Jean Piaget is the most widely known of all educational theorists and perhaps the main contributor to current practice of education. Piaget made vast contributions to the direction, meaning and understanding of contemporary constructivism. Examples of Piaget's contributions include his ideas that knowledge should be actively constructed by a child and learning activities should match the level of the development stage of each child. Also, several major approaches to the national curriculum and instruction are based on Piaget’s theory. For instance, Piaget influenced many teaching techniques such as the focus on the process of the child's thinking and the active role of the learner. Piaget's focus on the process of the child thinking promoted the development of the stages of cognitive development. Teachers use the stages in today's classroom as a way to gauge a child's cognitive functioning. This permits the development of activities and learning experiences that are at the correct cognitive development stage for the child's ability to learn. Piaget recognised that children must be self-initiated and actively involved in learning activities. A current application of this concept today can be found, many of the national curriculum material include interactive activities and even educational software for the child to engage in self-controlled learning.
Another well known, and perhaps one of the most controversial theorists to date, is Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalytic theories of development began with the work of Freud, who believed that early childhood experiences had a lasting effect on further development of the individual thus having a lasting influence over the way children are educated today and the psychology behind the way this is executed. For example, early education through play, making it both an enjoyable and positive experience for