“All children have innate abilities but input from society in the form of interactions of adults and peers who are more knowledgeable mould these basic abilities into higher order functions” – Vygotsky
I think this quote captures something that has been lost in schools at the moment. teachers underestimate their influence upon children’s lives and how they can aspire children to reach their potential. Bronfennbrenner is an influential researcher as he looks into all the different contexts that a child will be influenced by. These people include first and foremost; their parents or those the children live with. Also peers; including friends and classmates will show different sides of life some of which the child will aspire towards and others that the child will steer clear of. There’s also the wider family who will have instilled development into the child’s parents. The child is most influenced by the environments that they are familiar with. For children in primary school, for example, these environments are home and school.
Vygotsky’s research showed that every child as a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) yhat can only be reached through guidance from a more knowledgeable other. Vygotsky also believed that all children are shaped by the culture therefore suggesting that all children become products of their environment, rather than all children becoming the same. This is quite important as it implies that if children are taught by someone who is more concerned grades rather than personalities then this could be taught as a way of life to young children. A teacher who takes the time to know the different personalities in their class and teach them in a way that they will understand in order reach their ZPD will gain the respect from the children needed to get them to excel. After all Vygotsky noted that children will learn best of those they admire and how can a child admire a teacher with no time to learn about their children to inspire them to become the best they can.
Some groups of children have been put into groups in order to excel their ability such as foundation and gifted & talented groups. Under these groups, these children gain the much needed support for them to excel to their individual ZPD under supervision from a specific teacher. However, what about the children that are left? The children that perform at average, don’t they deserve to be pushed? What if they just need that support to be able to push the boundaries that maybe even they thought would be impossible to reach? Teachers must realise the influence they have upon their pupils in order to push their personalities and accomplishments to the point that they deserve rather than just performing enough at average.
Saying all of this, we can only talk about the ZPD theoretically as it is very hard to measure this in a single measure. I still believe that is still a key point about how children are able to learn best; through more knowledgeable others.
Quote from Parke and Clarke chapter 1 page 22