One constructivism is the zone of proximal

of the major underpinnings of the Foundation Phase was a worry about formal
approaches of learning being introduced too soon to children and a result,
there was a fear of them having a negative impact on the development of the
child. The Foundation Phase expresses ‘desire to introduce more developmentally
appropriate practices into classrooms and settings’ (Taylor et. al 2016 p.3).

This idea of rejection of formal and traditional educational settings for
children happens to be constructivist in nature. Children should be in a setting
in which they can learn actively through social interactions with their peers and
their teacher. They can also learn through the hands on manipulation of
objects. Within the Foundation Phase, outdoor play is encouraged as a method of
active learning. It is through active learning that children construct their own
meanings and understandings.


key concept of constructivism is the zone of proximal development or ZPD. The
ZPD is defined 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” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86 cited in Schunk,
2013, p.245). It denotes the amount of learning achievable by an individual
child when they given the correct instructions. In the ZPD, the teacher and the
student or the More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) and the learner work together on
a task that the learner could not complete independently due to the complexity
of it. Learners do not attain cultural knowledge passively from these interactions,
they instead come with their own perceptions to the social interaction. They
then construct meanings by incorporating those perceptions and understandings
with their experiences in the context (Schunk, 2013). Scaffolding is a model that
was developed by Bruner to build onto Vygotsky’s ZPD and help further explain
it. ‘Scaffolding is the process of providing support to learners at the
appropriate time and at the appropriate level of sophistication to meet the
needs of the individual’ (Pritchard, 2017 p.25). It can be shown in many methods
which include through discussions. Talking about the task with the More Knowledge
Other will help the learner construct their own understanding of the task. The
processes of scaffolding and the zone of proximal development can be seen in
the Foundation Phase through the promotion and encouragement of collaborative learning
between the students. Collaborative learning allows for students to assist one
another if they do not understand a particular task with one of them taking up
the role of the More Knowledgeable Other (MKO). This encourages problem solving
amongst the children. The layout of a classroom under the Foundation Phase has
children sitting around tables in group. This promotes cooperation and
collaboration between students as well as allowing them to construct their own insights
into a variety of tasks and problems.


in 2011 reviewed the Foundation Phase and reported some down falls of the
curriculum framework which can also be linked in with constructivism. Many
practitioners are not clear on what the guidelines of the framework are nor are
they trained in constructivist teaching and learning, as well as scaffolding
strategies (ESTYN, 2011). Although average class sizes have decreased, individual
assessments of the children’s progression through the ZPD is difficult for one
teacher to do alone. Some practitioners were reported to be wary of the Foundation
Phase due to concerns about classroom control and student behaviour (Schunk,2013).



on the other hand is ‘a theory of animal and human learning that
focuses upon the behaviour of the learner and the change in behaviour that
occurs when learning takes place’ (Wollard, 2010 cited in Pritchard, 2017 p.6).

Unlike the constructivism, behaviourism focus in what the learner is learning
and how their environment affects their learning, Behaviourism as a theory was
developed toward the end of the 19th century with the influence of
key theorists such as Pavlov, Skinner and Watson. John Watson is predominantly
considered to be the founder of modern behaviourism. He believed that assumptions
about human development should be made about the outward behaviour of an
individual rather than their cognitive processes. He thought that is was more accurate
to study observable behaviours. Watson’s created basic stimulus-response model using
results from Pavlov’s experiments with dogs. Pavlov studied the digestive  process 
its relationship with salivation and 
stomach  function in dogs. To
establish  whether  external 
stimuli  had  an impact 
on  this  process, he rang  a bell every time he fed the dogs. Overtime,
he he noted that the dogs salivated shortly before they were given food.

Eventually he found that the sound of the bell alone (an example of a
conditioned stimulus) would cause the 
dogs  to  salivate 
(an example of a  conditioned  response). 
Pavlov also discovered that the conditioned reflex would eventually get
repressed  if  the 
stimulus  proved  to be wrong too  many times. Therefore, if the bell rang many
times and the dogs were not fed, they eventually stopped salivating at the
sound of the bell.


expanded on Watson’s mode, and introduced the concept of operant conditioning.  Through Skinner’s research on rats he concluded
that  both  animals 
and  humans to tend repeat  acts that 
led to  favourable  outcomes, 
and  suppress  those 
that  produced  unfavourable 
results. Therefore, pleasing responses are conditioned unsatisfying
responses are not (Brown
and Zhou, 2014).

In a classroom setting, students are often rewarded for answering questions
right even of they don’t fully understand question. They in theory could have
been conditioned just like Pavlov’s dogs and Skinner’s rats. The learning
theory of behaviourism is mainly focused around the concepts of behaviour
modification. A typical classroom not under the Foundation Phase framed the
teacher as the centre of attention which is very unlike the constructivist learning
theory. Instead of being a facilitator learning the teacher is there to impart
their knowledge on to the students. Students typically sit in rows rather than
in groups as a result, collaborative between students are rare. These scenes
are seen in high school and FE as well as HE classrooms. They also used to be
seen in primary school classroom. However, the change in contemporary practices
overtime has changed the landscape of primary school classrooms.


conclusion, learning theories underpin most if not all contemporary learning
practices. It is important to note that. The change in contemporary practices
from a traditional classroom setting that has behaviourist qualities to a more contemporary
classroom that encourages creativity and problem solving as part of a
constructivist inspired classroom. It is important to note that learning
theories do not exist independently of one another. They interact daily and it
is possible for a single classroom to be influenced by two or more learning


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