Contrasting Theorists

For this assignment, you will investigate and reflect on learning theories that provide the developmental foundation for teaching and learning. You will consider the work of Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and Erik Erikson. Some of this may be familiar to you from previous learning experiences, but this will provide you with a solid foundation for the content covered in the rest of the course.

At age 11, Jean Piaget wrote and published his first scientific paper featuring the albino sparrow. He was a brilliant scientist revered by many and is best known for his research on cognitive development. As you read about Piaget, ask yourself how the stages apply to your classroom, workplace, or family. Early childhood and elementary teachers should focus on object permanence, one-way logic, reversible thinking, semiotic functions, and conservation. Middle and high school teachers should focus on concrete operations, identity, compensation, reversibility, classification, seriation, adolescent egocentrism, formal operations, etc. Private or public professionals should select any topic appropriate to your life, family, or workplace.

ev Vygotsky was a tormented, frustrated young teacher in Russia. Desperate for answers to improve his teaching, he began seeking answers by studying learning and development. He swiftly became a recognized researcher, but was banned in Russia because of his references to Western psychologists. His all-too-brief life yielded a treasure trove of remarkable research on the sociocultural perspective we continue to use today. Vygotsky’s ideas about language, culture, and cognitive development continue to be major influences in socio-psychology today.

Erik Erikson was an interesting enigma of a researcher who sought answers as much for himself as for others. Born an illegitimate child in Frankfurt, Germany, the product of a married man and single mother, he spent his life focused on researching one’s identity. His parents kept his identity secret, but he was tormented at temple school for being tall, blonde, and blue-eyed and teased at grammar school for being a Jew. During his early professional life he became acquainted with Anna Freud, the daughter of Sigmund Freud; there began his exposure to and learning of psychoanalysis. He also studied the Montessori Method of education while in Vienna. When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, he and his wife immigrated first to Denmark and then to the United States, where he became the first child psychoanalyst in Boston. It is important to note that he and his wife spent a year on a Sioux reservation in South Dakota as he developed his theories of child development and the ego. Erikson developed the Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development. As you read, reflect on Erikson’s stage progression and your own life, noting transitions, changes, and new developments. See if Erikson’s theory correlates to your experience!

Choose one of the three theorists— Piaget, Vygotsky, or Erikson—and address the following (use and cite material from this week’s Required Studies):

  • Choose the most compelling and personally or professionally relevant concept the theorist has to offer.
  • Share examples of how you have implemented or plan to implement strategies derived from this theorist in your personal or professional life.

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