Friday, September 10, 2010

Dawn, Vygotsky and the Zone of Proximal Development

Ooooooh, I love big words and even bigger ideas!  Dawn at This Woman's Work talks about scaffolding and adoption talk:
Here’s a down and dirty rundown:

•Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist who believed that our development is shaped by the people around us;

•Scaffolding is the idea that together we help each other learn (this term is not Vygotsky’s but it was developed from his ideas);

•the Zone of Proximal Development is the space between what we know and what we can learn with someone else’s help.

I was thinking about scaffolding on the context of talking about adoption and thinking about how many of us don’t/can’t do it. I see this in some of the discussion on Open Adoption Support and on other blogs, how hard it is to talk to our kids about adoption. Some of us get as far as developing a Life Book but don’t get any further. And some of us say, “Well, this is my child’s story and I don’t want to influence it. I will let them bring it up. I will let them write the narrative.”

But what we’re doing is ignoring that Zone of Proximal Development; we are not helping our children over the gap.
Go! Read!


Von said...

While I can see why Vygotsky appeals and the role of learning is crucial to our development, this is all 80 years old and the understanding of genetics and the importance of factors other than environment have moved along.He doesn't recognise the emotional or genetic factors in learning and development, which we now know are crucial.
Talking to adoptees about their adoption seems so hard for some it fear ,anxiety or what? If you 'tell' as many adopters do, lovingly, supportively, with compassion and empathy you can't go far wrong.If you answer questions honestly when they come up and establish a good relationship, where the child isn't afraid to ask because of unspoken disapproval and you have dealt with your own loss, you're doing well.
It is important to preserve all the information and material you have, but it is the child's journey.Some adopters swamp the child and take over ownership as if they are too threatened to allow the child to own his/her own life and history.We all have a life and history prior to adoption no matter how young we were and it is ours, the more you fail to acknowledge that, the harder the outcome will be.
Interesting post!

Dawn said...

I'm glad this resonated with people because it was an epiphany for me but then I thought maybe I was just slow to the epiphany and that writing it would leave a bunch of people going, "Yeah, Dawn, duh." I wrote it anyway because I'm trying to keep a record of my epiphanies in grad school. ;)