Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget This paper revolves around developmental psychologist Jean Piaget and his work. While swaying from the personal to the professional sides of the Swiss psychologist, the research touches on key influences that inspired young Piaget to become such a driven and well respected psychologist. However, the most extensive part of this paper is the explanation of his cognitive development theory and how it evolved. The three main pieces to Piaget`s puzzle of cognitive development that are discussed are schemes, assimilation and accommodation, and the stages of cognitive growth. In addition to the material on the man and his theory, there is the most important component of the paper, the ways Piaget and his work molded the future.

Piaget 3 Introduction Now known as one of the trailblazers of developmental psychology, Jean Piaget initially worked in a wide range of fields. Early in his career Piaget studied the human biological processes. These processes intrigued Piaget so much that he began to study the realm of human knowledge. From this study he was determined to uncover the secrets of cognitive growth in humans. Jean Piaget`s research on the growth of the human mind eventually lead to the formation of the cognitive development theory which consists of three main components: schemes, assimilation and accommodation, and the stage model. The theory is best known for Piaget`s construction of the discontinuous stage model which was based on his study of children and how the processes and products of their minds develop over time. According to this stage model, there are four levels of cognitive growth: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational.

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While a substantial amount of psychologists presently choose to adhere to the constructs of the information processing approach, Piaget`s ground breaking cognitive development view is still a valuable asset to the branch of developmental psychology. Whether or not Piaget uncovered any answers to the mysteries of human knowledge is disputable, but one belief that few dispute is that Jean Piaget did indeed lay a strong foundation for future developmental psychologists. Table of Contents Abstract 2 Introduction 3 Historical Background 4 Theoretical Construct 7 Impact on Society 12 Reference List 13 Piaget 4 Historical Background In 1896 the summer in Switzerland was just an ordinary, uneventful three months. However, during this ordinary and uneventful span of time, a child was born who would become an extraordinary developmental psychologist and fulfill the future with ground breaking events in the field of cognitive psychology. He was the son of an intelligent man and a stern, smart religious woman, and godchild of respected epistemologist Samuel Cornut.

With such scholarly surroundings, there is little surprise that Jean Piaget developed into such an intelligent individual. At age eleven, young Piaget wrote a paper on albino sparrows and got it published. This publishing provided him with the opportunity to meet a man who would turn out to be very influential, Paul Godet, the curator at the local museum. Young Piaget also benefited highly from his prestigious high school in Neuchatel, along with the aforementioned godfather Samuel Cornut who introduced him to one of the two fields he would grow to love, epistemology, and most of all Jean Piaget`s parents who not only instilled an academia home environment but also provided a solid religious background. Another big moment came in the form of a book.

Piaget names Henri Bergson`s L`Evolution Creatrice as the most influential piece of writing he has ever read in his adult life. He had this to say about it, reading Bergson was for me a revelation . . close to ecstasy, (Cohen, 1983). Piaget 5 From this book Piaget developed a desire for biology to go along with his existing interest in philosophy, epistemology to be exact.

Piaget stated in his first two books that he had ambitions of constructing a structure that addressed the basic questions of epistemology. However, according to Cohen (1983), Piaget`s strong initial interest in philosophy declined somewhat when he discovered that the philosophers did not really know any factual answers to questions that have plagued humanity. Piaget now became equally interested in biology and epistemology. This dual interest attracted him to psychology, yet he still was unsure of what direction he should take in his career. It was not until Piaget traveled to Paris to hear his favorite writer of the time, Bergson, that he began to get an idea of what he wanted to do.

There Piaget met James M. Baldwin who would motivate him and teach him, the importance of imitation and of reversible operations, (Cohen, 1983). Both of these qualities would play a key role in the formation of Piaget`s development theory. However, Piaget`s major turning point came when the co-worker of the late Alfred Binet, Dr. Simon, requested that he standardize an intelligence test. Piaget flourished in the role of answering complex philosophical questions.

Yet, Piaget did not go along with the traditional epistemologists who simply laid back and tried to conjure up answers. Piaget opted for the more biological-type of experiments with epistemology topics. This method of biological experimentation with epistemology gave Piaget 6 Piaget the motivation to begin testing children and to do what he felt he was destined to do, determine how the mind grows. His result was the cognitive development theory. Piaget 7 Theoretical Constructs The cognitive development theory is Jean Piaget`s attempt to explain how the human mind develops.

A common description of Piaget`s view of the mind is that it is, ¨an active biological system that (uses) environmental information to fit with or adjust to its own existing mental structures, (Zimbardo & Weber, 1994). Now, to describe how this biological system develops, Piaget breaks the development process down into three main components: schemes, assimilation and accommodation, and the stage model of cognitive growth. Schemes, ¨are the structures or organizations of actions as they are transferred by repetition in similar or analogous circumstances, (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969). In simple terms, schemes guide thoughts based on prior experiences, thus, serving as the building blocks of cognitive growth. Except, with simple schemes, which are the first schemes to develop in a child`s life, the child has very little, if any, past experiences to guide his or her thoughts. Therefore, early thoughts depend almost entirely on the new born child`s reflexes to senses.

These basic schemes later combine with each other in order to develop more complex schemes that are more capable of guiding the child than reflexes. However, the complexity of the schemes depend upon how well and how much an individual either assimilates or accommodates information that is new to the mind. If schemes are considered building blocks, then Piaget 8 the assimilation and accommodation processes can best be described as the construction crews. These two processes aid in cognitive growth by arranging the new information with schemes that are already present in the individual`s mind. The more new information the child assimilates or accommodates, the less his or her schemes will have to rely on physical objects to create cognitive operations. Of course, according to Piaget`s stage model, this reliance on physical objects will not decrease until the latter s …


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