THEORIES OF DEVELOPMENT
JEAN PIAGET (1896-1980)
Jean Piaget was a Swiss Zoologist who is widely recognized as having influenced the way young children are taught. Piaget’s theory is based on the idea that the developing child builds concepts for understanding by responding to physical experiences within his or her environment. Piaget further believed that a child’s cognitive ability increased in sophistication with development because learning is based on experiences they build up as they become older. He believed that children’s learning followed logical patterns based on their own experiences. He called these patterns “schemas” and believed that children were able to adapt their schemas as they gained new experiences. Piaget’s theory identifies four stages based on their biological development. The four stages are: * Sensory-motor - occurring at0-2 years, (putting together first schemas on such things as how to gain attentionand interact with toys) * Pre operational – occurring at 2-6 years, (extending their interaction with the world around them but becoming egocentric and unable to see others’ point of view). * Operational – occurring at 5-12 years, (can see others’ point of view, can reason more easily, use trial and error approach to problem solving, able to categorize information). * Formal operational – occurring at 12 years +, (able to manipulate ideas in their head, are more logical and methodical and no longer using trial and error approach).
Piaget’s theory has had considerable influence in the way that we work with children. It has taught us that children should be free to explore, manipulate and experiment and that teaching staff should create the conditions in which learning may best take place. For example, nursery school classrooms should provide children with play materials that encourage learning such as climbing frames to give spatial awareness, material such as building blocks, sand and water to enable construction, play areas where children can develop role play skills through imaginative play and small toys to encourage sorting and counting. We should recognize that each child needs to construct knowledge for themselves and that it is the child rather than the teacher, (to a degree), that initiates activities. Piaget’s theory has taught us that children learn from actions and experience rather than from passive observations and that people who work with young children should be as concerned with the process of learning as they are with the outcome.
SIGMUND FREUD (1856–1939)
Freud is important in child development as he was the first theorist to consider that we all have an unconscious mind and he was interested in the way people say and do things without always realizing. He believed that our personalities are made up of three parts; the id, the ego and the superego and that each will develop with the child in a subconscious way driven by psychological needs.
* Id – the id is the part of our minds that represents our desires and needs. Freud suggested that all babies are id as they are only interested in their own needs and will not consider those around them as long as their needs are met. For example, a baby will cry if he is hungry and will not consider the people around him, he will only do what he thinks he needs to in order to be fed, ie cry. * Ego – Freud believed that the ego emerges later as children begin to consider the consequences of their actions and how behavior will affect the way their needs are met. He also believed that the ego stage is the stage at which children learn to plan the best way of meeting the id’s demands. For example, if the id wants some sweets the ego considers that the best way of getting the sweets is by behaving well, the sweets will be the consequence of the good behavior. * Superego – this develops later in childhood. The superego is the part of our...