Importance Of Social Interaction

"Through others, we become ourselves"

- Lev Vygotsky

Key Psychologist

Lev Vygotsky is a Russian psychologist born in November 17th, 1896. He graduated from the University of Moscow with a law degree in 1917. However, due to his interest in psychology, he further pursued his studies in the Institute of Psychology in Moscow, in 1924.

Although he only lived to the young age of 38, he published a total of six books in his 10 years of being a psychologist. His most notable work is related to education and cognitive development.

Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory

The theory states that the human mind develops from the interactions between people and society.

Vygotsky hypothesised that society develop tools such as speech and text for the purpose of communication between people within their social environment. Not only does he believe that society can impact an individual, he also believes that an individual can impact their society. Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory can be broken down into three main parts:

1. Social development plays a key role in the development of cognitive processes

By acquiring social skills such as speech and text, it will allow the individual to take in information and learn from others through the means of verbal and written communication.

2. It is important to have a ‘More Knowledgeable Other’ (MKO) for someone else to develop cognitively

For a teaching process to be effective, there must be someone of higher knowledge (also referred to as MKO) to be leading this process.

3. Learning occurs when an individual is in the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

The ZPD is the difference between the ability of a person to learn through guidance of others and the ability to learn by themselves. It is in this “zone” where learning happens.

This theory influenced a new method of teaching known as “reciprocal teaching”, where both teacher and student work together on solving a problem written by text. This is arguably more effective as compared to one-way lecture as a method of teaching, because the teacher and student will discuss how to question, how to clarify and how to generally solve different types of problems. As time progresses, the role of the teacher starts decreasing, and the student will be able to learn by themselves, encouraging independent learning.