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NOTES: The Vygotsky Piaget - - great thinkers with opposing views
NOTES: Piaget and his theory of cognitive development.
NOTES: Vygotsky and his Theory of Learning.
Accommodation: Eventually the child after he/she has experienced the finger with its disappointing results, will learn to discriminate between a finger and a nipple. This change is accommodation. It represents neural growth. Accommodation, then is going from one wrung of the ladder to the next. H1>
And then a new view of the world is possible (assimilation). H1> The baby accepts any bottle until one day someone puts pink medicine in it that smells and looks different, and tastes bad! The baby now has a need to discriminate colors and smell. After doing so, (accommodation again) she/he will no longer accept bottles filled with pink, which are preceived as unsatisfying (assimilation). H1> Each experience, is like the "tick" of a clock, which marks off the progression of the child's development along the continuum of cognitive growth. H1> One can see that having needs to solve, and being able to solve them is a healthy process for cognitive growth. H1> Of course, needs that are traumatic and/or unsolvable are destructive and to be avoided if possible. More desirable are needs to learn how to manipulate toys etc. H1>
Whatever the experiences are, the more -ticks... that occur, the faster and farther the child will develop cognitively. H1> The child's progression along this continuum is somewhat mirrored, according to Piaget, in the context communications which involve either of two kinds of speech--Egocentric and Social H1> Of course, in the original state of cognition (Autistic) thoughts can not be represented linguistically. Obviously there is no language available at birth. H1> But to me, even after language has developed, there appear to be personal thoughts which cannot be put into language. This is the eternal draw of the other forms of symbolization such as music, art and dance etc. H1> By the age of two, however, speech has begun to emerge. Now there becomes a bridge into the mind of the child. H1> This speech bridge becomes a portal through which we can observe cognitive growth. This period represents Syncretistic thought processes. H1>
Syncretistic thought processes carry much of the quality of autistic thought. Obviously at this point there is more interest in the environment.
Another good example is that of a four year old child who wanted to be in the room with the adults after bedtime. Five minutes after the mom said goodnight, the child came creeping into the living room with his hands over his eyes. H1> In his egocentric thought processes, he concluded that if he couldn't see the adults, they couldn't see him. H1> That reminds me that I used to listen to a radio broadcast called the "Shadow" in which an adult made the same assumption. He was lucky he didn't get killed. H1> Syncretistic thought produces what Piaget calls Egocentric Speech. In egocentric speech, since the child is the center of the universe, the assumption is that people will understand what is said no matter how it is said, because "what the child knows, everyone knows." H1> Hence, in egocentric speech there is no effort made to tailor the speech so that it can be understood by a particular listener. H1> In many instances also, since syncretistic thought is self centered, the speech is not even an effort to communicate but is made for the pure enjoyment of the speaker.
Children do it all the time when their playing, teenagers do it when they are rapping, and adults do it, especially when they have been drinking. H1> In the notes you can hear an example of teenagers doing it. This is a short excerpt from the TV series (one of the few worthwhile ones) called "My So Called Life." H1> One teen is talking about a teacher who misused his name, and the other is talking about a girl who asked him to help her with Algebra.
After a short while her daughter came over to speak to me. H1>
The first thing that impressed me about the little girl is that she first assessed my cultural background and selected her English Code (pragmatics) to speak to me. H1> In that code she selected the words that expressed her thought (semantics) and put them in the proper syntax (grammar); and with clearly enunciated speech sounds (phonemics) she said, "Can I have my doll?" H1>
It was a verbalization with a clear intent to communicate a message and I immediately complied. Now, if you are wondering why I had her doll, that is an anecdote for the final chapter of another class including a condensed discussion of Freudian Psychology as interpreted by Speech Professors, entitled Freud in a Nut Shell.
Piaget suggests that an indication of mental maturity can be gained by computing a ratio of the incidences of Egocentric to Social Speech. To understand what happens next, one must consider how Vygtsky viewed language. Before language, the child had two developing skills: speech (a motor act) and thought (a non verbal process of problem solving). Speech without thought (A) was just a motor act. An example would be a child repeating the phrase, "Sing a song of six pence, a pocket full of rye."
