An Assessment On Piaget Essay

1810 words - 7 pages

Jean Piaget was born in 1896, to a "careful and systematic thinker" of a medieval historian father and a "highly emotional" mother (Crain, 2011, p. 118). He was an exceptional thinker, and by age 11 had published his first article on an albino sparrow he had observed. By 18, he had been offered the position of curator of the mollusc collection at a natural history museum, but declined in order to finish high school (Siegler, 1998, p. 24). In the 1920s, he worked on designing intelligence tests for children at the Binet laboratory in Paris. It was here that he speculated that young children may not be "simply 'dumber' than older children or adults, but might think in an entirely different way". (Crain, 2011, p. 119) He left Paris and began to work in Geneva at the Rousseau Institute where he "found that younger children ... did indeed think in a qualitatively different way about dreams, morals and many other topics." (Cain, 2011, p. 119) A prolific writer, Piaget's varied interest in biology, philosophy and his search to find "genetic epistemology" (Piaget, 1952, in Crain, 2011, p. 119), led him to write "more than 50 books and monographs on genetic epistemology or developmental intelligence" and just under 63,000 pages of work in total over his lifetime (Hergenhahm, 2009, p. 624, 634). Siegler believes that it was this exceptional volume and also the breadth of his work during his lifetime, both in the coverage of the broad age-span of child cognitive development and also the breadth of subject matter, as one of the key factors in the longevity of Piaget's theories. (Siegler, 1998,p. 25)Piaget's work can be seen as being part of one of the three 'grand' theories of psychoanalytic, behaviourist and cognitive developmental psychology. Freud's psychoanalytical theory of developmental stages based on the child's ego, id and superego are reflected in the adult's later lives and "he believed that adult personalities and habits were influenced by earlier stages". (Berger, 2011, p 36) The behaviourists (Skinner, Pavlov and Bandura) were more interested in measurable and scientific study and saw the development of the individual as not open to "irrational thoughts and hidden urges." (Berger, 2011, p39) Rather, they placed the role of the environment as central to the development of the child. Finally, cognitive psychology provided the individual with a far greater autonomy and capability to mould its cognitive development through its biological make-up and from previous experiences. In this way, "Piaget's theory is a general, unifying story of how biology and experience sculpt cognitive development" and how "we build mental structures that help us to adapt to the world". (Santrock, 2011, p. 172)Piaget's work is different from the psychoanalysis of Freud and Erikson as he removes the personal inner conflict or crises, while separating himself from the works of the behaviourists by offering a much more participative individual.Piaget's theories of the...

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