Changing Understanding Of Cognitive Development Since Piaget Education Essay

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"Cognitive development and its cultural and social foundation,(Luria,A.R.,1976), this title itself shows the inclination of the author to see culture as a context for cognitive development .This approach very much rooted in the Vigotsikian framework of cognitive development . So to see it in contrast with Vygotskian framework is bit challenging. Since this theory also see cognition in words of A.R.Luria as it shows deep conviction in the Marxist, Lenin thesis, that 'all fundamental human cognitive activities take shape in matrix of social history and form the products of socio-historical development'.Vigotsky in contrast to Pavlov and all, who establish the material basis for elementary psychological processes but not able to explain the complex psychological functions that traditionally formed another concern of psychology such as voluntary memory, abstract problem solving and creative imagination. In his cognitive psychology Vygotsky chose mediation as the elementary characteristic of human consciousness. Since human being unlike animals, is able to make mediating links between incoming stimulation and his responses and this response generates during the interaction with environment hence these changes influence human behavior. In his theory Vygotsky retain the principle of the material reflex as the basis of behavior and also to analyze human psychology functions as instances of complex, mediated , mental acts. So in this theory the active involvement of mind not merely the conditioning, is responsible for the cognitive development. Vygotsky who proposed theory for social cognition gave great emphasis on social and cultural context and the interaction with the adult as important element for cognitive development. And put language in central for the mediation and system of sign. Vygotsky believed that it is adults and Child's peers, which have the responsibility of sharing their greater collective knowledge with the younger generations .His theory also gives interesting concept of Zone of Proximal Development.Vigotsky explained that every culture use language as system of symbolic representation which is kind of corpus for any society and culture and every generation pass over it to next generation .And being a member of any culture a child learn how to use all those symbols to interact with society and to understand the knowledge hence it play a great role in the process of cognitive development of a child .and makes the thinking possible. He recognized three category of language i.e Social ,Egocentric and inner .Vygotsky viewed learning in two type of concept "scientific" and "spontaneous" concept. Spontaneous concepts are the result of everyday personal experience in the absence of systematic instruction so there such concept could false .though they unscientific in nature but these concepts also play an important role children's life. In contrast to spontaneous concepts, scientific concept represent the generalization of the of the experience of human kind. And once these scientific concepts being acquired they transform student everyday life knowledge. And acquisition of these scientific concepts creates the "zone of proximal development" of spontaneous concept. He explain this ZPD in relation with instruction and cognitive development ZPD, explain a very important aspect of his theory of learning or cognitive development in which he see learning as a interaction and also more importantly it presuppose an interaction on a task between a more competent and less competent person .and with help of adult this less competent person can his potential. Vygotsky believed the concept of 'ZPD' recommended a better move towards education and allowed a better understanding of the learning process. Through the concept of ZPD he added new element to the sphere of cognitive development and learning.Therefore his theory of learning has an appeal that teaching instruction should built around teaching student scientific knowledge that consists of method of scientific analysis in different subject domain instead of empirical learning to develop their spontaneous concept to deal with subject domain problem. (Karpov, 2003.Pp-78).In this theory the concept of mediation explains the development of mental process in children, especially to the role of language. But they stressed that mantle development is a product of historical process in which child's social and nonsocial environment stimulate the child's development in every aspect .So their emphasis on social and nonsocial surrounding makes it mandatory to take this aspect in congruence while addressing the cognitive development. This historical aspect of mental development sees a parallel between socio-cultural and individual's development. This approach of Luria try to show the role of socio-historical roots of all basic cognitive process and therefore it claims that structure of thought depend on the structure of the dominant type of activity in different culture. This thinking was also influenced by the Soviet psychology, which had rejected the view that consciousness represent an intrinsic property of mantle life, invariably present in every mantle state and independent of historical development This school of thought maintained that consciousness is the highest form of reflection of reality and it is not 'given' but shaped by activity and used by human being to orient themselves to their environment not only in adapting to condition but in restructuring them. But at the same time this approach put great emphasis on impact of the social-cultural surrounding since according to this approach, social form determines the mental development of human being. Children learn to live in a world which social labor has created and a child learn to communicate with others and develop relationship with things, ideas with the help of adult and peers .Child assimilate language , a readymade product of sociohistorical development in his everyday life from the surrounding by analyzing, generalizing, categorize things , encoding experience , by naming things , denoting them with expression which are established in the culture .Since language is not simply consist the unit of word but those unite have certain meaning with context of time and space .So when a child learns this language it shapes the mantle development with all those meaning. S/he rethink relationship between child and adult, behavior with people who