So how and when does this merger of thought and speech occur? H1> The child, before the advent of language is prone to be an individual who responds directly to stimuli. H1> When he is hungry he wants to eat now. If he is angry, he will cry and strike out. If he wants something, he will take it (if he can), etc. H1> During this time, speech like other cognitive and motor skills is steadily developing. We are talking here between two and seven years of age. H1>
Quickly, parents are using speech to control the child's behavior. "Come here, Edward," they say, or "Put your shoes on." H1> Whether this acts as a model, or whether it's a genetic trait, the child begins to control his/her own behavior using speech. H1> Like all motor skills that are newly learned, it has to be physically acted out. Hence the child speaks out loud. H1> If you watch children play, for example, you will often hear them give a running discourse of what they are doing. An example is in the notes. H1> This discourse is the egocentric speech that Piaget was describing. They are speaking their movements. "Now I'm going in the house," a child might say referring to a playhouse. "Now I'm feeding the baby." H1>
As the child becomes more adept at controlling their behavior verbally, the need to physically act out the speech act diminishes, as verbal imagery takes it's place. Hence the quality of the egocentric speech likewise diminishes. H1> This was described by Piaget, you remember, as a dying out of egocentric speech as the thought processes mature. H1>
To Vygotsky, however, egocentric speech was the internalization of speech to become a verbal way of thinking--called language. H1> But there was one more twist to account for the apparent degeneration of egocentric speech. H1> Vygotsky explains that we don't think with a full-blown sentence structure. That would be too cumbersome. Hence, we create our own personal verbal short-hand for our thinking processes. But when someone says, -A penny for your thoughts,... we rush to create the full context which we will use to communicate. H1> The creation of the verbal short hand begins as the child is internalizing speech to become verbal thought. H1> This short hand is actually reflected in the egocentric speech of the child and hence, makes it appear to be disintegrating.
So who is right, Piaget or Vygotsky? I don't think that it has to be an either-or situation with these theories. H1>
Frankly, I can think of a third use for egocentric speech, which I have observed in two and three year old children. H1> That is, speech for practice. I have heard children repeating certain vocabulary and/or grammatical phrases which they have recently learned. H1>
I have even heard young children practicing substituting different words into a grammatical structure. The child might say, "Wash the baby; wash the dolly; wash the dog; wash the frog; wash the bird;" etc. This verbal play serves the same purpose, I believe, as practicing shooting baskets achieves for a basketball player. H1> Hence, I believe that on some occasions, the child may be exhibiting egocentric speech for practice purposes as I described. H1> At other times it is a phenomenon generated by the syncretistic thought processes, as Piaget conceives of it. H1> And still at other times, egocentric speech may be the "tip of the iceberg" providing us with a fleeting glimpse of speech being internalized to become verbal thought as Vygotsky suggests. H1> Speaking of the thought processes, there is another major difference between Piaget and Vygotsky. Piaget stresses that concepts must be developed first, before speech can be mapped on to it to attain meaning. H1> Vygotsky suggested that speech can be used to create concepts. H1> Simply stated Piaget stresses concept development before speech. Vygotsky urges the use of speech to develop concepts. Again, I don't believe it is an either or situation. Both aspects deserve our consideration and research suggests the child does both simultaneously. H1> Piaget describes four qualitatively different periods or stages of intellectual growth, which we pass through. H1>
According to Piaget these stages can not be skipped, although some researchers disagree with this. H1> But Piaget does say that the time schedule for passing through the stages can be facilitated by experience. H1> Piaget also notes that there is no guarantee that an individual will pass through all of the stages. In most cases (not all) it takes formal instruction in high school and college to break into the highest stage. H1> I do know a grandmother, however, who never finished the 6th grade. She reads vehemently, nevertheless, and has a vast reserve of concepts which helps her to see the world in as many dimensions as a college graduate. H1>
Piaget's four stages of intellectual development are:
During this period very many basic concepts about the world are acquired; and indeed, some in particular are essential to the development of language.
