Learning As A Social Process Essay

2077 words - 9 pages

To what extent do you agree that learning is a social process?

Everything we learn takes place in a social context. Social learning can be applied to many scenarios ranging from a group of children collaboratively trying to solve the question of how to make a kite, to a university professor writing a research paper with a colleague, both illustrate the case of a social side to learning. On the other hand some people believe that learning is an individual process, such as reading, researching and searching online, and the social element only occurs when you engage with your network. This essay will discuss both arguments, but focus strongly on the contention that daily observations ...view middle of the document...

Even at the door of death we are being socialised. (Driscoll, 1994)

Throughout our whole lives even from birth, our understanding of the world is shaped and based on our interactions with others. The idea around learning as a social process is largely based on work by psychologist Les Vygotsky. Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory is one of the foundations of constructivism, and one of the major themes is that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development. Vygotsky felt social learning precedes development and he states: “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological).” (Vygotsky, 1978).

Reed, (2010) further supports the theme of social interaction in learning and believes that it occurs through two basic types (1) information transmission – simple learning of new facts, and (2) deliberation of ideas – exchange and change of ideas through persuasion. “Social learning may be defined as a change in understanding that goes beyond the individual to become situated within wider social units or communities of practice through social interactions between actors within social networks” (Reed, 2010, p 6). Vygotsky’s theory of how we learn from each other is often used to explain the benefits of learning in groups, further supporting the social process of learning. These ideas have led to the development of “learning communities” – which are centred around interactions and exchange of ideas. Research by Wan, etal, (2012) also supports the concept of social interaction, where he discusses that learning happens more often in dyads, groups and communities than by individual learners, and the learning environment often includes social interaction and negotiation.

In “Psychology of Learning for Instruction”, Driscoll (1994), discusses the fact that social learning is a product of the environment. “#While Piaget focused on the individual child’s progress through biologically determined learning stages, Vygotsky called attention to the ways in which social environments influence this learning process. Vygotsky proposed the idea that learning and development take place in the interactions children have with peers as well as with teachers and other adults. These social interactions develop language—which supports thinking—and they provide feedback and assistance that support ongoing learning. In a variety of ways, these social interactions form the basis of the understandings that eventually become internalized in the individual.(Driscoll, 1994.) ‘Learning is the major process of human adaptation. This concept of learning is more significant that connected with a school classroom. It occurs in all human settings, from schools to workplaces, from research lab to management board room, in personal relationships and the aisles of...

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