Wednesday 8 June 2011

The Zone of Proximal Development

The zone of proximal development was one of Russian scientist Lev Vygotsky’s most important contributions to the field of developmental psychology. It is defined by the void between what a person can independently do and what they can only do with assistance (Kail, 2010). A basic example might be when a karate instructor positions a beginner student into an exact zenkutsu-dachi (front stance), however when by themselves the individual cannot make the stance. For example their stance is say, too narrow, or has incorrect distribution of weight. Of course this not limited to single movements and positions but also renzokuwaza (combination techniques), kata, kumite (sparring) etc.

Wertsch & Tulviste (1992) stressed that the instructor supervising the student inside of the zone of proximal development must be more skilled, and preferably, a highly skilled individual. Therefore, seriously taking into account the teacher-student learning process, how we are taught, practice, refine skills, and so forth, it readily becomes obvious that whoever guides us from dependence, to independence, really matters!

This sums up why it is absolutely critical to seek the highest level of karate instruction available. Try to maximise your own zone of proximal development by seeking out the very best instructor or instructors, who can guide you with the utmost expertise and ensure that your karate will blossom.

© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand (2011).


Kail, R.V. (2010). Children and their development (5th ed.). Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersy. USA.

Wertsch, J.V., & Tulviste, P. (1992). L.S. Vygotsky and contemporary developmental psychology. Developmental Psychology, 28, 548-557.

No comments: