Analysis -the view from Vogotsky

In many respects this is a very good example of what social construction can look like in the primary cognitive acceleration classroom. Vygotsky (1978, 1986) described social construction in humans as a process of semiotic mediation: an interactive, dynamic exchange where knowledge is constructed through the manipulation of psychological tools. One of the most influential tools available to us for this process is language. Cognitive acceleration theory embraces both the work of Piaget and Vygotsky in the design of its pedagogical framework, which we described in Chapter 1 as resting on the three main ‘pillars’ of cognitive conflict (Chapter 2), social construction (this chapter) and metacognition (Chapter 4). Vygotsky emphasises the significance of social interaction as well as the development of cognition. The ‘Zone of Proximal Development’ (ZPD) is regarded as an educational application of Vygotsky’s social model of cognitive development (Daniels, 2001). The ZPD can be seen as the awaiting higher potential of an individual learner that can be activated through collaborative interactions with other peers and/or the teacher. ‘Scaffolding’ (Newman, Griffin & Cole, 1989), where the teacher carefully guides pupils into this zone through a build-up of questioning and other activities, has become a popular interpretation of this process. But this ‘scaffolding’ interpretation can be counterproductive in cognitive acceleration if it involves teacher questions and interventions to minimise a learner’s exposure to problems or challenges, thus reducing the lesson’s cognitive demand. The ZPD is any opportunity where more expert and less expert participants negotiate and transfer meaning. So, the verbal exchanges that we have with each other are a constant source of sharing, developing and refining collective knowledge, a space where transformation of our own understanding as well as that of the other participants can take place.

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