Should We Abandon Piaget’s Theory Given the Amount of Criticism It Has Received over the Year?

Topics: Jean Piaget, Theory of cognitive development, Kohlberg's stages of moral development Pages: 5 (1425 words) Published: August 8, 2011
Developmental psychology 2

Should we abandon Piaget’s theory given the amount of criticism it has received over the year?

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) in his early years of age was a biologist who originally studied molluscs but later he moved into the study of the development of children's understanding, through observing them and talking and listening to them while they worked on exercises he set. He started his tests with his own children on describing the mechanism by which the mind processes new information. His views of how children’s minds work and develop have been enormously influential for parents, scientists, philosophers, and most particularly influence the educational theory (Siegler, 2005). Piaget noticed that infants have skills that were certainly simple, sensorimotor skills, but they focussed on the way in which the infants explored their environment and how they gained more knowledge of the world and more exploratory skills.  These skills he called schemas. The two processes that are involved in every interaction are assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation refers to the way in which people renovate incoming information so that it fits in their already existing way of thinking. For example a child seeing a zebra for the first time and calling it a horse. The child assimilates this information into her schema for a horse. When the child accommodates information, he takes into consideration the different properties of a zebra compared to a horse, perhaps calling the zebra a horse with stripes. When he eventually learns the name of zebra, he has accommodated this information (Siegler, 2005).

Assimilation and accommodation influence each other. Assimilation is never present without accommodation and also the opposite. These two processes are the two sides of adaptation; Piaget’s term would call learning. This begins to occur within the first month of the child’s birth. This is during the first stage of the sensorimotor period. Assimilation is the most well known activity during this stage, but accommodation is also brought into cooperate (Siegler, 2005). These two processes begin during the first stage, but do not start to develop, until the following life time period in child’s development.

The stages of cognitive development are related to a person's ability to understand and assimilate new information. Each of the following stages prepares the child for the succeeding levels. The first level is the sensorimotor stage, from birth to two years old. During this period, infants are busy discovering relationships between their bodies and the environment. Researchers have discovered that infants have relatively well developed sensory abilities. The child relies on seeing, touching, sucking, feeling, and using their senses to learn things about themselves and the environment. They have not yet learned to use mental representations or images to represent objects or events, the A-not-B error task which is a particular error made by young children for example, if an object is hidden from view, four-month-olds will not attempt to search for it (Siegler, 2005). Generally for these infants, it is out of sight, out of mind. But although by eight or nine months of age the situation changes. Infants of this age will search for the hidden object. They have developed object permanence, which means the understanding that objects continue to exist even after they are no longer seen. At the age of two, the child enters what Piaget called the Preoperational Stage. This stage usually lasts until about age seven. Since a child can now pretend and remember, it can now begin to understand symbols more complex than simple words and it picks up these symbols and uses them to communicate and to play. But children in that age present lack conservation, which is the understanding that the physical attributes of an object remain unchanged even though their appearance has changes, for example when children of this age watch...

References: * Siegler R, Wagner Alibali, (2005)
Children’s thinking
* Siegler R, Deloache J, Eisenberg N. (2006)
How children develop, Worth Publishers 2nd edition
* Moore, S (2008), Complete psychology 2nd edition
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