Vygotsky and Pedagogy

Vygotsky and Pedagogy

Vygotsky and Pedagogy

Vygotsky and Pedagogy

Synopsis

The theories of Vygotsky are central to any serious discussion of children's learning processes. Vygotsky argues that children do not develop in isolation, rather learning takes place when the child is interacting with their social environment. It is the responsibility of the teacher to establish an interactive instructional situation in the classroom, where the child is an active learner and the teacher uses their knowledge to guide learning. This has many implications for those in the educational field. This book explores the growing interest in Vygotsky and the pedagogic implications of the body of work that is developing under the influence of his theories. It provides an overview of the ways in which the original writing has been extended and identifies areas for future development. The author considers how these developments are creating new and important possibilities for the practices of teaching and learning in school and beyond, and illustrates how Vygotskian theory can be applied in the classroom. The book is intended for students and academics in education and the social sciences. It will be of interest to all those who wish to develop an analysis of pedagogic practice within and beyond the field of education.

Excerpt

The current emphasis on educational standards has given rise to a number of ways and means of scrutinising the outcomes of educational processes. In this book I wish to revisit the topic of pedagogy as it may be seen through a particular set of positions within social theory. My argument is that unless we understand the ways in which possibilities for learning are enacted within institutions we will be frustrated in our attempts to really raise standards. Through a review of a branch of social theory I will consider how social, cultural, historical and institutional factors may be seen to impact on processes of teaching and learning. My suggestion is that the term pedagogy should be construed as referring to forms of social practice which shape and form the cognitive, affective and moral development of individuals. If pedagogic practices are understood as those which influence the formation of identity as well as learning outcome as defined in, say, test scores, then a form of social theory is required that will allow us to model and investigate the factors which may be exercising some effect. The book thus seeks to understand the processes of education through models which allow for a broad range of influences and outcomes.

There is a growing interest in what has become known as ‘sociocultural theory’ and its near relative ‘activity theory’. Both traditions are historically linked to the work of L.S. Vygotsky and both attempt to provide an account of learning and development as mediated processes. In sociocultural theory the emphasis is on semiotic mediation with a particular emphasis on speech. In activity theory it is activity itself which takes the centre stage in the analysis. Both approaches attempt to theorise and provide methodological tools for investigating the processes by which social, cultural and historical factors shape human functioning. Neither account resorts to determinism in that they both acknowledge that in the course of their own development human beings also actively shape the very forces that are active in shaping them. This mediational model which entails the mutual influence of individual and supra-individual factors lies at the heart of many attempts to develop our understanding of the possibilities for interventions in processes of human learning and development.

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