Tuesday, September 29, 2009


The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) according to Vygotsky is the difference between a child’s actual development and their potential development. Actual development is determined by standardized test and potential development is determined by what a child can grasp with the help from a teacher or any other adult. Today’s potential development is tomorrow’s actual development. This was first introduced in educational psychology, P251, by a great teacher Alex Scott. ZPD is good because children can reach the most potential of learning by problem solving with an adult or higher level peer. When I think of ZPD I also think of scaffolding because scaffolding helps children build knowledge. They work off of stuff they already know and build on it to reach new concepts, which is like moving from actual development to potential development.
The concept of ZPD can be seen before preschool. When babies are first learning to talk, they repeat what others say. When learning to be potty trained, they often watch their parents. For the longest time my nephew thought he was supposed to sit down to pee because he followed my sister everywhere and my brother in-law worked a lot and was not around as much. From there the concepts go from life skills into school skills. When a child is learning math and they go home and are working on homework, the parents show them how they learned to solve problems. The children pick up these skills and repeat them, even though math is more advanced in the problem solving techniques than they used to be. I remember working on math homework as a child and asking my mom for help. She tried to help me but just confused me more by showing me how she did the problem because I learned it a different way.
I think we use ZPD while teaching our lessons to the kids on Fridays. When a child does not understand something, often times another child can show them how they did the problem and it is easier for the child to repeat the problem. Some of the kids are more mathematically advanced than the other children and for some children it is easier to understand a problem when another child describes how to do it. This was the case for me in high school in my math class. The teacher confused me on a certain concept, and my best friend helped me study for the test and I was able to get an A because she explained it to me in a way that was easier for me to understand.

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