by John Redmond
“Instructional scaffolding” is an educational term that borrowed its imagery from bricklayers and construction workers. Scaffolding is a temporary structure for workers to stand and climb on so they can build, repair or restore a more permanent structure.
In educational terms, scaffolding is temporary support given to students to help them approach a complex subject by building on things they already know. A five-year-old student learns about animals starting with cats and dogs. They can then associate these understandings with lions and wolves.
Abstract concepts can be explained by similar substantial relationships. For instance: “The relationship between humans and God should be like the relationship between mind (heart) and body.”
All teachers use these tools both intentionally and subconsciously. Jesus used parables and Reverend Moon used many examples and analogies, often acting them out.
Where to place the scaffold
An important concept is that the “scaffold” be constructed in the “zone of proximal development.”
This means the teacher has to be familiar with the cultural, intellectual and emotional level of the student and use appropriate models to reach him or her. Instruction for elementary students that depends on them knowing advanced math will fail.
The Divine Principle text uses many examples and analogies appropriate to college-educated Korean Christian audiences and has been re-edited many times to strengthen the bridge to different cultures and audiences.