Social pedagogy is an approach to caring for children which combines education and care, emphasising that bringing up children is the shared responsibility of parents and society. A key principle is that the child is in charge of his or her own life, and the social pedagogue works alongside them rather than dictating to them.
Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
Jean Piaget investigated how children think. According to Piaget, children’s thought processes change as they mature physically and interact with the world around them. Piaget believed children develop schema, or mental models, to represent the world. As children learn, they expand and modify their schema through the processes of assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is the broadening of an existing schema to include new information. Accommodation is the modification of a schema as new information is incorporated.
Example: Suppose a young boy knows his pet parrot is a bird. When he sees a robin outside and calls it a bird too, he exhibits assimilation, since he broadened his bird schema to include characteristics of both parrots and robins. His bird schema might be “all things that fly.” Now suppose a bat flaps out at him one night and he shrieks, “Bird!” If he learns it was a bat that startled him, he’ll have to modify his bird schema to “things that fly and have feathers.” In modifying his definition, he enacts accommodation.
Piaget proposed that children go through four stages of cognitive development:
Stage 1: Sensorimotor Period
In this stage, which lasts from birth to roughly two years, children learn by using their senses and moving around. By the end of the sensorimotor period, children become capable of symbolic thought, which means they can represent objects in terms of mental symbols. More important, children achieve object permanence in this stage. Object permanence is the ability to recognize that an object can exist even when it’s no longer perceived