Many different theorists have focused on theories of learning. Over the last century they have influenced our approach to supporting children’s learning, focusing on the role of play in learning and considering the individual needs of children learning at different paces and rates. According to my research all the theorists have followed their own concept of development to provide a different set of explanations for the development of children‘s learning. The constructive, social constructive and behaviourist theories are essential strands in finding out about how children learn. The theorists I am considering are all fairly recent.
The constructive theory is developed by Jean Piaget 1896-1980. He worked on the cognitive development of the children. He discovered that children learn and develop in 4 different stages at different ages and that their learning is collaboration between thought and experiences. Piaget has given this procedure a name called a schema. This schema is developed with assimilation. It is a learning process which means that the integration of new knowledge or information with what is already known and accommodation means that the children would have the ability to include something without major change. Children develop and adopt schema by assimilating new knowledge using prior knowledge. For example a child might find that putting on a cardigan is similar to putting on a coat. Accommodation happens when children thinks that schema does not fit to what is happening. This then forces the children to develop a new schema on the latest experience. For example if a child has drank juice from a pink cup more than once and then drinks milk from the same cup later a change occurs. This informs the child that the schema does not fit with their academic knowledge. The child then develops the schema that all the pink cups contain juice or milk. In Piaget’s account,
“when children encounter a new experience they both ‘accommodate’ their existing thinking to it and ‘assimilate’ aspects of experience. In so doing they move beyond one state of mental ‘equilibration’ and restructure their thoughts to create another.” Andrew Pollard and Sarah Tann, 1993 pg 107
As I work in Foundation Stage, play is integral to everything the children do. Piaget’s work has also contributed to how important play is for children and illustrates how it helps children learn. Play as Assimilation and Accommodation;
“The child at pretend often imposes a schema on the world (assimilation) Children at play also imitate something they’ve observed or repeat a past activity (accommodation) Play contributes to development because of this tension between assimilation and accommodation” http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~play/Piaget%20lecture.pdf 22/12/2010
Piaget also felt that as well as children developing and adapting schemas...