Cognitive Development: Piaget and Vygotsky

Having taken psychology classes through high school, I am a bit familiar with Piaget and Vygotsky. Reading up on their theories through an educator lens, however, brought on new understandings, connections, and questions.

3 Things I Learned

First, I learned that when an individual enters teenagehood, their internal clock resets! Having been a teenager myself, this makes a lot of sense. Between the ages of 12 and 18 my resistance for sleep was at its strongest, nonetheless, I struggled to wake up in the mornings. Growing up, we were all told that we need to get proper sleep if we want to grow big and strong. Although most people usually finish growing in their teens, the importance of getting adequate sleep does not decrease. Teenagers need nine hours of sleep each night (31)! That is way more than I ever got.

Second, I learned that many middle school and high school students have trouble thinking hypothetically (46). To work around this, they resort to “superficial” ways of memorization. These strategies would include “lists” and “steps”; I even remember making songs and drawings that, while having nothing to do with the real question at hand, helped me remember the answers for a short while. As educators, we need to strive in providing students with better thinking strategies that will enable them to overcome “superficial” memorization. This brings me to my third lesson.

Third, I learned that we should not limit learning experiences to the “physical manipulation of objects” (56). To better students’ learning experience, we need to elaborate using mental manipulation. Furthering students’ thoughts and ideas can bring about new ways of thinking- such hypothetically thinking. Woolfolk and Corno suggest, “as a general rule, students should act, manipulate, observe, and then talk and/or write… about what they experienced” (56).

2 Connections I Made

The first connection I made go back to my high school psych class. I remember my high school psychology teacher showing us a documentary that explained the necessity of love. Babies especially need love for without it they literally will not survive. A similar scenario to this is the way simulation is a necessity to babies and children. A lack of stimulation can lead to over pruning of needed neurons and synapses (28).

A second connection I made relates to the ways anxiety can affect learning. The text discussed how anxious students may be so distracted by certain factors and elements around them that they struggle to focus on the lesson (33-34). As someone whos had social anxiety their whole life, I can take into account many times where my anxiety got in the way of my education- or even the sharing of my understanding for that matter.

1 Question I Have

What would emotional regulation strategies look like?

One thought on “Cognitive Development: Piaget and Vygotsky

  1. Hey Tiana!
    I made a very similar connection with Piaget’s theory about teenager’s inner clock reset. Especially in high school, where I was a total night owl (staying up all night) and then sleeping till 3 in the afternoon. It’s surprising to me to find out that it was completely normal in a way and yet very unhealthy. Even more interesting still, now as a 30 year old adult, my sleep schedule is the exact opposite. I also relate to your experiences with anxiety in the classroom, and I think a lot of people could. How can we change our own future classrooms to prevent our students from feeling the same way we did? I think if we could figure that out, many students education would benefit.


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