As a teacher with a background in Child Development, I am well aware of the implications of Vygotsky’s research in the classroom. For example, his work on the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) states that children learn best when operating within the zone in which their knowledge and skills are supported. Simultaneously, students are pushed beyond their ZPD in order to be challenged and advance in their development. With this frame of reference I can devise learning experiences for my students that stretch their understanding and skills while still allowing them to feel successful.
I am also a strong believer in Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development, which say that human development is broken down into discrete stages and attributes a challenge, or “crisis”, to each one that members of that stage must overcome. For example, according to Erikson, a school age child is primarily battling the challenge of industry vs. inferiority. Successful mastery of this challenge is indicated by a sense of competence experienced by the child. As a teacher, combining this principle with Vygotsky’s, I search to scaffold experiences for my students to allow them to work hard and create an environment in which success through hard work is celebrated. Communicating high expectations to students and giving them the tools to be successful also play into my teaching philosophy.