Vygotsky, Erikson, and Piaget and Their Contributions to Education

Updated on September 15, 2018
murraylindsay profile image

I've been an educational professional for many years, holding certified qualifications in that field.

Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky

Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist. He comes in 83rd on the list of influential psychologists of the 20th century, according to Review of General Psychology, 2002. He’s dead though (he died very young at age 37 in 1934) so he never knew his dizzying ranking in the hot 100! Actually, I read that his ideas were somewhat controversial at the time and nobody seemed to care much until after he died, whereupon he was declared one of the leading psychologists in the Soviet Union.

He’s best-known for his idea of the zone of proximal development. In simple language, this is the range of things that a child is learning to accomplish. For Vygotsky, people need help to construct knowledge—it only happened through interaction (not alone). That is to say that there is a social connection, whereby society shapes how the tools of learning are shaped (and thus are developed) in a person’s mind relative to the world or surrounding culture of the individual.[1]

[1] Child and Adolescent Development for Educators, 2/e, Judith Meece, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill; Student Study Guide by Nancy Defrates-Densch (Cognitive Development: Piaget's and Vygotsky's Theories)

Zone of Proximal Development Diagram

Jean Piaget

Vygotsky’s ideas didn’t really gain much ground until the 1980s, when the popularity of our next top 100 psychologist, Jean Piaget, started to wane (right around the time of his death, incidentally). They can’t have waned much because Paiget is really ripping it up on the influential psychologists of the 20th century rankings, coming in at number two, just ahead of the mighty Freud with only that pesky Skinner stopping him from being on top of the pile. So, from this I can infer that Piaget’s impact in the world of psychology was greater than that of Vygotsky; Piaget’s cited more in journals and textbooks, for example.

Both Paiget and Vygotsky were constructivists. This implies that we build our own understanding of the world in which we operate. Paiget was all about how we get out of balance when we meet a new situation or challenge – our “equilibrium” becomes disequilibrium and we seek to get back into kilter. We may be able to work things out using our existing frameworks of knowledge, but if not we have to find new ways of organizing the new information – this is called “accommodation” and it’s how our learning develops. Piaget said there were a number of stages that we went through:

1. Sensorimotor stage: from birth to age two (using our senses, e.g. sucking);

2. Preoperational stage: from beginning to speak to the age of seven (starting to use symbols and thinking is egocentric)

3. Concrete operational stage: from ages seven to eleven. Children become less egocentric (friends become important), and they’re starting to think logically but within rigid frameworks.

4. Formal operational stage: Age eleven up; abstract thought and problem solving is developing.

Piaget's Assimilation and Accommodation Model
Piaget's Assimilation and Accommodation Model

Erik Homburger Erikson

Erik Homburger Erikson was a German psychologist who fled to America because the Nazis started burning books, which he rightly anticipated wouldn't end well.

Despite never gaining a degree, he worked as a professor and makes it to 12th place on the influential psychologists’ top 100 ranking.

He’s best known for “identity crisis” – the concept of us trying to find our rightful place and role in the world when we were spotty kids.

Adolescents are faced with physical growth, sexual maturity, and integrating ideas of themselves and about what others think of them.[1] There are actually eight stages of development starting from infancy where trust and mistrust was the "crisis" we were trying to overcome. Getting through these crises helps you to find your way in life. Not getting through them leads you to be a little lost sole searching for meaning. I'm in the generativity versus stagnation stage of middle age, meaning I have a need to give something back to the younger generation, else I'll stagnate and become even more bitter than I already am. Next up for me is integrity versus despair. Great, roll on death!

That's my two-cents on the double-Erik-hamburger and his sidekicks, Piaget and Vygotsky!

[1] Kendra Cherry, Identity Crisis - Theory and Research

Rank within the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century

Rank (Most Emminent)
Name
Rank (Journal Citation Frequency)
Eponym (noun formed after them)
1.
B.F. Skinner
8.
Skinnerian
2.
Jean Piaget
2.
Piagetian
3.
Sigmund Freud
1.
Freudian
12.
Erik Homburger Erikson
16.
Erikson’s psychosocial stages
83.
Lev Semenovich Vygotsky
n/a
Vygotsky test
Source: Review of General Psychology, 2002, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 139–152, The 100 Most Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century, Steven J. Haggbloom, Western Kentucky University.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Murray Lindsay

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Jessie L Watson profile image

        Jessie Watson 

        12 months ago from Wenatchee Washington

        Last year I read "Construction of Reality in the Child" by Piaget. That was probably one of the driest books I've ever laid eyes on but his stages of development are still well regarded throughout the field of Child Psychology.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)