Cognitive development refers to the gradual process through which the mind of a child goes through towards maturity. This process takes time because the thinking capacity and understanding is a gradual process.
We will write a custom Essay on Synthesizing and Comparing Vygotsky’s and Piaget’s Theories specifically for you
301 certified writers online
There are two theories that have been trying to explain the growth of a child’s mind, and that is Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories. This paper focuses on the facts provided by these theories and identifies their differences and similarities regarding cognitive development.
Piaget’s theory contains four stages of cognitive development. The first stage is called the sensorimotor stage which commences from birth and lasts till the child reaches two years. Learning during this period is based on physical activities.
For instance the child learns that he/she can explore the surroundings by crawling because he/she can not walk. As time moves by the child begins to stand and lean on objects that are on his/her path (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).
Language skills begin to develop at this level but they are difficult to recognize because the words that the child attempts to utter don’t mean anything to those who are nearby. At this stage the child becomes acquainted to the objects that are ever present in his/her environment.
This includes objects like television and electric lights and when the child is shifted to a different location such as another home without such appliances they may behave strangely because they reckon that’s not their usual residence.
The second stage of Piaget’s theory is labeled preoperational stage. This phase of growth commences from two years till seven years. From the beginning of this period till the end the child becomes selfish, in that, he/she wants to have everything to him/herself. They don’t want to share anything with anyone. For instance, a child cries when another child uses her/his toy but he/she wants to use those of other children.
Another example is when the child’s mother holds another child in her arms which causes her own child to cry due to jealousy. Slavin (2003) explains that at this stage verbal language is fully developed and is coupled with body symbols such as shrugging when they are not interested in something and nodding their head when in agreement.
The third stage of Piaget’s theory is called operational phase and it occurs from the moment the child is seven years until it reaches eleven years. The earlier qualities of being selfish diminish at this phase. At this phase the child’s thoughts become critical which allows them to understand things better.
The last stage of Piaget’s theory is called the formal operation level. At this level the child is able to use his/her mind to solve some problems in class such as in mathematics where the child is able to sum up the numeric figures to arrive at an answer (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).
Vygotsky’s theory does not have any phases in its explanation of cognitive development. The author argues that growth is enhanced by self speech or in other words talking to oneself. In this theory there is a zone called proximal development which is said to be located after the child’s present level of knowledge. This theory argues that a child’s knowledge is enhanced by those around him/her because they are the ones who teach him/her what he/she ought to learn (Garton, 2004).
For instance, the child is taught how to walk by his/her mother. While in school the teachers provide guidance and examples that are supposed to help the child understand the subject in question. When a baby is born it does not know anything and in fact medical experts argue that a baby does not recognize its mother immediately after delivery but it gets used to the mother’s body odor with time.
In their theories both Piaget and Vygotsky state that learning is an accumulative process because a child learns new things everyday which is added to the already existing knowledge. Besides that the two theories are of the opinion that the intensity of learning is limited by the society where the child resides.
According to Garton (2004) the above mentioned arguments are quite true because knowledge is a continuous process that can never be exhausted even in adulthood because the experiences of one’s childhood account for one’s experience. For instance, a child does not know that fire is dangerous and when you warn him/her without explaining why fire is dangerous he/she does not understand your point until he/she places his/her hand over a flame.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
This means that a child learns through experience hence no matter how we try to enlighten them they still rely on their experiences. This argument is supported by Piaget’s theory. This theory states that the child learns better through experience. On the other hand Vygotsky’s theory explains that the child is taught by the people around him and is fully dependent on their contribution towards his/her enlightenment.
The arguments brought by the theories show that the theories are not in tandem with each other. Piaget’s theory does not show any statistical evidence in relation to experiments on child development. Children are born from different families and it is difficult for them to develop at the same stage. Others may develop faster through experience and others perform well through education.
In this regard, the educators should apply these theories while they are teaching learners because as children grow up their thinking becomes diverse. This is because they have varied experiences.
Additionally, the pace at which children understand things is different such that there are those who grasp ideas fast while others tend to be slow. Teachers should therefore be patient while dealing with children because if the child feels that he/she is not knowledgeable he/she may loose self esteem which is a vital aspect in child development.
Garton, Al. (2004). Exploring Cognitive development: The Child as Problem Solver. Carlton: Wiley-Blackwell.
Huitt, W., & Hummel, J. (2003). Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/cognition/piaget.html
Slavin, R.E. (2003). Educational psychology: Theory and practice. (7th Ed). Boston: Pearson Education.