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Cognition is a process involved in mental activity, for example, memory, attention and solving problems and in thinking. There are many theories developed to explain the process of cognition. In this research paper, I will compare and contrast Piaget's use and theory of cognitive psychology and Vygotsky's use and theory of cognitive psychology. They are the two theorists who were influential in formulating a scientific approach in the analysis of the cognitive development.
Both theorists agree that the cognitive development of a child takes place in stages. The difference that arises between the two is the different styles of thinking. They both believed that the relationships that exist between the individual and the social are necessary in cognitive development (Adey & Shayer, 1994). However, Vygotsky had the believe that it was the adults who have the responsibility to share their collective knowledge with the young ones. He did not believe that a child would grow individually. He believed that culture and the environment had an enormous impact in cognitive development of a child because a child unable to grow without learning from the environment. Vygotsky believed that stages of development of a child take place in a gradual and smooth process. For him, the social and cultural aspects are of great importance in cognitive development than they are for Piaget theories. Vygotsky believed that learning is one that supports the discovery model of learning where a teacher plays an active role while the mental abilities develop in a natural way through various paths of discovery (Ormrod, 2005). For him it is through social activities that children learn social inventions and other cultural tools, for example, language, writing, art and music. He believed that the history of a child is necessary to be understood because it overrides the cognitive stages described by Piaget. However, they both hold that social factors have influence in cognitive development of a child.
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On the other hand, Piaget was the first person to reveal that children think and reason differently at different period or stages in their lives. He demonstrated four stages in which a child develops. There is the sensorimotor which occurs age of one and two. In this stage, a child deals on what is presented to him or her. Preoperational stage occurs between two and seven years. A child learns to count and can carry out conversation. The concrete operational stage occurs in age seven to ten whereby a child can conceptualize abstract concepts, for example, numbers relationships and reasoning. There is the formal operational stage which occurs age twelve to fifteen where a child becomes more adult like in their thoughts processes and thoughts. Piaget held that children have a natural inquisitive about their abilities and also about their surrounding. He held that children are capable of advancing their knowledge because he believed that children have cognitive changes, which are biologically, regulated. Piaget believed that children had the capability of learning processes in each stage at any time. He overlooked the role the activities of the child played in relation to the thought processes. For him, children knowledge is constructs through the actions of the world (Shaffer & Kipp, 2009).
They also held contacting views as Piaget believed that cognitive changes come before linguistic advances while Vygotsky held that language offered a child more freedom of thought and enhances further cognitive development. Piaget held that language moved from individual to social while Vygotsky believed that language moved from social to individual (Hook & Watts, 2004). The thoughts of the two theorists are applicable in modern psychology in schools where children with mental development problem can be recognized if they fail to show development according to their age. In medical filed the theories are also used to diagnose and in making recommendations for the treatment of children with retarded cognitive development. In child therapies, the two theories can be utilized through the therapeutic process.