6 Education Theorists All Teachers Should Know

6 Education Theorists All Teachers Should Know Infographic
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Lev Vygotsky

According to Vygotsky (1978) the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) relates to the difference between what a child can achieve independently and what a child can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner. For example, a child can not solve the jigsaw puzzle by himself but if he receives support from a teacher or a parent, he will be able to solve it. This will help him to develop competence at this skill that will be applied to future jigsaws.

Scaffolding is not a term that Vygotsky actually used but it is a concept that developed based on his work. It means that a teacher or a more advanced peer helps a student to complete a task that he can’t do on his own. The scaffolding has to be gradually reduced and eventually be removed since the student can complete the task on their own.

Read also: Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Learning Theory

Jean Piaget

According to Piaget (1936), children are born with a very basic mental structure (genetically inherited and evolved) on which all subsequent learning and knowledge is based. Piaget worked with the idea that the things people know are organized into schemas. (think of schemas as “units” of knowledge, each relating to one aspect of the world).  When a child learns something new, they either assimilate it into an existing schema, change their schema, or develop a new schema. When we activate background knowledge before introducing a new knowledge we are helping students draw upon their existing schema.

Read also: Piaget’s Τheory of Cognitive Development

B.F. Skinner

According to Skinner (1993), behaviour is influenced by what happens before (antecedents) and immediately after it (consequences). So, behaviorism it’s the idea that praise and rewards positively reinforce a behavior and encourage kids to continue with it. Skinner believed that punishments are counterproductive and that humans act in a way to avoid punishment and gain reward.  If you praise your students for doing something right, display a good work etc, you are using behaviourism to guide students towards the behaviors and actions of successful adults.

Read also: Skinner’s Programmed Instruction Educational Model

Jerome Bruner

Bruner introduced the use of spiral curriculum, so that the student continually builds upon what they have already learned. He believed that learning is not transmitted but it is constructed and conquered by the student. Learning requires exploration, experimentation, reconstruction of knowledge and discovery. Therefore, subjects would be taught at levels of gradually increasing difficultly (hence the spiral analogy). As teachers, we must encourage students to discover knowledge on their own. There are several ways of discovery, such as the maieutics of Socrates, the exploration of some problematic situations, the construction of special problems through which the child can understand some concepts and draw rules. The importance of the discovery lies not so much in its effect but in the actual exploration process.

Read also: Bruner’s Discovery Learning Model

Benjamin Bloom

Bloom’s Taxonomy was created in 1956 by Dr Benjamin Bloom (Bloom et al., 1956) in order to promote higher forms of thinking in education, such as analyzing and evaluating concepts, processes, procedures, and principles, rather than just remembering facts (rote learning). There are six major categories of cognitive an processes, starting from the simplest to the most complex.


The categories can be thought of as degrees of difficulties. That is, the first ones must normally be mastered before the next one can take place. Here is some ideas of how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in your Classroom.

Read also: Blooms Taxonomy

Howard Gardner

Gardner found that people have more than one way of processing information and that a typical IQ score does not completely measure intelligence. He created the theory of Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 1983), which is based on the belief that each individual has unique intelligences through which he or she is able to learn or understand new information. In the classroom we can engage multiple intelligences by singing, allowing students to work independently or with partners verbally, through art, writing, educational experiments and through movement.

Read also: Multiple Intelligences: What Does the Research Say?


Bloom, B.S. (Ed.). Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, W.H., Krathwohl, D.R., 1956.Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.

Bruner, J. S., 1960. The Process of education. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Gardner, H., 1983. Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. Basic books.

Piaget, J., 1936. Origins of intelligence in the child. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Skinner, B. F., 1993. About behaviorism. Great Britain: Penguin.

Vygotsky, L. S., 1978. Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.



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