are not immediate family member, develops emotional responses and affective categories which through language become generalized emotions and character traits .And all these contribute to the cognitive development through the very process of human activity.Luria shows with help of example of problem solving from different cultures ,how people are solving the problem. Even the attitude towards the problems is very much shaped by the cultural practices. The peoples from a rural setup are not willing to indulge in hypothetical and theoretical operation which is part of school knowledge. They are comfortable with practical knowledge and practical experience and concerns with reality. So this is clear example of Sociohistorical evolution of the mind and attitude of mind.Model of cognitive development proposed by Piaget which influenced heavily the area of learning theories , believed that child's cognitive development consist of four stages which comes in sequences and this sequence of how children experience the stages is universal. But he acknowledged the rate at which each child moved through these stages was flexible and relative upon factors such as maturity, social influences, and other factors so he therefore attached little importance to the age associated with them. Second, his stages simply represent increasingly comprehensive ways of thinking .children are constantly exploring manipulating, an trying to make sense out of the environment and in this process they actively construct new and more elaborate structure for dealing with it(Kohlberg in Crain,1992 ). And therefore this theory believes that children should not be forced into learning the knowledge of the next stage until the child was cognitively ready. This theory sees learning as a constructive act and supports a discovery model of learning.Piaget was the first to reveal that children reason and think differently at different period in their lives. He believed that all children progress through four and very distinct stages of cognitive development as , sensorimotor ,preoperational ,concrete operational and formal operational He explained learning as dual process assimilation and accommodation enable the child to form schema and with each stage their come a new method for organizing knowledge together with acquisition of new schema .According to Piaget "in this sequence the child moves from physical action that emanate from the sensorimotor scheme of infancy to symbolic in- the head mental processing during the preoperational period. These mental processes eventually evolve into system of mental action, or operation. The operation are applied first to concrete, present object event (concrete operation) and later to mental operation themselves, the thoughts about thoughts of formal operations"(Flavell, 2002) .But Piaget see all this process the development of knowledge is as active process and depends upon interaction between child and the environment .The child is neither the processor of a preformed set of mental abilities nor a passive recipient of stimulation from the environment. They simply represent increasingly comprehensive way of thinking .Children are constantly exploring, manipulating and trying to make sense of the environment and in this process they actively construct new and more elaborate structure of dealing with it. But the same time he did not believe that children thinking is shaped by adult teaching or other environmental inference .Children must interact with environment to develop but it is they ,not external environmental who build new cognitive structure.So in Piagetian theory the learning and cognitive development are in interactive relation with each other and do not depend entirely on external environment .But since Piaget see that it is child not the adult or environment inference which shaped the thinking it is cognitive structure which helped the learning .The concept of schema explain it very clearly that cognitive structure and child's own agency has first role to play to gain learning.But we can observe a shift in this understanding about cognitive development recent studies shows that what Piaget has argued can be questioned and there are evidences shows that cognitive changes across the childhood may be less stagelike and dramatic than Piaget imagined. Researcher like Flavell shows that a infant also has representational mind and child is mentally able to represent objects and this is one of the greatest achievements of the young thinker. Children can speculate object and events when they no longer are present .This really need the ability to abstract and very significantly this representation support concept of the physical and social world, reasoning, problem solving, remembering and language acquisition and use of a variety of symbol and other representations. He also claims that preschoolers are very much capable for forming the concepts that organize the world into the meaningful categories .In contrast to the earlier view of the perception-bound young child these, early concept do not dependent solely on perceptual appearance but often reflect deeper, less obvious relation among the members of the categories .(Flavell,2002).Researches also showing that that child's cognitive performance is somewhat uneven across different domain and young children are more competent and older children has less competent than Piaget thought ,so this makes the age differences less dramatic.Piaget compared children thinking with formal operational hypthetico-deductive reasoning recent research approaches looking at the role of knowledge and context in reasoning much more than Piaget did so highlighting the new areas of children's abilities and cognition. Post Piagetian researches believed that adult often are less rational than Piaget believe and children are more rational than he believe. Piaget focused on domain specific reasoning. Researches now showing human being do reasoning on the basis of similarity and reason about the new situation on basis of prior experiences .But for Piaget children do acquire analogical reasoning only in formal operational period of adolescence .In the same fashion preschooler also competent in doing causal reasoning .They understand causal relation among events in their everyday life and this reasoning continues to develop through adolescence and even adulthood. And the element of scientific thinking is a part of child's reasoning also as is it of adult's .And both adult and child share the similarity and differences in their scientific thinking."