Learning and cognitive development
Basic approaches to the problem of learning and development
The problem of development of cognitive abilities
The problem of the development of human cognitive abilities - one of the central in educational psychology. If we do not go into detail, describing a huge number of individual theories, and formulate the main directions, then two opposing approaches are presented, represented by two groups of theories.
The most common group of such development theories focuses attention on the fact that the formation of man's knowledge of the world occurs gradually and depends on the action with objects, their displacements in space, the study of the environment. These actions with objects form the perception of the features of objects and the relationships between them, which serves as the basis for the formation of such a concept as units of the thought process (J. Berkeley, W. James, G. Helmholtz, etc.).
Another approach postulates the opposite. Its main idea boils down to the fact that knowledge is improved not on the basis of action and perception, but according to its own laws. The initial concepts form the core of most of the later concepts. Enriching, detailed as the child accumulates experience, they ensure the progress of knowledge and are never discarded as unnecessary. This approach leads its pedigree from the works of Plato, R. Descartes, I. Kant.
In modern psychology, the above approaches are referred to respectively as "empirical" and naivistic. The empirical originates from the primacy of experience, considering that it is the development that determines it, the naivistic approach assigns the decisive role of the given tendency, which is innate and unfolds as the child develops its psyche. Despite the fact that modern theories of cognitive development do not contain such rigid oppositions, the relationship between innate tendencies and the role of experience in cognitive development usually shifts to one of the two named determinants.
As a different angle of consideration of this issue, a look at the problem of the relationship between learning and development in the child's cognitive development is examined. In the previous chapters, we considered options for answering this question from representatives of different psychological theories of learning. In this chapter, let's take a brief look at this in order to recreate the general context of representations.
Basic theories of cognitive development
Behaviorists claimed that learning is development. Denial of any innate pre-disposition, actual identification of learning processes in humans and animals, negation of age differences in cognitive development were the result of the absolutization of the stimulus-reaction principle. The laws of conditioning, consolidation, generalization and extinction, in their opinion, not only explain the behavior of people and animals, children and adults, but also provide the key to understanding the process of the cognitive sphere of man.
The theory of Jean Piaget described fundamentally differently the processes of cognitive development. One of the main differences is age determination of cognitive development. Development is due to the fact that children actively interact with the world, intensively adapting newly received information to those concepts that they already have. Therefore, Piaget stressed that education must be based on the already achieved level of development.
At the core of Vygotsky's concept is a rigid opposition between natural and higher mental functions. The latter are socially determined and constitute the essence of human consciousness. Due to the fact that according to LS Vygodsky, the mind has a social nature, the development of the cognitive sphere of the child does not come from the individual to the society, but, on the contrary, from the society to the individual. This concept is related to his main thesis - "learning leads to development."
This problem is treated somewhat differently in the framework of the theory of activity. While LS Vygodsky allowed biological determinism in the early stages of human development, in the theory of AN Leontiev's activity, all mental processes are nothing more than the internalized external activity of a child under the guidance of an adult. This idea is most developed in the theory of the step-by-step formation of mental actions of P. Ya. Galperin. In his concept, training is almost the only source of cognitive processes. In the opinion of P. Ya. Galperin, in the process of teaching the child it is necessary to form an orienting basis for the action in each of the areas of knowledge. If this complete orienting basis of actions is formed, then, in the mental plan, their structurally-ordered reflection will replace the undivided perception of objects. In connection with this, the legitimate question arises: why does a child so easily acquire the ability to cognize the world before receiving a systematic education, he himself forms the concept of the surrounding world, freely and easily orientated in it.
In modern theories of cognitive development, the importance of both developmental processes and learning is recognized. For successful cognitive development of the child, his ability to organize and selective information is necessary, but the development of methods and methods of processing it obeys the laws proposed by the outside world. As MA Holodnaya notes: "The child creates the ideas of the world himself, passing spontaneously the stages of qualitative changes in his understanding." J. Bruner revised J. Piaget's theory of the influence of LS Vygodsky's ideas. This was especially evident in his concept of language development. However, according to J. Bruner, social interactions do not directly mediate cognitive development, as in Vygotsky's theory. The approach of J. Bruner does not presuppose a rigid fixation of periods of cognitive development. All three spheres of representation are equally important and retain their importance in an adult. The level of intellectual achievements of man is provided by a qualitatively unique combination of three spheres of representations: actions, images, words. This theoretical approach to the problem of cognitive development has a lot of supporters among modern specialists in the field of educational psychology, so let us dwell on it in more detail.
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