Piaget Versus Vygotsky: Child Development--Competing theories on how children develop, either independently or through interacting with others.

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Every adult alive has developed from a simple cognitive to a more advanced one, but accepted theories that explain how this occurs are still at odds with one another. The major disagreements are about whether changes are brought about as primarily a result of the child working out solutions to problems internally, or changes in the individual are the result of negotiations between the child and the external world. Two of the more notable theories, Piaget's Constructivist Theory of cognitive development and Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory of cognitive development, are not mutually exclusive in every respect; however, they do characterize the dissimilarity between two prominent schools of the thought.

Piaget viewed the development of the child's cognitive ability as a four-stage process. Children would move up through the stages in a fixed order. He assigned estimations of age for each of the four stages, but did not see the process as connected to specific ages.

For example, if one child had been taken on trips around the world, spent much time in museums, and read many books, she might be prepared to move up to the next stage at an earlier age than a child who spent his time playing video games and watching tv all day. Piaget accounted for varying levels of preparedness by explaining that each child possessed a schema, and that a child could not move to the next stage until his or her schema was at a threshold level. Schemata were expanded through what Piaget termed as assimilation (adding to prior knowledge) and accommodation (changing prior knowledge to fit new information). In this manner, children adapt to situations in response to their need for equilibrium (solving dilemmas; mastering skills). A soccer player who wishes to be a scorer, but lacks aiming skills, may practice at shooting at...