both viewpoints and examine how the differing perspectives work together to explain child development. In contrast, Piaget’s theory argues that children learn intrinsically and that they have the ability to learn and understand new concepts on their own. Skinner’s theory is more focused on the environmental influences on child development, as he believed that a child’s behavior can be manipulated by their external environment (Crain, 2011). I think that Vygotsky’s theory should be more highly regarded based upon his assertion that child development is not a nature versus nurture concept, but rather an interaction of both forces.

I also believe that Vygotsky’s theory should be more highly regarded in terms of his influence on special education. Piaget’s theory of development focuses on developmental stages and specific milestones and tasks that children should be able to accomplish during each stage of development (Crain, 2011). Piaget’s theory does not seem to try to understand or describe the non-typical development that would likely be seen in children requiring special education services. Similarly, Freud’s theory is largely based around specific developmental stages, but his theory does not seem to seek to provide an explanation for non-typical development. Also, Freud’s theory of development seems to focus more on child development and how it relates to interpersonal relationships rather than development applied in educational settings. While Freud’s theory offers the concepts of the id, ego, and superego which seek to explain the mind and its various levels of consciousness, his theory provides little in terms of development applied to educational settings. In my opinion, Vygotsky’s concept of the zone of proximal development should be more highly regarded in terms of special education. The zone of proximal development refers to the difference between what a student is currently able to achieve and what he is capable of achieving with some guidance or assistance (Crain, 2011). I think that this concept is particularly important when discussing special education services because it allows for a more accurate assessment of a student’s abilities and a more comprehensive teaching strategy for students who may require additional assistance or guidance.

Forum response #2

Learning different theories and there approach can be quite interesting as each and every individual has a distinct focus. The goal of Piaget’s theory is to explain the mechanisms and processes by which the infant, and then the child, develops into an individual who can reason and think. Freud believed that events in our childhood have a great influence on our adult lives, shaping our personality. Skinner believed that the mind exist, but that it is simply more productive to study observable behavior rather than internal mental events. Vygotsky recognized the importance of the kinds of intrinsic development that the other theorist were addressing, but he was a Marxist who believed that we can understand human beings only in the context of social-historical environment (Crain, 2016).
Vygotsky’s theories stress the fundamental role of social interaction in the development of cognition, as he believed strongly that community plays a central role in the process of making meaning. Unlike Piaget’s notion that children’s’ development must necessarily precede their learning, Vygotsky argued, “learning is a necessary and universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organized, specifically human psychological function. In other words, social learning tends to occur prior to development. With that being said I agree that Vygotsky is more highly regarded than Piaget, Freud, or Skinner.

Forum response #3

The psychological approach to development was very different between Piaget, Freud, Skinner, and Vygotsky. When comparing these different theorists, there are strengths and weaknesses of each. Although Freud is perhaps the most famous name when it comes to psychology, there isn’t much empirical evidence of the his psychosexual stages of development. Freud did reveal the importance of the unconscious levels of our minds, which was perhaps his greatest contribution. Skinner, a behaviorist that disagreed with the unmeasurable assumptions made by Freud, focused on learning through conditioning. Piaget dealt with the cognitive development of children and the critical periods in which children development certain capabilities in thinking and learning. When it comes to early childhood, special education, and adult literacy, I think that Freud’s theory presents the least amount of evidence and should be the least referred to when discussing development and learning. Skinner, Piaget, and Vygotsky, however, have key components to their theories that can reveal important aspects of early childhood, special education, and adult literacy (Crain, 2016).

When discussing early childhood development, I believe that Piaget should still be very highly regarded. Piaget’s stages of cognitive development indicated that infants, toddlers, and children were not merely unintelligent adults, but instead had brains that functioned and processed differently than adults. Key developments like object permanence, pretend play, egocentrism, and conservation helped explain the different cognitive abilities in different stages of childhood. Vygotsky had actually read the works of Piaget and was inspired by his aspects of intrinsic development that occur in early childhood, and he incorporated those ideas into his more integrated theory which also included the role of environment and culture. Although Piaget may have limited the ages in which children develop these abilities, and not placed enough emphasis on environment, his findings did inspire many, including Vygotsky, to study the inner developments of cognitive abilities. Vygotsky was able to expand on these intrinsic abilities with his discoveries of learning though memory aids and speech. These findings helped to better understand the development of children. When it comes to early childhood both Piaget and Vygotsky should be highly regarded (Crain, 2016).

In terms of special education, I think that both Vygotsky and Skinner made very important contributions to the field. Operant Conditioning provided very structured reward systems that are used in many special education programs. For example, the concept of a token economy can be very helpful for students with autism to provide structure, direction, and motivation in learning. I think that Vygotsky’s theory of the zone of proximal development has greatly influenced the education system as well, and especially special education programs. The zone of proximal development is the idea that children can learn so much more when they are aided by a more experienced learner or teacher. Many students working alone may have difficulty focusing, with self control, or fully understanding the content. With a helpful facilitator the student is able to understand so much more content and develop new skills because of the help that was received. This really encourages inclusionary classrooms so that students in special education aren’t learning in isolation, but instead are working with other students and special educators to learn as much as they can. Vygotsky’s theory has greatly shaped special education (Crain, 2016).

When it comes to adult literacy I think that it is Vygotsky’s theory is most important. Most of the time when adults struggle with literacy it is not only because of possible cognitive struggles, but there are cultural and environmental aspects that could prevent someone from being able to know and understand a language. According to Vygotsky, it is important to consider these cultural factors in learning and have facilitators use this to help learners to better understand how to read. This has been practically applied with success in aiding immigrants that are learning a new language, and were previously illiterate in their first language. In Israel there are many adults from Ethiopia that are illiterate in their first language and are trying to learn Hebrew. Researchers found that they were struggling with basic literacy programs, and used the work of Vygotsky as inspiration in creating a new program that would include aspects of their culture to help them learn how to read. They created a program that incorporated visuals along with reading printed words. Due to differences in culture these visual pathways have also not been developed with language pathways in brain because there wasn’t a need for them to be utilized because reading wasn’t practiced. Depending on the culture individuals have differences in spatial understanding of how to read words and sentences. Not only do these linguistic and visual abilities need to be taught, but there needs to be and audio incorporation as well. The understanding that words are represented with sounds is vital in reading, and therefore phonemes need to be developed as well. Their Vygotskian methods proved to be successful as they found that individuals that were in the program had statistically significant higher test scores than those that were in the original literacy program. Adult illiteracy can be complicated and it is important to consider the culture and experiences, as well as the cognitive abilities, that have caused the adult to be illiterate, which is why Vygotsky’s perspective is so important (Kotik-Friedgut et al, 2014).

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