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James Wertsch Outlines Three Major Themes In Vygotsky's Social Formation Of The Mind

By Author: Arsenalo
Total Articles: 116

James Wertsch outlines three major themes in Vygotsky's social formation of the mind. First, the internal activities of individuals can be understood within a broader social context. Cognitive activity occurs first on the social plane, and it is then internalized by the individual. This is important in considering the diverse ways in which Shoes Online children evaluate information and information sources. The social and cultural context of children's information-seeking influences what is important to know as well as how it is sought and known.

Second, learning is facilitated by more capable peers or more knowledgeable members of a cultural group. This is the concept of a "Zone of Proximal Development" or ZPD, which Vygotsky defines as "the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers" [3, p. 86]. Several LIS researchers have identified or utilized the ZPD as a frame for studying children's IB: Linda Cooper [33] identified the role that adults play in the "grazing" and search processes of seven-year-olds; Carol Kuhlthau [34] modeled her "zone of intervention" after Vygotsky's ZPD this zone in the search process is "the area in which an information user can do with advice and assistance what he or she cannot do alone or can do only with great difficulty" [34, p. 129]; Lynne McKechnie's [35] work with young children in the public library found a similar mediating role in the process of picture-book browsing. These researchers found that adults can be supportive and provide confidence and validation to children even when they do not provide technical assistance with the search. Adults are thus seen as "scaffolding" the IB of young people [36]. This notion has been empirically tested with students and Cheap Shoes mediating information professionals but not in an everyday context of interpersonal information-seeking. Questions still remain regarding the role that peer and adult relationships play in preteen interpersonal information processes, particularly those that occur outside the professional mediation of teachers and librarians.

Third, activity is mediated by tools and symbols, particularly psychological tools (language being the "tool of tools") but also including different media, technologies, and places that facilitate social interaction and meaning-making. Informal space as a tool for facilitating information-sharing among preteens has been largely unexplored. This is a particularly important point when considering the constraints that youth encounter in their daily activities, including information-seeking. Michael Cole and Yrjo Engestrom [37] posit that to fully understand an activity (such as information-seeking) , one must address how these artifacts mediate activity situated within a cultural context. As children transition to adulthood, how others mediate their activities changes considerably. Tweens are in a period of development during which they are drawn to closer association with their peers and start to pull away from the previously comforting and secure relationships with parents and other adults. They idolize the activities of teens but are limited in their participation by a number of constraints, including mobility and authority. The current study thus proceeded from the assumption that preteens, being distinct from younger children and older teens in several ways, will also have different information needs, strategies, and mediations.

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