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Reflections on the concept and potentials of Developmental Education (open talk)

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ABSTRACT: Developmental Education is a concept of schooling that is based on Vygotsky’s view on the relationship between development and learning. Particularly, it applies the idea that good teaching should advance children’s learning and development by always being one step ahead of the pupils’ actual level of functioning. In the elaboration of Vygotsky’s ideas for the school we went beyond the narrow interpretation of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) as can be found in conceptions that emphasize the discrepancy between what children can do on their own, and what they can do with help of adults or more capable peers. According to Vygotsky, the core of the ZPD concept lies in the concept of imitation. Starting out from this interpretation we developed a development promoting curriculum for primary school that can be characterized as a play-based curriculum, and is based on such basic notions as appropriation of cultural tools , guided participation, dialogue and polylogue. The presentation explains the notion of the play-based curriculum with the help of these concepts, and will illustrate some of its teaching strategies and outcomes.

BIOGRAPHY: Bert van Oers is Professor in Cultural-Historical Theory of Education in the Department Theory & Research in Education at the VU University Amsterdam. He received a honorary doctorate at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland in 2004. He was trained as an educational psychologist (theory of learning and developmental psychology) and specialised since 1975 in cultural-historical psychology. His research interests are in the areas of early childhood education, inquiry-based learning, and play. Publication: van Oers, Wardekker, Elbers & van der Veer (eds.), The transformation of learning (CUP, 2008).

This talk is part of the Psychology & Education series.

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