Pedagogic Issues for the Early Years
In their early years of life, children develop physically, cognitively and emotionally at a faster rate than at any other time in their lives. All professionals need to respond to this by supporting children as they learn to walk and run, speak and communicate, relate to others, play and explore their world. Department for Education (2015) explains that pedagogy relates to the “how”, or practice of educating. It refers to the set of instructional techniques and strategies which enable learning to take place and provide opportunities for the acquisition of knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions within a particular social and material context. It refers to the interactive process between teacher and learner and to the learning environment.
Modern pedagogy has been strongly influenced by the theories of major theorists such as Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner. Piaget argued that children construct an understanding of the world around them, and then experience discrepancies between what they already know and what they discover in their environment. The cognitive theory developed by Piaget was a theory that concentrated on the human thought process in child development. Moore (2012) explains that Piaget believed that children were active learners who construct their knowledge rather than receive and store it. He also believed that children make connections with the physical environment and social environment and are often controlled by them; this is known as an interactive process that Piaget describes as assimilation and accommodation. Pound (2009) outlines that Piaget argued that there was a natural sequence for the development of thought in children and that it was not enough to teach ideas by simple reinforcement or practice but instead the child had to be at a certain stage of development to be able to learn new concepts.
It is evident that Piaget suggests that teaching begins with the learners existing understandings and experience, helping them to build upon and develop these. It is important that practitioners identify the child’s current state of development and then setting up appropriate learning activities.
Vygotsky and Bruner’s theory complimented Piaget’s discovery through their social interaction and cultural theory. There are many key elements of Vygotsky’s that are common to Piaget’s; both believing that learning is active and that learners move through age related stages. In his work, Vygotsky emphasised the roles of social interaction and instruction. Blake and Pope (2008) explains that Vygotsky proposed that development does not precede socialisation but rather social structures and relations lead to the development of mental functions. He believed that social interaction play an important role in children’s learning. Vygotsky’s central topic was the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) which uses social interaction with more knowledgeable others to move development forward. A m...