Thursday, January 06, 2011

Education ahead of development

An article I was reading pointed this out: Education should move ahead of development, not follow it. It struck a chord in me and it made me recall my learning of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

How did he come up with the ZPD? Well, I guess how he did it matters less now. What is of more significance would be what do we do with it.

We are all so engrossed in what a child should be learning at a certain age and time. Familiar phrases such as, “Oh, but he is not old enough to do that yet,” are representations of how most of us think ‘in the development box’. Yes, we love boxes, do we not?

Educating children knowing their ZPD helps heaps, as we not only help them improve on what they already know, we also help them gain unknown knowledge. And we do so without pushing them to far into the deep end of the pool. We do not make the learning curve too steep, as it will not only be hard for them to grasp, it will also be taxing on us to teach.

Do not get me wrong, though. I am not trying to say that if the education that you promote follows development, you are wrong. No, that is not what I am getting across, at all. I am merely sharing my reflections on how I find that it seems more sensible to educate ahead of development, instead of alongside it.

It would seem a little undermining towards the children, if we do not provide them learning experience that are slightly beyond what we know they are capable of. Disrespectful of their abilities, even. It is as if we do not believe that they are able to learn what we hope for them to achieve. If this belief is non-existent, what do you think their confidence and interest in learning will build upon?

So, pay attention to every child under your wing. Observe them critically and with time, you will be able to figure out the ZPDs of each and every one of them without having to pull your hair out. And when you manage to work in favour of their learning, you will gain a sense of achievement that is indescribable.

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