Piagets Theory of Cognitive Development

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Piaget’s background

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was actually not a psychologist at first; he dedicated his time to mollusc research. In fact, by the time he was 21 he’d already published twenty scientific papers on them! He soon moved to Paris, and got a job interviewing mental patients. Before long, he was working for Alfred Binet, and refining Burt’s reasoning test. During his time working at Binet’s lab, he studied the way that children reasoned. After two years of working with children, Piaget finally realised what he wanted to investigate – children’s development! He noticed that children of a younger aged answered questions qualitatively different than those of an older age. This suggested to him that younger children were not less knowledgeable, but gave different answers because they thought differently. He spent over 10 years perfecting his theory, and it is widely acknowledged as one of the most valuable developmental theories – especially of it’s time. It’s no lie that there are many new, possibly more valid theories now, but Piaget’s theory has had a lot of influence on schools, teaching and education all over the world. So, let’s begin exploring Piaget’s theory, the key concepts and the stages. Theories of cognitive development: Jean Piaget.

September 5, 2010 at 4:00 pm 49 comments

Our first years of life are an incredible, but dangerous journey. Thousands of sperm died trying to make us, and only one made it. From our journey as an embryo to a foetus – the size of a single cell to a fully sized baby – we develop more than we will our entire lives. From birth until we’re a few years old, our development is still incredibly rapid; we have so much to learn in such little time! It is advantageous to learn quickly, that way we’re more likely to survive in the cruel, unforgiving world.

Piaget’s background

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was actually not a psychologist at first; he dedicated his time to mollusc research. In fact, by the time he was 21 he’d already published twenty scientific papers on them! He soon moved to Paris, and got a job interviewing mental patients. Before long, he was working for Alfred Binet, and refining Burt’s reasoning test. During his time working at Binet’s lab, he studied the way that children reasoned. After two years of working with children, Piaget finally realised what he wanted to investigate – children’s development! He noticed that children of a younger aged answered questions qualitatively different than those of an older age. This suggested to him that younger children were not less knowledgeable, but gave different answers because they thought differently.

He spent over 10 years perfecting his theory, and it is widely acknowledged as one of the most valuable developmental theories – especially of it’s time. It’s no lie that there are many new, possibly more valid theories now, but Piaget’s theory has had a lot of influence on schools, teaching and education all over the world. So, let’s begin exploring Piaget’s theory, the key concepts and the stages.

Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development.
Background:
Piaget’s theory is based on stages, whereby each stage represents a qualitatively different type of thinking. Children in stage one cannot think the same as children in stage 2, 3 or 4 etc. Transitions from one stage to another are generally very fast, and the stages always follow an invariant sequence. Another important characteristic of his stage theory is that they are universal; the stages will work for everyone in the world regardless of their differences (except their age, of course, which is what the stages are based on!) Piaget acknowledged that there is an interaction between a child and the environment, and this is a focal point for his theory. He believed a child cannot learn unless they are constantly interacting with their environment, making mistakes and then learning from them. He defined children as “lone scientists”; he did not identify...
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