1. Self-Concept: One of the first major concepts that must be developed is the understanding of ourselves as discrete individuals separated from the world. Three activities come to my mind to facilitate this development. They are the three M's: message, movement and mirrors. H1>
Message: Much touching and rubbing of the child's legs and arms and back, etc. is going to hasten the development of a body map in the child's brain. This will help to increase his/her awareness of body limits. H1> Movement: Encouraging the baby to get down on the floor and explore and thrash and roll and crawl and manipulate objects will hasten the development of a body motor map in the child's brain. H1> Mirrors: Having mirrors available for young infants (and older) to see themselves is also a excellent practice. Visual feedback is helpful for the development of any motor skill, but when the child finally recognizes themselves in the mirror, they have attained a special level of awareness reached by few living creatures--recognition of self! This is a wonderful phenomenon for a partent to observe. H1>
2. Cause and Effect: Much of what language is, is a description of cause and effect. The structure of English reflects this. Someone (the noun phrase) has caused something to happen to someone else (the verb phrase--kernel sentence type II). Hence, the understanding of cause and effect is critical to language use and understanding. H1>
The best way I can see to facilitate the concept of cause and effect is to optimize opportunities for interactions with the environment. H1> The first big lesson can be started when the child is very young, like from 30 seconds to a year. H1> Every baby will have some basic needs and will communicate them orally, often at 3:00 in the morning. H1> In my opinion, no matter what time of day or night it is, we want to respond to the baby's crying! We want the baby to experience the fact that vocalization (the cause) brings an effect (comfort). H1> Yes, it is more convenient for parents if the child can be quickly molded to their schedule; but raising babies for the convenience of the parents is not the way to raise babies with good feelings about communication. H1> Granted, after one year, many smart babies begin to use crying with wily intent and parents have to use their discretion to maintain their autonomy. H1> The more interactions the child has with the parents and other extended family, the more the role of cause and effect in our lives can be demonstrated to the child. H1> It would seem here also that the more objects the child is allowed to come in contact with (toys in particular) the more opportunity there will be for the infant (child) to explore the phenomenon of cause and effect. The toys don't have to be elaborate or expensive to be effective! H1> They may be just household objects, like just a piece of cloth or a blanket, which the child will turn into a myriad of make-believe toys. Of course, parents must monitor the flow of these objects so the child is not inundated with them all at once. H1> These interactions with people, objects are literally the child's tools of the trade for developing language. H1> The more tools children have for learning in these first two years, the better students of concept and language development they will be. H1>
3. Object Permanence: A symbol is not a call to action. It is a call to bring information about something into the mind. H1>
More often, that something is not present at the time, or may not even exist (like Santa Clause). H1> This all rests on the basic concept of "Object Permanence"--the understanding that something can exist even if it is not in our presence. H1> Piaget's classic example is an infant who wants an object, like a bottle or keys. H1> If the keys are put within the infant's reach so he can get them, all is fine. But if the bottle is put in the infant's reach in a manner such that it is masked (like under a pillow) one of two things may happen. H1> The infant will either simply just cry; or the infant will pursue the bottle under the pillow. In the former case, the infant is demonstrating a lack of the concept of object permanence. For him the bottle has gone. In the latter case, the infant retains the image of the bottle and knows it still exists under the pillow even if he can't see it; and wanting it, he goes after it. H1> This demonstrates an awareness of object permanence.
