Birthplace: Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Location of death: Geneva, Switzerland
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Cimetière des Plainpalais, Geneva, Switzerland Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Executive summary: Elaborated the stages of childhood Jean Piaget was a Swiss biologist, philosopher, and psychologist best known for his work in the area of developmental psychology. LikeSigmund Freud and Erik Erikson, Piaget divided cognitive (sikundi) growth and development into fixed stages. But Piaget's particular focus was on the intellectual or cognitive development of children and on the way in which their mind's processed and progressed in knowledge. Piaget's central thesis was that children (1) develop self-centric theories about their environment, and about objects or persons in that environment, and they grow; and (2) that children base these theories on their own personal experiences interacting with persons and objects in their environment; (3) that the child used "schemas" to master and gain information about the environment; and (4) that the sophistication of a child's cognitive structures increased as the child grew and developed, as did the child's "schemas". Schemas, which are the child's tool bag of actions and responses to make things happen, start with rudimentary interactions such as grabbing and mouthing objects and eventually progress to highly sophisticated skills such as scientific observation. Piaget divided the child's path of development into four stages which began with birth and culminated in the teen years. These stages are: Sensorimotor stage (0-2 yrs), Preoperational stage (2-7 yrs), Concrete operations (7-11 yrs), and Formal operations (from 11-15 and up). A chief tenet of Piaget's theory is that these stages do not vary in order, cannot be skipped, and should not be rushed. Piaget's work has had considerable impact on the fields of education and of child psychology, but his influences can also be seen in a variety of other fields. Examples include the work of philosopher and social theorist Jürgen Habermas as expressed in The Theory of Communicative Action, and well as Seymour Papert's work developing the Logo programming language. In addition, computer scientist Alan Kay utilized Piaget's theories in developing the Dynabook programming system, an innovation that led to both laptop and tablet style computers. Jean Piaget was born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland in 1896. His father was a professor of medieval literature. His mother, an intelligent and energetic woman, was said by Piaget to be a bit neurotic, and thereby responsible for his early interest in psychology. As a child he was interested in nature and enjoyed shell collecting. His interest in mollusks developed to such a degree that he wrote to the curator of a local museum to request access to its collections after hours. Permission was granted and he became a regular visitor and friends with the curator. He eventually took a part time job at the museum. Meanwhile, at age ten he wrote his first scientific paper, purportedly to get the librarian to understand that he was not merely a "child." The paper dealt with his sighting of an albino sparrow. As a young teen he was publishing papers in earnest, principally in the field of mollusks. Not only was his age not suspected, but also he was considered a great expert in the field. As a young man he attended the University of Neuchâtel where he received a degree in zoology in 1918. He then studied psychology in Zürich under the eminent Carl Jung as well as Eugen Bleuler. He continued his studies in Paris at the Sorbonne, working with with Alfred Binet to evaluate the results of child intelligence tests which Binet had designed and administered. As Piaget worked he noted the correlation between the child's age and the type of error he or she...
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