Sunday, 29 July 2012 22:51

Jean Piaget : Men of Ideas

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Jean Piaget was born on August 9, 1896 in Neuchatel, Switzerland and died September 17, 1980. He was an influential experimenter and theorist in the field of developmental psychology and in the study of human intelligence. His father was devoted to his writings of medieval literature and the history of Neuchatel. Piaget learned from his father the value of systematic work, even in small matters. His mother was very intelligent, energetic, and kind, but had a rather neurotic temperament that made family life troublesome. Her mental health influenced his studies of psychology and he became interested in psychoanalysis and pathological psychology. Piaget's godfather was the Swiss scholar Samuel Cornut who nurtured in him an interest in philosophy and epistemology during his adolescence.

Process of Cognitive Development which has two major aspects: the coming to know and the stages that we move through to acquire this ability.

Piaget was an active man throughout his life. He enjoyed great fame and had many discoveries. He started out studying mollusk and then studied his own children as they developed. He worked at several universities in the departments of philosophy, child psychology, and history. Today his theory of cognitive development is used in many of the preschool and primary grade set-ups. Children in these programs are encouraged to learn through discovery. They are supported in all the things they try and challenged to try new things that are just beyond the child's ability but not to far out of their reach

four stages in the same order. Some children advanced through a stage faster than other children. The first stage that he observed was from birth to two years of age. Piaget called this the sensorimotor period. Children in this stage have a cognitive system that is limited to the motor reflexes. Then start to build on these reflexes in order to develop more sophisticated procedures through physical interactions and experiences. By seven months, a child has learned about object permanency, the knowledge that an object still exists when not in the child's view. During this stage, the child develops simple activities to a wider range of situations and coordinates them into lengthy chains of behavior. A child in this stage is just starting to realize that they are in control of their movements and this allows them to develop new intellectual abilities. They start to learn what the appropriate actions are and they begin to work on the ability to communicate with others through sounds and words that are simple to say. Children at this stage learn from their parents and care- givers. They imitate what they see and hear and experiment with muscle movements and sounds that the mouth makes.

The next stage that Piaget developed starts at about age two and lasts until the child is about six or seven years old. This stage he called the Pre-Operational Period. During this stage, children start to use mental imagery and language. Children here are very egocentric. These children view things that are happening around them in only one point of view...their's. Piaget probably found that his own children at this age could not reason why their parents felt the way they did, but only reasoned from what the children knew. Children in this stage think in a non-logical and nonreversible pattern.

The third stage that Piaget outlined was the Concrete Operational Stage. This stage starts at age six or seven and last till the child is eleven or twelve years old. In this stage, Piaget found that children are capable of taking another person's point of view and incorporating more than one perspective simultaneously. At this stage the child can see and reason with concrete knowledge but is unable to look at the abstract side of things and develop all of the possible outcomes. Children in this stage can work out story problems that do not ask for the abstract but deal with facts alone. They also understand seven types of conservation: the conservation of number, liquid, length, mass, weight, area, and volume. Their thought pattern is now logical and systematic making it easier for them to find answers to simple problems.

The final stage is the Formal Operational Stage. This stage starts about eleven or twelve and goes all the way through adulthood. People in this stage are capable of thinking logically and abstractly as well as theoretically. They use symbols that are related to the abstract concepts to complete problems. To Piaget, this was the ultimate stage of development. He also believed that even though they were here, they still needed to revise their knowledge base. Children by this stage are self motivators. They learn from reading and trying out new ideas as well as from helping friends and adults. Piaget believed that not everyone reaches this stage of development.

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