Cognitive development is the growth in our capabilities as learners. Cognitive development theory attempts to explain how humans acquire and construct knowledge of themselves and their world. The first systematic theory of cognitive development was proposed by Jean Piaget, however there are other major theoretical approaches to cognitive development, including those of Vygotsky. Piaget approached the subject from a biological, nature, perspective, whereas Vygotsky approached the subject from an environmental, nurture, perspective. This leads to major differences in their theories regarding the way in which we learn and the importance of certain aspects such as language on cognitive development. Piaget's theory focuses on the organisation of intelligence and how it changes as children grow. Whereas Vygotsky's theory centres around the social process and he defines intelligence as the capacity to learn from instruction. We will also look at the impact both men's theories have had on education and how they have been applied to education. For better or worse. We will, therefore, look at these differences along with others, as well as the similarities of Piaget's and Vygotsky's theories and compare and contrast them.
Both Piaget and Vygotsky were influenced by the evolutionary implications of Darwin's theory, which does account for some resemblance between them and Vygotsky's intellectual heritage was similar to that of Piaget. There is some dispute as to whether Vygotsky's theory is indeed a stage theory along with Piaget's. It is thought by Butterworth & Harris