Piaget V Vygotsky Essay

Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget were two theorists who studied and analyzed human development - Piaget V Vygotsky Essay introduction. Although their theories were different, each man had an idea of how the child develops and different cognitive and social processes that allow this to happen. Through thorough observation, the theorists were able to use studies as well as knowledge to come up with their own interpretations of child development that have both been used widely throughout the world. While Vygotsky took a more social constructivist approach, Piaget took a cognitive constructivist approach.

Each theorist gave great insight to their theories and allowed others to follow in the findings as well as adapt their theories to enhance the current knowledge of child development. Piaget has been able to influence a lot of educational theorists and his theory has been very popular. He believed that children cannot learn nor do certain things until they are mature enough and ready to do so. Being a cognitive constructivist, which is about how the individual learner understands things, in terms of developmental stages and learning styles, Piaget believed that there are stages of the cognitive development by which children mature and develop.

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The first stage is the sensori- motor stage. During this stage, children are from birth to the age of 2. This children start to look at their world around them and realize that things may exist that they cannot see. They also begin to do things such as hit a ball because it rolls, or ring a bell because it makes a sound. The next stage is called the pre-operational stage. These 2-7 year olds learn language and how to use it towards objects they already know. They begin to become extremely egocentric and don’t often listen to others. The third stage is called the concrete operational stage where the children are 7-11 years old.

These children start to logically think about different things as. The last stage is the Formal operational stage which includes ages 11 and up. During this phase, children start to become logical and think rationally about the world. He begin to understand more thoroughly the sense of abstractness and become idealistic. Piaget studied and evaluated hundreds of children, allowing them to act freely and make their own mistakes. After review, he concluded that these children were finding their own errors and being able to fix them on their own.

This proves that children can form their own learning from previous interaction and experiences. Children, in Piaget’s eyes, are not “empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge”, they are in fact “active builders of knowledge who create their own learning and their own world. (Jean Piaget, 2001). As Piaget was able to justify his beliefs with findings and studies, so was another man named Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky was a social constructivist, which emphasizes how meanings and understandings grow out of social encounters.

Vygotsky is well known for his ZPD or Zone of Proximal Development. This Zone is the distance between the actual development level and the level at which a child will be able to achieve the goal with the help of a higher learner. He believed that children would develop better through interactions and speaking with their peers. If a child is watching their friend do something or their friend such as raise their hand or even go to the bathroom, the child then uses their abilities to copy and obtain this new information.

Vygotsky also believed that children gained new ways of learning and doing other things by social interactions with higher learners. For example, if a child sees their mother putting on lipstick every morning, eventually that child will learn how to put on lipstick. It is a common case of monkey see monkey do. In Vygotsky’s Theory of ZPD, the children are able to do things, however, with the help of a more experienced and higher learner. This is not a permanent stage, however, it is a cognitive stage where children must pass in order to become higher learners.

Children will eventually be able to do these things on their own therefore we must know what is in the child’s ZPD. For example, a two year old child may be able to grab a crayon with their hand and hold it. Their ZPD may be scribbling with that crayon on a surface. Something that may be out of their reach would be coloring in the lines with that crayon. This is why the ZPD is important and should be viewed according to Vygotsky. Both Piaget and Vygotsky have left lasting theories and impressions on today’s educational society.

Both theories seem to have valid points as well as research to back up their theories. Neither Vygotsky or Piaget have an inaccurate theory, however, it seems that these theories may complement each other. By more research and findings don’t on today’s society, there can be new theories found that may coincide or refute these two. This being said, Piaget and Vygotsky will always be integral theorists whose knowledge and findings will greatly assist others in the understanding of child development.


Atherton, J. S. (2005). Learning and Teaching: Constructivism in learning [On-line] UK: Available: http://www. learningandteaching. info/learning/constructivism. htm#Vygotsky Atherton, J. S. (2005) Learning and Teaching: Piaget’s developmental theory [On-line] UK: Available: http://www. learningandteaching. info/learning/piaget. htm Jean Piaget: Champion of Children’s Ideas, Early Childhood Today, 10701214, Feb2001, Vol. 15, Issue 5 Vanderburg, R. M. (2006). Reviewing Research on Teaching Writing Based on Vygotsky’s Theories: What We Can Learn. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 22(4), 375 – 393

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