Educational Implications of Piaget's Theory
Ch. 2, p. 41
Educational Implications of Piaget’s Theory
Piaget’s theories have had a major impact on the theory and practice of education (Case, 1998). First, the theories focused attention on the idea of developmentally appropriate education—an education with environments, curriculum, materials, and instruction that are suitable for students in terms of their physical and cognitive abilities and their social and emotional needs (Elkind, 1989). In addition, several major approaches to curriculum and instruction are explicitly based on Piagetian theory (Berrueta-Clement, Schweinhart, Barnett, Epstein, & Weikart, 1984), and this theory has been influential in constructivist models of learning, which will be described in Chapter 8. Berk (2001) summarizes the main teaching implications drawn from Piaget as follows:
A focus on the process of children’s thinking, not just its products. In addition to checking the correctness of children’s answers, teachers must understand the processes children use to get to the answer. Appropriate learning experiences build on children’s current level of cognitive functioning, and only when teachers appreciate children’s methods of arriving at particular conclusions are they in a position to provide such experiences. Recognition of the crucial role of children’s self-initiated, active involvement in learning activities. In a Piagetian classroom the presentation of ready-made knowledge is deemphasized, and children are encouraged to discover for themselves through spontaneous interaction with the environment. Therefore, instead of teaching didactically, teachers provide a rich variety of activities that permit children to act directly on the physical world. A deemphasis on practices aimed at making children adultlike in their thinking. Piaget referred to the question “How can we speed up development?” as “the American question.” Among the many countries he visited, psychologists...
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