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 or in one’s sight. Example: If a three-month-old baby sees a ball, she’ll probably be fascinated by it. But if someone hides the ball, the baby won’t show any interest in looking for it. For a very young child, out of sight is literally out of mind. When the baby is older and has acquired object permanence, she will start to look for things that are hidden because she will know that things can exist even when they can’t be seen. Stage 2: Preoperational Period
This stage lasts from about two to seven years of age. During this stage, children get better at symbolic thought, but they can’t yet reason. According to Piaget, children aren’t capable of conservation during this stage. Conservation is the ability to recognize that measurable physical features of objects, such as length, area, and volume, can be the same even when objects appear different. Example: Suppose a researcher gives a three-year-old girl two full bottles of juice. The girl will agree that they both contain the same amount of juice. But if the researcher pours the contents of one bottle into a short, fat tumbler, the girl will then say that the bottle has more. She doesn’t realize that the same volume of juice is conserved in the tumbler. Piaget argued that children are not capable of conservation during the preoperational stage because of three weaknesses in the way they think. He called these weaknesses centration, irreversibility, and egocentrism: * Centration is the tendency to focus on one aspect of a problem and ignore other key aspects. In the example above, the three-year-old looks only at the higher juice level in the bottle and ignores the fact that the bottle is narrower than the tumbler. Because of centration, children in the preoperational stage cannot carry out hierarchical classification, which means they can’t classify things according to more than one level. * Irreversibility is the inability to mentally reverse an operation. In the example, the three-year-old can’t...
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