Teaching is mostly a social activity; it begins with social interactions between teachers, students and their peers through conversation and demonstration. The information received in these social interactions is then processed cognitively in their working memory and hopefully stored in their long term memory. This learning process has two main stages the social stage and the cognitive stage which then can be broken down into many other stages. Given that that social interaction and cognition are in my opinion the most fundamental parts of learning I have gained much interest in Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory. ‘The true direction of the development of thinking is not from the individual to the social but from the social to the individual’, (Vygotsky, 1986, p.36). This idea argues that the social relationship between the teacher and learner is crucial in their cognitive development and that the information learned by the student is not simply passed down from the teacher but it is constructed internally through mutual social interactions. The importance of social interaction means that as a teacher I must use every opportunity I can to allow students to be involved socially while building their knowledge. This will involve planning lessons which involve carefully guided class discussions. This allows students to express their views while the teacher can guide their thinking and correct them if needed. I believe learners mostly process new information by comparing it to previously stored information. In many cases the teacher may need to show the student how it is related to the new information by comparing it to what the student previously learnt. It is the teacher’s job to bridge the gap between known and unknown and I believe this is best described using Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. Vygotsky (1986) argues that it is the teacher’s job to assist the student to build on their previous knowledge rather than just provide them with new information,...
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Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and language. (A. Kozulin, trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (original work published 1934)
Zee, M., Koomen, H., & Van der Veen, I. (2013), Student–teacher relationship quality and academic adjustment in upper elementary school: The role of student personality, Journal of School Psychology.
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