Vygotsky is an important theorist in the twentieth century in education. He has come up with the theory discussing the zone of proximal development and its application to the education of person with special needs. This theory has been put into practice in coming up with strategies for persons with intellectual challenges. But this however does not come up with full support as some of the propositions in his theories have been criticized. In his theories he considers the zone of proximal development to possess upper and lower limits where children are categorized in the limits. The first misconception that can be deduced from his theory is that assessment of a child’s zones provides a biased incomplete picture (Robert, 28). Hence an accurate picture of the child’s learning style, development level, and learning ability cannot be obtained through comparison to children of similar ages or degrees of motivation. Thus the zone’s width depending on its causes could be undesirable or desirable.
Measurement is another hindrance observed in the theory. This is because, there exists no metric scale to configure a child’s individual zone. This is because Vygotsky at times measured the zone in terms of chronological age in relation to mental age. This has drawback in that comparison cannot be done by the number of years. For instance a 9 year old behaving like a 12 year old has a 3 year age difference. This cannot be applied in a case of children with ages 5 and 8 as the difference is similarly 3 years (Kozulin, 40). The zone meets another obstacle since little is known on the stability and generality of an individual’s zone. The domain of one child’s zone is not equal across different children (Daniels, Harry, and Mariane, 80). This is due to the fact that behavior differences do occur in children of similar ages. Thus a zone is not stable and neither can it be generalized.
The theory pays little attention to issues of development across different ages. It gives little idea how a child’s level of cognition would constrain or permit processes in the zone. It also ignores the effect different settings have on children and ignores cognitive skills needed to respond to varying stimuli. The theory overlooks the fact that varying developmental levels lead to varying responses to a setting (Kozulin, 67). Finally Vygotsky’s theory lacks tasks prototypical to be associated with the theory as he relies on general summaries. Considering the aforementioned weaknesses, many theorists and educationist borrow little from his theory in its application to special education. This is coupled with the fact that persons with special needs occur in a large diversity. Hence the theory would call for individualization of strategies adopted for special needs learners.
Daniels, Harry, and Mariane Hedegaard. Vygotsky and special needs education: rethinking support for children and schools. London: Continuum International Pub. Group, 2011. Print. Kozulin, Alex. Vygotsky’s educational theory in cultural context. UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print. Robert, Michelle Suzanne. Vygotsky theories & meaningful relationships. Burnaby B.C.: Simon Fraser University, 2005. Print.
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