Marni Kaplan-Earle NEMTEC 2010
“I have some works here, with which I need some help. Would you like to help me?” My invitation to Max, Sophie, Christian and Kate accepted, I proceeded to share, challenge, interview, and observe. The tasks I presented illustrated the phenomena of cognitive development in early childhood, the stage Jean Piaget calls preoperational. While Piaget refers to his developmental theory in “stages” he does not feel that the stages happen at specific times but that they are sequential and one depends on the previous. The distinguishing characteristics of the preoperational stage stand as barriers to logic and the challenges to cognitive thinking and growth. They will be broken down as the child moves toward a more mature stage. These characteristics include: egocentrism, transductive reasoning, centration, Irreversibility, Animism, Inability to distinguish appearance from reality. With physical experience, social growth and interaction the child addresses these barriers and moves past them. This process is an internal one, influenced by the child’s immediate environment, but cannot be changed through abstract explanations, repetition, reading, or demonstration without the element of hands-on practice. Experiment I: Conservation of Volume The Fluffy Factor Materials: •Two identical natural zippered pillow cases, both square, both natural muslin, both ironed to a smooth and crisp appearance •Two 12 x 3 inch lengths of red hand-dyed combed wool batting •scissors, ruler In each interaction with individual children, the venue was set up as any new lesson: teacher on dominant side of the child, work on the table in front, materials presented on a tray and then moved to the table for working. I chose this set up rather than sitting opposite the child to maintain the intimacy already established in our classroom relationship. The
child would have detected the change in position, and the number of anomalous responses could increase. Hypothesis: Conservation would increase with age as the barriers to logic decrease. The younger the child the more likely she is to offer an illogical response. As the child matures, her ability to apply transductive reasoning and logical thought expands. Presentation: 1. Bring the tray to the table 2. Place the pillow cases side by side, zipper open and up, on the table, with work space open at the front of the table 3. Lay out the wool batting lengths and the ruler in the front space, horizontal and parallel to each other, ends flush, with space between them 4. Place the scissors to the right of the pillow cases 5. Remove the tray to the upper left of table 6. Present the matching lengths of batting and question 1 7. Place each piece in a pillowcase and zipper the pillowcase, being sure to settle each piece in matching orientation inside the pillowcases. 8. Present question 2 9. Remove batting and present question 3 10. Measure both pieces of batting. Cut one piece of batting into three 4-inch lengths using the ruler as a guide. Place them endto-end and parallel with the whole and equal piece. 11. Place the three pieces in one pillowcase and the one piece in the other. 12. Present question 3 13. Reassemble the work and thank the child. Questions: 1. Are these the same amount? Whole batting 2. When I put them in the pillowcases are they the same or is one fluffier than the other? Whole batting inside the pillow case 3. Are these the same amount? Whole batting returned to table 4. When I put them in the pillowcases are they the same or is one fluffier than the other? Cut Batting inside the pillow case
Notes: A logical response is indicated by a “2” on the scale; illogical by a “1” Conclusion: All the children were captivated by the texture and color of the hand-dyed wool batting. We spent some time touching and talking about the material before proceeding with...