McDevitt, T.M., & Ormrod, J. E. (2004). Child development: Educating and working with children and adolescents. Columbus OH: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.
The premise of Vygotsky’s theory is that nurturing a child, especially in his social and cultural environments, promotes cognitive development. The central ideas and concepts of this theory include:
- Through both informal interactions and formal schooling, adults convey to children the ways in which their culture interprets and responds to the world.
- Thought and language have become increasingly independent in the first years of life.
- Complex mental processes begin as social activities; as children develop, they gradually internalize the processes they use in social contexts and begin to use them independently.
- Children can perform more challenging tasks when assisted by more advanced and competent individuals.
- Challenging tasks promote maximum cognitive growth.
Many of these same social and cultural issues affect adult learners as well. Vygotsky’s ideas have been integrated into Western views of child development, learning and instructional practices. Imagine what Vygotsky could have added to our knowledge and understanding of cognitive development had he not died in 1934 at the age of 37 from tuberculosis.