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Vygotsky's Concept of Mediation

Vygotsky's Concept of Mediation,Yuriy Karpov

Vygotsky's Concept of Mediation   (Citations: 2)
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According to Vygotsky, mediation is the process of equipping children with mental tools, the instruments they will need for mediating their mental processes. Mediation begins with an adult's involving children in the course of shared activity, with the goal of solving a problem. In the context of this activity, the adult provides for the children a sort of mental template or model that will make it possible for them to solve the problem. Initially, the children apply their new mental instrument under the guidance of the adult. Gradually, the adult passes greater and greater responsibility to the child. The adult also facilitates the child's internalization of the newly acquired tool. As a result, the child's activity, which began as a shared child-adult activity that was mediated by an external tool turns into the child's independent activity that is now mediated by the child's internalized representation of the mental tool. When that occurs, the process of Vygotskian mediation is successful and completed. The concept of mediation is the central concept in Vygotsky's (1978, 1934/1986, 1983/1997, 1984/1998) theory of child development. According to Vygotsky, all human mental processes are mediated by tools, but these are special, psychological tools, such as language, signs, and symbols. Human beings are not born with these tools, just as they are not born with tools of labor. These tools are invented by human society, and children acquire them in the course of interpersonal communication with adults or more experienced peers. Having been acquired and internalized, these psychological tools come to mediate children's mental processes. Vygotsky called human mental processes that are mediated by tools higher mental processes, to differentiate them from lower mental processes with which children are born, and that are specific for both young children and nonhuman animals. For example, a young child, just like an animal, is "a slave of his visual field" (Vygotsky, 1984/1998, p. 103), whose attention is involuntary, controlled by external stimuli. In the course of interpersonal communication and joint activity with adults and peers, the behavior of children is regulated by others, and regulates others, by means of language. The verbal tools of regulation are internalized and come to mediate children's attention. As a result, the children become capable of self-controlled, voluntary attention.
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