Friday, September 25, 2009

Trisha Bingham's Understanding of ZPD

Vygotsky sure is a name you hear a lot here in the education department at IU. I first learned about Vygotsky in AP Psychology in high school. And then I went to college. I have been bombarded by Vygotsky and his theories for the past three years now. One of Vygotsky's most stressed ideas is the theory of a child's Zone of Proximal Developmentm or ZPD. Vygotsky thought that children had this range that one can measure or alter. Thi range is defined as being from what a child can do on his or her own to what a child can do with assistance. This assistance is formally known as scaffolding. Scaffolding is when a teacher acts as a guide through a learning experience and "scaffolds" the child's overall learning. This range can be alter by increasing the amount of scaffolding. With increased scaffolding, a child begins to learn more information. Then the child can do more on his or her own. Therefore the ZPD is altered to a new level with the child being able to do more without assistance.
Ever since I have learned this theory, I have only really focused on its content. Surprisingly I have not really thought about how this theory can apply to myself. I guess the first thing I would notice about my own experiences with ZPD go back to my first formal learning experiences. Although it's a little fuzzy in my head, I can somewhat remember kindergarten as a progressive alteration of my ZPD. I say this because I was still fairly young and needed assistance with most tasks within the classroom. I could draw, color, talk, maybe even read on my own. But when it came to writing or expressing myself, I needed a teacher's support. Then after a certain amount of time, that support was not needed because I had learned to complete the tasks on my own. I now see how this pattern has followed me throughout my educational career. However, I am not too sure that the idea of ZPD applies to my learning experiences now. I mean, sure, I need for a teacher to teach me certain content materials. Although I think most of us are at a point where we possess most of the necessary skills for the future. That's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

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