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Contemporary Education: Foundational Theories Comparison Essay

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Updated: Jul 9th, 2020

Compare and Contrast Foundation Theories

The contemporary education is based on the theories and approaches that were developed by several outstanding foundational experts of the 20th century. These well-known practitioners explored various approaches to pedagogy which served as the main influence on the modern perspective on teaching young children, the basic class management strategies, the perception of learners and curriculum. This paper provides a comparison and contrast between the foundational theories of such 20th-century educational practitioners as Lev Vygotsky, John Dewey, and Maria Montessori. The thinking styles of these experts will be explored along the lines of the roles of interaction with adults and environments in the learning process, and the meaning of the curriculum knowledge. Finally, the modern tendencies and impacts on education will be discussed.

Lev Vygotsky Interview

Vygotsky believes that the cognitive process differs from a person to a person (Costley, 2012). This means that the ways different children use to comprehend new knowledge and materials are unique for each specific learner.

What is the role of interactions with adults in the process of learning? Communication with adults is the basis for knowledge acquired by young children, it shapes the children’s ideas and perception of the world around them because they employ the behavior of adults as an example and subconsciously treat it as the “right” way to act in different situations.

What is the role of the environment for learning? A child interacts with the environment non-stop ever since they are body. As a result, the environment serves as a “lens” that forms the child’s behaviors and responses (Costley, 2012). Cultural and social environment is created mainly through the child’s interaction with other people. Following their guidance, a child learns culturally and socially appropriate reactions, manners, and behaviors.

What is the meaning of the curriculum materials and knowledge for a learner? Any curriculum is composed of two main elements – physical tools and cognitive tools (Costley, 2012). Physical told include supportive devices children use in the class such as scissors, rulers, and mathematical compasses. Modern physical tools include calculators, tablets, and laptops. Cognitive tools are languages, symbols, numerical systems, graphs, charts, and schemes. Language is a vital aspect of a curriculum because the teacher influences their learners using language. Curriculum knowledge is to be integrated into the culture of a society and deliver knowledge applicable outside of the classroom.

John Dewey Interview

Dewey is the author of the dual inquiry theory which is based on the division of the curriculum into two main aspects – scientific and common sense. The curriculum developed by Dewey was based on the incorporation of the two aspects and a gradual shift from common sense to the scientific perception of the environment by the learners (Harris, 2012).

What is the role of interactions with adults in the process of learning? The role of an adult is to provide a child with the information concerning the past experiences of the society and specific individuals in different areas. Young generations learn based on the information older generations acquired empirically, and children learn based on the life experiences of the adults surrounding them.

What is the role of the environment for learning? The environment is an important trigger for learning. Environments facilitate knowledge acquisition and practice. An appropriate for the learning environment is to provide the student with access to the adult people’s past experiences, which means that close communication between a child and the adults around is crucial.

What is the meaning of the curriculum materials and knowledge for a learner? The main purpose of the curriculum is to provide a smooth and unbreakable connection between the information children learn in the classroom with the skills and knowledge they will require in their everyday life (Harris, 2012). The curriculum developed by Dewey was specifically oriented at the search of an ongoing interaction between the common sense and the scientific aspects of the curriculum.

Maria Montessori Interview

Montessori believed that as learners children are active since babyhood. Therefore, they engage in the learning process and experience several different stages of learner sensitivity when they are ready to acquire, process and apply a lot of new knowledge (Platz & Arellano, 2011).

What is the role of interactions with adults in the process of learning? During their early childhood children obtain the most critical types of knowledge which determines their future behaviors, reactions, and learning. Since young children learn mainly from their interactions with adults, the communication with their caregivers and supervisors is what shapes the children’s further development. The people and experiences that surround a child during the first years of their life are the most important.

What is the role of the environment for learning? The environment is only favorable for the young learners when their unique personalities are preserved and protected from generalization. The children learn the most effective when adults let them experience and explore the world around. This means that the adult is to obtain the role of an attentive observer to create a favorable learning environment based on the individual needs of each specific child (The Montessori “Method”, n. d.).

What is the meaning of the curriculum materials and knowledge for a learner? Since letting the children learn naturally is the best way to create active acquisition of new knowledge, it is important to incorporate the activities typical for the children into their curriculum. In other words, learning through play and explorative learning based on authentic experiences has to be included in the curriculum of the young learners and connect the scientific knowledge with day-to-day experiences.

Comparison and Contrast

The obvious similarity between the thinking styles and theories of the three educators is the idea of child-centered education and the facilitation of a tight connection between the curriculum and the everyday life experiences. Dewey, Vygotsky and Montessori support active learning and the importance for a child to obtain the leading role in their own development (Morrison, 2012). At the same time, Vygotsky and Dewey agree that adult is to actively participate in a child’s learning, but Montessori maintains that an adult’s role is to supervise and observe. Besides, Dewey and Vygotsky’s ideas a close as both agree that children’s learning is to be based on the past experiences of the adults, but Montessori argues that a child is to encouraged to pursue their own experiences independently. In other words, Montessori emphasizes the practical side of learning, while the two other educators emphasize theory.

The views of the three educators are the basis of the modern approach towards learning. For example, Montessori and Vygotsky’s belief that each child is unique and requires an individual approach is in tune with the modern issue of diversity in the classroom. Vygotsky’s view that the language is the most important aspect of a curriculum supports the idea of multicultural education. The modern tendency of parental involvement is in tune with Dewey and Vygotsky’s integration of the curriculum materials into the day-to-day experiences helping to create a connection between common sense and scientific knowledge.

Conclusion

To conclude, the past of the educational theory has a very strong impact on its present and future. The modified versions of the old approaches and views are applied today to add flexibility and responsiveness to the delivery of education and address the needs of each child taking into consideration their specific features.

Reference List

Costley, K. C. (2012). . Web.

Harris, F. (2014). John Dewey’s dual theory of inquiry and its value for the creation of an alternative curriculum. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies (JCEPS), 12(2), 302-349.

Morrison, G. S. (2012). Early childhood education today (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Platz, D., & Arellano, J. (2011). Time tested early childhood theories and practices. Education, 132(1), 54-63.

. (n. d.). Web.

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