Patty-Cake and Peek-a-boo are also excellent activities for very young infants to facilitate the development of object permanence. Endless variants of these games can be created. H1>
4. Symbolic Behavior: This is more of a process than it is a concept. It is, nevertheless, an important activity that we look for and try to facilitate in the first two years. Playing games in which an object represents something else is the name of the game here. It is interesting that you might buy a child an expensive elaborate toy house, only to find them playing house in an old carboard box. But the box becomes a symbol for a house; and a peice of wood a symbol for a bed; and so on. In the child's developing mind, the symbolic processes cry to be exercised and find their expression in playtime. H1>
The Pre-Operational Stage (2- 7 years): Piaget has much to say about this second stage. For our purposes we will zero in on the fact that it is the time of life when the child climbs on to the Linguistic Band Wagon. It is a window of opportunity that does not stay open permanently. As the child approaches puberty, if he/she has not gained some form of language, the ability to do so ends! H1>
There is a slogan that sticks out in my mind about this period. H1> It is, "A Child Should Be Seen and Not Heard." What a disastrous concept. Can you imagine how well we would learn archery if we were taught by being told to watch only, but not to practice it? H1> Of course, children, being the language geniuses that they are could do it. But that is in spite of us. How much better they can do with our help! And how do we help during this period? H1> The key is adult to child dialogue! Parents who talk to their children a lot and encourage them to respond verbally will have children with advanced speech skills; and hence advanced language skills; an hence advanced thought processes. The reason is quite obvious. When parent talk to their children, they provide rich models for all the language rules we have discusses: phonology, morphology, syntax and pragmatics. They even provide special help in the way of using motherese talk (using short sentences with special prosody) as described in the text. H1> They repeat and slightly rephrase or extend what the child has said, thus providing the best models for the child's language acquisition device, to coin a phrase of Chomsky's. H1> Hence, the child might say, "Daddy come." Mother might then say, "Daddy's coming," a rephrase, or "You see Daddy coming," a slight extension. H1> This intense adult-child interaction will make the language processes seem to grow significantly by the day. H1> As always, the other BIG GUN for developing language is READING to the child. Again, the vocabulary and syntax contained I books is richer than included in oral dialogues. The child may wish to read the same books many times and this is good for the reasons we discussed under eidetic imagery. H1> The child will have more time to extract the linguistic principles; and will develop expectancies which will improve his/her listening skills. This will improve their enjoyment which will increase their motivation to use language. H1>
Concrete Operations Stage (7 - 11 years): One hallmark of this stage is the concept of Conservation. Up to this time, in the Pre-Operational Stage, the parents had it easy with the Kids. For example, if you poured a child a glass of juice and it wasn't enough to suit him, you simply poured the contents into a narrower but taller glass. This usually satisfied the need for more. H1>
This worked because at the pre-operational stage the child is barely able to abstract one bond, which in my example is the height. H1>
The concreteness of the thought processes in this stage means that they are dealing mostly with palpable worldly objects. These are things that can be seen or felt in some way. H1> This would relate to the percept level of Kephart where adults are very busy helping the child to divide the world up into horses, shovels, houses, cars, etc. all with symbols attached. H1> As it was in the Pre-Operational Stage, adult-child communication is the key to rapid speech and language development, although the focus is less on structure and more on semantics. H1>
Formal Operational Stage (11 years to the "sky is the limit"):
One of the skills that humans become awesome at is manipulating the world in their minds, without any actual touching turning or moving of worldly objects. This is not an inborn ability, but must be developed over time. The leap from Concrete to Formal Operations is basically that of moving from thought processes that depend upon physical manipulation to those that are free of it. H1> Now concepts that cannot be easily identified by pointing to something or by manipulating something can readily be developed. H1> Concepts like "the Universe" or "atomic structure" can best be manipulated in our minds by their symbolic labels, including words and numbers. Hence, symbols can take us on unbelievable adventures. We can witness the beginning of the Universe; we can witness the beginning of the Universe; we can follow the development of life on the planet over millions of years; we can study the genetic code of life; we can see the beginning and end of the solar system; and on and on. H1>
To reach this stage typically takes much study. This is the contribution of high school and college and beyond. Some individuals can do it on their own while most others (my self included) need the direction offered by formal educators. But it is language that makes it all possible. H1> We will now look at the biggest plank in the language Bridge--memory. H1>
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