Piaget vs. Gardner on Childhood Intelligence.

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Piaget vs. Gardner

Which view do you think best describes childhood intelligence - Piaget's view or the Nature verses Nurture discussion or Gardener's multiple intelligences? Explain your answer.

When considering intelligence, Piaget focuses on the mental processes that occur, rather than on the actual measure of the intellect. He uses four areas to define intelligence where Gardner defines eight. For Piaget these areas are a biological approach to looking at intelligence, the succession of the stages, knowledge, and intellectual competence (Vander Zanden, 2003).

Piaget's biological approach, or biological adaptation, focuses on the physical and mental aspects of our bodies. This includes our reflexes, which occur when certain stimuli trigger an instinctive response. He also discusses how we adapt to certain situations using assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation occurs when new information is introduced to a person. The person begins to integrate the new information into existing files, or "schema". Accommodation occurs when the person reorganizes schema to accommodate him or herself with the environment (Vander Zanden, 2003).

The succession of stages involves the movement through four stages that Piaget has set and defined. Children must move through these stages during their childhood. These include Sensorimotor, Preoperational, Concrete operational, and Formal operational (Vander Zanden, 2003). Stage movement is an important factor of Piaget's definition of intelligence, because Piaget states there are a specific set of criteria that must be met and mastered at each stage. In order to move from the first stage to the next, the child must master that specific set of criteria (Vander Zanden, 2003).

To define Intellectual Competence, Piaget focuses on the highest level of functioning that can occur at a specific stage. Although Piaget has approximate ages assigned to stages, a child's competence is only measured by what stage they are in, not by age. If the child can only perform tasks that are at the preoperational stage, which is the highest level the child is at regardless of age (Vander Zanden, 2003).

Piaget's theory explains how human intelligence develops through an intellectual regulatory process geared by adaptation to the environment (Vander Zanden, 2003). During this on-going relationship with the environment the child exhibits certain organizations based upon assimilation- the taking in process of experience, accepting new encounters and fitting them into existing schemes, and accommodation- the reaction of the individual who encounters new experiences that are not consistent with existing schemes and so the person must change their scheme to accept or accommodate the new information (Vander Zanden, 2003). Piaget felt that a baby is an active and curious organism, which reaches out and seeks to regulate a balance between assimilation and accommodation. This balance is what Piaget describes as equilibrium.

Piaget considered the process of equilibrium an important factor in the cognitive growth and development of a child. It was for this reason Piaget insisted that children must be allowed to do their own learning. Piaget realized that humans progressively develop or mature to higher states of cognitive development and realized that children acquire knowledge transmitted by parents, teachers, and books; he called this "social transmission." Piaget believed that when a child hears contradictory statements that challenge established schemes, equilibrium is disturbed (Vander Zanden, 2003). Piaget called such a disruption in equilibrium "cognitive conflict or disequilibrium." When children experience cognitive conflict, they set out in search of an answer that will enable them to achieve states of equilibrium.

Piaget felt that all children go through certain stages of intellectual development in the same order, even though the chronological ages may vary between bright and dull students....
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