Friday, July 30, 2004

Inspirational Perturbations 

This overview of Vygotsky’s vision of psychological development in a must for those interested by social learning theories. It describes psychological development as being essentially the progressive alteration of primitive (animal) functions by exposure to a social environment. According to Vygotsky, around the age of 7 there is almost nothing left of our animality and we become a pure social construct.

“Development of thinking has a central, key, decisive significance for all the other functions and processes. We cannot express more clearly or tersely the leading role of intellectual development in relation to the whole personality of the adolescent and to all of his mental functions other than to say that acquiring the function of forming concepts is the principal and central link in all the changes that occur in the psychology of the adolescent. All other links in this chain, all other special functions, are intellectualized, reformed, and reconstructed under the influence of these crucial successes that the thinking of the adolescent achieves... Lower or elementary functions, being processes that are more primitive, earlier, simpler, and independent of concepts in genetic, functional, and structural relations, are reconstructed on a new basis when influenced by thinking in concepts and they are included as component parts, as subordinate stages, into new, complex combinations created by thinking on the basis of concepts, and finally under the influence of thinking, foundations of the personality and world view of the adolescent are laid down”
I believe that most of the time we are desperately trying to adapt to our social environment. The problem is that one's social environment is a constantly moving interpretation. This situation produces an urge to adapt. We are then relentlessly chasing a projection of the place we think we should occupy in our own personal social environment. Insecurity is probably the driving motivational force in learning. Learning is then a desperate attempt to go back in the comfort zone.

Is security in fact a barrier to learning? It might explain why I never liked recommendation systems such as Amazon’s. If we are proposed only with things that we like, we might end up staying in that comfort zone where learning is less likely to occur.

Via OLDaily

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