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What separates humans from animals?

What separates advanced societies from primitive societies? What separates advanced cognition from basic cognition? That is, what makes us smart?

Vygotsky awakes our eyes to the powerful role of culture and community in learning. His theory presents the radical idea that our very thought and intelligence is really not our own. Its the product of history and culture.

Mediated Activity

Signs (Help us do mental work-So I call them mental tools)

Tools (Help us do physical work)

Vygotskys Basic Concepts


Cultures

create mental tools which transform our mental work just like physical tools transform our physical work.

Vygotskys Basic Concepts

As we internalize these tools we become smarter (i.e., we develop higher psychological processes). Language is the mother of all mental tools.

Piagets vs. Vygotskys views on the relationship between tho

Vygotskys Basic Concepts

We internalize these tools as we work in our Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

Th e distance between the actual d evelopmental level asdetermined by independent problem solving and the le of potential development as vel determined through problem solving under ad ult guidance or in collaboration with more capable others(Vygotsky, Mind in Society, p. 86 ).

Tasks I cannot do even with help

Tasks I can do only with help

ZPD

Tasks I can do all by myself

Use abstract language

ZPD
What mental tool has been internalized?

Use language

ZPD

Babble

Vygotskys Basic Concepts

Learning (internalization of tools) occurs most naturally and efficiently when we participate in authentic, social activities.

Vygotsky in a Nutshell

The mental tools of our culture are what make us smart. We acquire these mental tools best through meaningful participation in authentic, social activities. The ZPD describes how we learn from others as we participate in social activity. Overall, learning is a process of enculturation.

Human learning presupposes a specific social nature and a process by which children grow into the intellectual life of those around them (Vygotsky, Mind in Society, p. 88)

Learning as a process of Enculturation


Think about a group or clique you were a part of in high school. What were some of the defining qualities of this group?
What look did you need to have? How did you need to talk? What unique values did the group have? What activities did you engage in?

How did you learn to be a part of this group and adopt these qualities?

Individual and Social Constructivism

Individual: individuals construct meaning out of what they already know and through their interactions with the environment. Social: Groups or cultures construct meaning together out of what the group or culture already knows and experiences.
Vygotskys extension: Individuals construct meaning through their interaction with others (i.e., they internalize the meaning constructed by the group or culture as they become enculturated).

Instructional Models Based on Vygotsky and Social Constructivism

Cognitive Apprenticeship model


Modeling Scaffolding and Fading
Providing support so that students can complete some task they couldnt do alone. Then gradually removing the support as students gain competence. In other words, help student progress through their ZPD.

Authentic Activity
Real world Complex Meaningful Social

Instructional Models Based on Vygotsky and Social Constructivism


Examples

of the Cognitive Apprenticeship model:


Reciprocal Teaching Immersion approach in foreign language instruction. Science apprenticeships

How would the teacher education program be different if it were based on an apprenticeship model (i.e., if the whole thing was like an extended student teaching assignment)? What would be the advantages/disadvantages?

Instructional Models Based on Vygotsky and Social Constructivism


Community

of Learners

Joint problem solving Student directed inquiry Dialogue Everyone not learning the same things Note: This is a collaborative form of problem-based learning. Hence, it fits with both individual and social constructivism.

Instructional Models Based on Vygotsky and Social Constructivism


Examples

of the Community of Learners model:


Our motivation project. Deborah Balls constructivist math instruction.

Diversity
What

are some of the educational implications of Vygotskys belief that our thought and intelligence comes from our society and culture (through the internalization of culturally constructed mental tools)?

Some implications

Must take the sociocultural context into account:


Cultural norms, attitudes, beliefs Cultural knowledge bases Cultural forms of language use Power and politics

Must be aware of cultural mismatch (mental tools of home culture dont match up with mental tools required in school).
Example: types of questions used at home vs. school (Brice-Heath). Example: use of talk-story in Native Hawaiian culture.

Note: Formal thought is internalized language; language comes from society; hence the mind is a product of society.

[Back to Vygotskys basic concepts.]

Discussion Questions from the Fringe


Karl

Marx said that religion is the opium of the masses. More recently, Minnesota governor and ex-pro wrestler Jesse Ventura said that religion is for the weak minded. Would Vygotsky agree? What about Piaget?