How To Keep Learning Like A Wide-Eyed Child

The Zone of Proximal Development

Michael Papas
Mind Cafe

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Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

When children are growing and learning, their skills and knowledge fall into one of three categories:

  1. Mastery: what they know and can do on their own. These abilities seep into the unconscious.
  2. Inability: what they do not know and cannot do, at all. These abilities are entirely outside of the psyche, conscious or unconscious.
  3. In Development: what they’re learning now; what they can do with guidance. These developing abilities occupy the conscious mind.

The skills and knowledge within this third category fall into a space coined by the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky as the zone of proximal development.

Wikimedia Commons

Let’s take the example of a child learning new words. Those words it understands fall into the circle of mastery — the child needs no help remembering and applying them. These words recede into the unconscious, to sprout when needed.

Those words the child has never before heard fall into the circle of inability. These words are entirely in the unknown for the child — an unknown that becomes known…

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Michael Papas
Mind Cafe

Insights from neuroscience, non-dual mindfulness, and psychedelics to upgrade your awareness. For gigs or just to chat, get me at michaelpwriting@gmail.com.