The Zone of Proximal Development encompasses the space between the actual developmental level and the level of potential development as a result of guided teaching. A child's actual developmental level is based on what she already knows. Through life experiences she has learned quite a bit and through independent problem solving her actual developmental level is affected. The ZPD shows what she is capable of on her own and where she should be in the future after being guided by a teacher. I like the idea of of underdeveloped functions as "buds," in the "embryonic state." The ZPD evolves with the child; eventually, with guidance, a student's ZPD will become her actual developmental level. As teachers, being aware of the ZPD will help us understand where are students are now and where they could potentially be after working with them.
When I started elementary school, I had a lot of experience reading with my family and on my own. But when I began reading in the classroom, the speed of my learning increased. With only a year or two of guidance, I had significantly improved my skills. It is inspiring to see how far we can come with a little expertise and keeps me interested in furthering my education because although we can learn a lot on our own, being open to learning from others will take us further on our quest for knowledge.