Zone Of Proximal Development
[ Journal Entry ]
Back to Interwoven Conversations. On page 179 I mention Lev Vygotsky’s work on zone of proximal development .
In his own words, (Mind in Society, 1978) Vygotsky argues
This notion of operating ahead of ourselves is what’s driving me to hang out with the hang gliding pilots. Saturday and again Tuesday afternoon I went to the flight park. I was hoping to get some tandem flying in but circumstances didn’t afford that. However, my time certainly wasn’t wasted—I learn a lot by hearing the guys talk, watching them set-up, listening to the instruction they’re receiving from Barry. The instruction may not make a lot of sense to me at that moment but something of it will feel familiar when I’m ready for it (Conroy, right?). So Saturday, I took up the passenger seat in the tow truck to watch and talk to Gerry while he was being tow-driver—I wanted to learn about towing; about how fast the truck should go, how to keep track of air speed, how to keep an eye on the winch operator, how to respond to the radio commands from the pilot. I can’t do most of that myself yet, but when I’m ready to try, with Gerry beside me prompting, it will feel reasonably familiar having been with him on several tows. Every part of the process is like that—I learn from watching what the guys are doing. I also need hands-on time myself.
I consciously think about setting up this kind of learning environment for you—where you can learn from one another, where you get hands-on experiences, where I can ask questions to guide your observation and judgement-making. The same supportive environment that the St. Boniface teachers and I were exploring with their kids. I’m keeping a close watch on what risks you are taking, trying to assess your growth in terms of your intentions.
John Dewey (Experience and Education, 1938) comes at this same issue in terms of experience. He makes the following observations:
There are two essentials to a learning experience, Dewey believes. He contends that it is part of
What fascinates me is how these ideas all interconnect; how interwoven they are. And how they have had a profound influence on how I see myself as a teacher.
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