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Vygotsky sociocultural development

Created by Shreena Desai.

Video transcript

Voiceover: All right, the next theory that we're going to take a look at is Vygotsky's Theory of Development, which is also the Sociocultural Theory of Development. So building upon the importance of social interaction, Vygotsky studies the role that social interaction plays in the development of cognition. So he was really focused on the social interaction between children, which are obviously growing, so he focused on children and their growth development, the interactions they had with those around them, in the development of their cognition and their higher order learning. Now Vygotsky actually, unfortunately, passed away at a very young age; he was only 38, so much of his theory was left unfinished. But from what we do know of what he did discover and what he did theorize, gives us a lot of insight into this theory of development. So Vygotsky developed this theory and he said that babies had elementary mental functions, and there are four of them. So these elementary mental functions, I'm gonna just right short-hand M F for mental function. So he said there were four of them. One of them is attention. So we have attention; we have sensation, as babies remember. We have perception, and we also have memory. So these are the four elementary mental functions that babies have. Now eventually through interaction with their environment, the socio-culture environment, these elementary mental functions are developed into more sophisticated and effective mental processes or strategies. And this is what we call our higher mental functions. So much of our important learning that a child goes through occurs through the social interaction with a skillful tutor. So whether it's their teacher, their parents someone older. So this tutor acts as a model, and they model their behaviors, or they provide verbal instruction for the child. So the child often tries to understand the actions or instructions provided by the tutor, often the parent or the teacher. And then they internalize it. And they use to that to actually guide and regulate their own performance. So let's take a little trip down memory lane, memory lane. Think about when you were a little kid, and when you were given your first puzzle to put together. I remember when I had my first puzzle, and I was trying to solve it all alone; I had a really hard time. But I also remember my dad sitting right next to me and describing and demonstrating some basic techniques and tips and strategies to solve it. So he first told me to put, or actually find all the corner and edge pieces and to separate those from the middle pieces. And he gave me a couple pieces to put together and kept on encouraging me as I went along. So eventually, I became more competent, and my father didn't have to sit next to me, and he was just able to watch me solve the puzzle. I was able to learn I was actually able to work more independently. So higher mental functions are characterized more by independent learning and thinking. But that can only be cultivated by the elementary mental functions, which involve a tutor or someone older who acts as a guide through which we model our behavior. So according Vygotsky, this type of social interaction involves cooperative and collaborative dialogue, and that's what promotes this cognitive ability or development. So, in this example I was telling you about, my dad was an MKO, which is a more knowledgeable other. So this is the first key term that I want you to know. MKO stands for more knowledgeable other. So this is one term that Vygotsky defined. So the more knowledgeable other is basically someone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, which, in this example, was me. I was the learner. So this MKO has a higher level of, of understanding and ability with respect to whatever the task is at hand. So in this case, my dad was an MKO cuz he had a better understanding of how to put the puzzle together than I did. So an MKO is someone else, but then we have to add in that sociocultural factor. So the interaction of myself, which is right here, with the MKO, the other person is what leads to learning, which I'll put over here. And it's what also leads to these higher mental functions in independence. Now the second key term that I want you to know is called the zone of proximal development, so ZPD for short, but I'll just write it out here. So it's called the zone of proximal development, and basically, I'm gonna illustrate in a second for you what what this looks like. But this zone of proximal development is the part where the most sensitive instruction or guidance should be given. So in my puzzle example, I was in that zone of proximal development because I was most sensitive to the information my father was giving me. I was between the ability of being able to do something and not being able to do something. And then that zone of guidance that I received is what allowed me to transition from the set of skills I already had to a more expanded set of skills by learning, and going beyond what I had already known. So this is what develops these higher mental functions. So let's pretend that this is our, right here I'm gonna draw a box. And this box right here represents everything that's beyond our reach and what we can't do. So I'm gonna do, put a big Can't Do over here, and this little circle inside over here represents everything we can do currently; in our current state, it's what we can do. And according to Vygotsky, the zone of proximal development is the link between the two, right in here, your ZPD. And that is the zone or the area that's most sensitive to instructional guidance, that allows the learner or child to develop the skills they already have and to use it on their own and go beyond into the areas they can't do, to expand that learning. So for example, I couldn't solve the jigsaw puzzle by myself when I was little; it would have taken me such a long time to do or at all. But I was able to solve it, following the interaction with my father. The ZPD involves and interaction with the MKO. And eventually, I developed that competence of that skill that I can also use in the future. So this arrow right here, just gonna show you, is what represents all of our learning and our development. Now another important part of Vygotsky's theory was the importance of language. So I'll put that right over here. Number three is language. So according to Vygotsky, he said that language is the main means by which adults transmit info to children, and it's also a very powerful tool of intellectual adaptation. So he looked at private speech. Now private speech is also called internal speech. It's when people talk out loud to themselves. Which happens most likely with what type of populations? Do adults speak out loud to themselves a lot or do children? Well, it's actually children. Most children engage in private speech. And he, Vygotsky, sees this as a way for children to plan activities and strategies, and this aids in their development. This active speaking to themselves, talking out loud. So he said this language is, therefore, an accelerator for thinking and understanding. So children who engage in large amounts of private speech are actually much more socially competent than children who do not use it that much. So he believed that language develops from social interactions for communication purposes. And later language ability becomes internalized as thought. So as we grow older, it becomes more internalized, which is called our inner speech, so basically, thought is a result of language. That ability to think for ourselves and develop that independence of executing skills comes from this importance of language, according to Vygotsky. So there you have it. These are the three main parts of his theory.