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THE ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR LEARNING AND TEACHING There can be little doubt that in the English-speaking world at least it is the zone of proximal development that has been Vygotskys most important legacy to education Indeed it is the only aspect of Vygotskys genetic theory of human development that most teachers have ever heard of and as a result it is not infrequently cited to justify forms of teaching that seem quite incompatible with the theory as a whole This centenary conference therefore seems an appropriate occasion to review Vygotskys exposition of the zpd and to consider the ways in which this seminal concept has been modified and extended in subsequent work Although the zpd is often said to be a central concept within his theory its explicit formulation appeared quite late in Vygotskys writings and then in two rather different contexts One version translated into English as Interaction between Learning and Development chapter 6 of Mind in Society 1978 occurred in a posthumously published collection of essays entitled Mental Development of Children and the Processes of Learning Vygotsky 1935 Here the immediate context in which the concept of the zpd is presented is that of the assessment of childrens intellectual abilities and more specifically as a more dynamic conception of intellectual potential than that represented by an IQ score Vygotsky defines the zone of proximal development 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 1978 p86 In other words operationally it is the zone defined by the difference between a childs test performances under two conditions with or without assistance The second version occurs in Vygotskys last major work Thinking and Speech 19341987 and is embedded in chapter 6 in which he discusses The Development of Scientific Concepts in
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