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Exploring Theme Curriculum Development of the Process through Group Discussion Period in a Kindergarden—from the Viewpoint of Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Activity Theory
As Vygotsky suggested, environment is the origin of human development, and the higher mental ability of human beings is derived from the interaction between individuals and their surroundings. He further pointed out the dynamic and collective nature of activities which produced in such interaction construct the context of real human life. The most important parts for those who involved in activity are their motivations and intentions; therefore, the goals of activity are achieved through their negotiations. The topic-centered curriculum emphasizes children should construct their own knowledge through the curricula and activities which developed by interaction among teachers, children and events under classroom social-cultural context. Because group discussion is the most important activity in developing curriculum, so the present research investigates how topic-centered curriculum is developed, and how children’s mental ability is promoted in this curriculum forming process, by collecting data from group discussion period of an intended choice early childhood classroom. Vygotsky’s theory of activity is taken for the purpose of analyzing curriculum content and context. The teacher/student and student /student dialogue data is analyzed by social-semantic approach in order to understand the formation of goals, curriculum, and activity, as well as the context of their development. The teaching-learning related tools and materials are also studied in terms of their meaning and function in the process of curriculum development. The research results indicate that the curriculum development context is constructed by eight major activities. Each goal of activities is connected and appears in levels and orders, which represents a trend of concretization and elaboration. In terms of whole curriculum development context, it presents three forms, circuit, suspend and linearity. The present study offers three applied suggestions to teachers adopted topic-centered curriculum approach. First, besides inspecting daily activity content, teachers shall also give serious consideration on the goals of activities concerning their levels and orders to concretization and elaboration. Second, in terms of teaching-learning related tools and materials, which are the products of interaction, therefore should be related to topics and make sense to students. Third, children’s spontaneous knowledge is as significant as teacher’s instruction, so teachers should take advantage of children’s pragmatic knowledge and take the right time to teach new knowledges to children.
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