When thinking about the different situations I have been in where I have referred to theories, Lev Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development Theory (ZPD) immediately sprung to mind. This theory captivates my attention and provides a solid basis for my teaching pedagogy and beliefs. The following video contains an explanation of how ZPD works.
Reflecting now, I look back to my first practical experience. I was teaching in a long day care centre and there was a little girl, about two years old that was fascinated with a puzzle (6 pieces) about farm animals. Each day, she would try and try to complete this puzzle but could never get the pieces in the correct spots. One day I placed a easier 2 piece puzzle on the table, it too had farm animals and struck her interest. As I sat with her, she manipulated the pieces to correctly complete the puzzle, she became excited and displayed a great sense of accomplishment and pride upon completion of the puzzle and continued to redo it several time.
The following day, I again placed the 2 piece puzzle out with another 4 piece farm animal puzzle. She immediately went for the 2 piece puzzle and easily completed it. She then attempted the 4 piece puzzle and after sever minutes completed it also, again displaying great excitement in her achievement.
The following day I again placed the 2 and 4 piece puzzles out. This day, she confidently walked over to the shelf and picked up the tricker 6 piece puzzle she was struggling to do in the beginning of the week. She sat focussed for about 10 minutes as she intently manipulated each piece of the puzzle. As I encouraged her to continue trying and discussed the pieces with her, she displayed more persistence to complete the puzzle. She did!
After that, she had developed a great sense of confidence with the puzzles and each day from then on continued to choose the challenging puzzle. With a little bit of support and encouragement, she is now able to complete a task she was unable to earlier in the week.
Until this event, I didn’t realise how much scaffolding experiences really does assist children in developing new skills and abilities that they are able to recall and reuse in a variety of experiences. This experience allowed me to further explore ZPD and how vital it is in educating for the future.
I now look at all of the further possibilities I can explore to ensure each child is gaining new skills and knowledge everyday. I continue to believe that Vygotsky’s theories remain one of the most vital keys to comprehensive and meaning education experiences.
Rodriguez, M (2014). Zone of Proximal Development. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Du6vqSOj7UU