Jean Piaget

.. tages of the child`s cognitive growth. While both the assimilation and accommodation processes are responsible for establishing a perfect cognitive fit between the scheme and the information, each completes the process in different manners, hence the need for two different terms. Assimilation reconfigures the new data to fit with existing schemes, and the accommodation process restructures a child`s schemes to accommodate the new environmental information. As Piaget states, Accommodation [is] the adjustment of the scheme to the particular situation.He goes on to give an example of the two processes: An infant who`s just discovered he can grasp what he sees (will then assimilate) everything he sees.

. . to the schemes of prehension, that is, it becomes an object to grasp as well as an object to look at or an object to suck on. But if it`s a large object for which he needs both hands . .

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. he will (accommodate) the scheme of prehension,(Bringuier, 1980). Piaget 9 The main component of Jean Piaget`s development theory has been addressed somewhat, but a factor of this importance requires much more attention. The key component is the stage model of cognitive growth. Piaget makes it clear that these stages are not determined by age but cognitive development in this very brief explanation of the model, ¨The stages are an order of succession. (The development) isn`t [according to] the average age, (Bringuier, 1980).

He goes on to describe the model as a, ¨sequential order, (Bringuier, 1980) of cognitive growth. The stage model is made of four stages and as one may infer from the statements from Piaget, these stages are discontinuous. The first stage the child goes through is the sensorimotor. During this stage there is, the existence of an intelligence before language, (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969). While age does not determine the stage of growth, the average age of children in this stage is birth to two years old.

Zimbardo and Weber (1994) explain Piaget`s conclusion on this stage as one where, the child is tied to the immediate environment and motor-action schemes, lacking the cognitive ability to represent objects symbolically. The main task during the sensorimotor stage is for the child to control and coordinate his or her body. While in the second year, most children begin, to form mental representations of absent objects, (Zimbardo & Weber, 1994). Finally, at the end of the sensorimotor stage the child moves rather easily, can identify family members, has developed an understandable language level, yet the child is still, illogical, egocentric, Piaget 10 and unaware of his self, (Cohen, 1983). The next stage is the pre-operational which has an approximate range of age from two to seven years old. During this time, unfortunately, the child still can not carry out logical operations.

However, to reach this stage the child must increase the speed of his or her manipulations, and become involved with more complex tasks. The child also creates mental symbols for physical objects during this phase. Most importantly, though, are the three features that preoccupy the mind during this stage as described by Zimbardo and Weber (1994): egocentrism – focus revolves around themselves and no one else; animistic thinking – believing inanimate objects have life and that they think; and there is centration – in which the child is often too focused on one characteristic of the perception, thus, the child is prevented from understanding the entire perception. Jean Piaget also notes that by the end of this stage the child develops, language, symbolic play, and mental images . . [which] .

. permit the representation of thought, but it is a preoperational thought, (Bringuier, 1980). The approximate age for the third phase of cognitive development is seven to eleven years of age. The child can not think in abstracts during the concrete operational stage, but can maintain mental operations which allows them to solve problems that are concrete such as addition and subtraction. During this stage, the child has a general knowledge of the requirements and guidelines for a complex task but the child can not Piaget 11 complete the task because he or she can not visualize any possibilities.

This is because all possibilities are represented by abstractions and the child can only represent objects in the concrete form. However, the child does begin to focus on the entire perception, slowly breaking away from the centration feature that is prevalent during the preoperational stage. Also, the egocentrism that was so obvious during the preoperational stage is usually left behind at that stage. One last improvement in the child`s cognitive development is that the child now understands the idea of matter conservation. The last stage of cognitive growth according to Jean Piaget is the formal operational which usually consists of individuals on the average of eleven years old. The child`s cognitive formal operations, no longer relate directly to objects, (Bringuier, 1980).

The child can now think in abstracts and he or she realizes that their reality is not the only one that exists. The child also has, all the mental structures needed to go from being naive thinkers to experts, (Zimbardo & Weber, 1994). Piaget described this stage best when he said that, The great novelty of this stage is that . . .

the (adolescent) becomes capable of reasoning correctly, (Cohen, 1983). Overall, the schemes, the assimilation and accommodation processes, and the stage model all are constructs that not only support Piaget`s brilliant theory, but they themselves are innovative theoretical components. Piaget 12 Impact on Society Jean Piaget was the leading experimental epistemologist, thanks in some part to Simon and Binet`s work, but he set the standard that would not be accepted by the ethnocentric Americans until they were desperate during the Cold War and decided to open their eyes and accept his findings. Once they did this, they implemented Piaget`s theory into many American school systems which would have had a much more beneficial outcome had the powers that be implemented the great man`s work more carefully. Yet, Piaget and his theory have survived and he is labeled as,The dominant force in shaping the cognitive-field and perceptual-field theories .

. . (Adelani, etc. 1990). His theory was strong because he placed intellectual development over the child`s emotional, social, and moral development because he viewed the intellect as having influence over these other developing entities. In conclusion, Piaget summarizes the cognitive development theory best in this statement: My secret ambition is that the hypotheses one could oppose to my own will finally be seen not to contradict them but to result from a normal process of differentiation. (Bringuier, 1980).

Bibliography Adelani, L., Behle, J., Leftwich, B., and White, C. (1990). Mathematical Readiness: What is it? How do you measure it? How is it used? Saint Louis, Missouri: Harris Stowe State College. Bringuier, J. C. (1980). Conversations with Jean Piaget.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Cohen, D. (1983). Piaget: Critique and Reassessment. New York City: St. Martin`s Press.

Piaget, J. (1951). The Child`s Conception of the World. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Piaget, J.

and Inhelder, B. (1969). The Psychology of the Child. New York City: Basic Books. www. piaget.org Zimbardo, P.

and Weber, A. (1994). Psychology and Life. Saint Louis, Missouri: McGraw-Hill Company.