Lev Vygotsky And Children's Development

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Modern developmental psychology owes an enormous amount to the work of Lev Vygotsky. The research that his theories continue to generate has far reaching implications for education and parenting, providing a valuable insight into children’s development. By challenging the behaviourist paradigm of the time, that children were merely passively responding to stimuli (Skinner, 1957, as cited in Lawton, 1978), Vygotsky opened new avenues of thought into the internal processes that governed children’s behaviour (Gredler & Shields, 2008) and the important influence of culture in raising a child. Vygotsky believed that children are born with certain innate abilities such as sensation and undirected attention, which he called ‘elementary mental functions’ (Vygotsky, 1962). These were considered to be merely reactions to the child’s immediate situation rather than an attempt to communicate or achieve goals. Vygotsky believed that these ‘intramental’ processes could not be developed without assistance and that progressing to ‘intermental’, or external learning processes, was key in children’s initial development. The idea of ‘inner speech’ (ibid.) is a concept that Vygotsky considered an important process in the transition from intuitive to external cognition, or from elementary to higher mental functions (Vygotsky, 1928, as cited in Daniels, 2011). His views on pre-linguistics differ greatly from the theories of other influential psychologists such as Piaget, who didn’t believe
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