VYGOTSKY'S THEORY: ROLE OF CULTURE AND LANGUAGE (Semiotics (Three…
VYGOTSKY'S THEORY: ROLE OF CULTURE AND LANGUAGE
Many theories fail to address the influence of social processes in cognitive development. However, Vygotsky's theory strongly emphasises the social and cultural context. It's known as a sociocultural theory as it assumes that social interaction provide the context for cognitive development and that these social interaction, in which learning occurs, are influenced by the cultural context.
Unlike Piaget, Vygotsky didn't assume a universality of cognitive development, and said that children's cognitive development should be understood in terms of their culture (cultural relativism)
Evidence for the effect of culture on cognitive development comes from a study of European and Aboriginal Australians, who were tested on their visual-spatial abilities. It was found that Aboriginies had much better abilities, which enabled them to find their way around the desert.
Children are influenced by the knowledge of previous generations that's given to them by caregivers, thus, passing down cultural attitudes and beliefs from one generation to another. Each child is said to inherit a number of cultural tools: technological (clocks, internet and other physical devices); psychological (concepts and symbols like language and theories) and values such as efficiency and power.
Vygotsky sees language as an extremely important tool to aid cognitive development, and proposed that one way in which others equip the child with strategies for thinking is through language. It's strongly linked to culture in addition to thought, so the very content of the culture is reflected in some way by thought.
According to Vygotsky, language and thought begin as separate and independent activities; in infancy, thinking occurs without language, and laguages occurs without thought. At around the age of 2, however, this pre-linguistic thought and pre-intellectual language join and form verbal thought and rational speech.
Vygotsky proposed that children acquire language through social interaction and then use it to structure and organise their own thinking and problem solving.
Vygotsky named self-talk, which is spoken out loud 'private speech' and said that it was used for self-guidance as young children go about solving problems. Private speech eventually becomes mostly silent, and this is known as 'internal speech.'
Before language infants use signs and symbols to create meaning. Vygotsky believe semiotics assisted cognitive development through the use of language and cultural tools. This acts as a medium that turns elementary functions into higher ones. It's thought that around the age of 2, language and thought becomes combined and depend on each other. Thinking becomes and internal conversation.
Three types of speech
Social speech (0-3 years) Pre-intellectual language such as babbling or gesturing
Egocentric speech (3-7 years) Child talks out loud as a way of thinking
Internal speech (7+ years) Where self-talk becomes silent and internal and language is used for social communication .
Vygotsky found that private speech increased in direct proportion to the amount of thought required for a task. Therefore, private speech is tied to thoughts as well as thinking.
investigated the role of language in problem solving. He found that 6 year olds spent an average 60% of their time talking to themselves when trying to solve a maths problem. This is empirical evidence for the concept of private speech.
There's evidence that as task difficulty increases, the amount of self-regulating speech also increases, supporting Vygotsky's theory that it aids problem solving.
Studies of children performing problem-solving tasks at about the age at which speech is internalised have found that the muscles involved in speech stil move, despite no sound being made. This supports the idea that self-regulating speech is still being used internally, as Vygotsky theorised.
Whereas Vygotsky believed that thinking is structured by language, Piaget believed that language is dependent upon thought, so for instance a child should begin talking about objects that aren't present in their surrounding only after object permanence has developed. Data consistent with this theory has been obtained in a number of studies.
Vygotsky carried out a study where children were presented with blocks of varying size and shape, with nonsense syllables printed on them according to these features. He then asked them to work out the meaning of each nonsense syllable, and produced a list of four stages of development based on the children's responses.
Vague Syncretic Stage
: The children didn't use any systematic approach to the problem and had little or no understanding of the size and shape of the blocks differing according to the syllables on them.
Basic strategies were used, but weren't successful in identifying the relationship between the syllables and features on the blocks.
Potential Concept Stage:
Systematic strategies were used, but the children only focused on one feature of the block at a time, for instance shape but not size or vice-versa.
Mature Concept Stage:
Children could successfully identify the relationship between the blocks and the syllables by using strategies and applying these to more than one feature of the blocks at a time.