Assignment One Question Three
Jean Piaget was born in Switzerland on August 9th, 1896. He was the oldest of three children, and the only boy. His father was Arthur Piaget, a professor of medieval literature. His mother was Rebecca Jackson, and his godfather was the Swiss scholar Samuel Cornut. In 1923, he married Valentine Chatenay. The couple had three children, Jacqueline, Lucienne, and Laurent. Piaget died in Geneva on September 16, 1980, after a brilliant scientific career made of over sixty books and wrote several hundred articles (Papert, 1999). Piaget’s greatest contribution was to found the field of cognitive development. He believed children are the biggest manufacturers of their own development, as man’s capacity for logical thought is not learned but embedded along with hair colour and sex, in their genes. In other words, a child cannot be forced to develop understanding any faster than the rate at which their powers mature to their full potential, so there is a limit to what overeager parents and teachers can achieve. On the flip side, a child who does not get the chance to apply their developing abilities and test limitations may never reach his full intellectual capacity (Pramling, 2006). According to Jurczak (1997), Piaget believed in four stages of cognitive development:
• Stage 1: Sensorimotor – New-born to Age 2
The child’s primary concern is mastering their own innate physical reflexes and extending them into interesting or pleasurable actions. During this time, the child becomes aware of themselves as a distinct and separate physical entity. They also realises the objects around them have a separate existence.
• Stage 2: Preoperational - Age 2 to 7
In this stage, a child learns to represent objects by words and to manipulate the words mentally, just as they learned to manipulate physical objects in stage one. A child is able to manipulate their environment symbolically through inner thoughts about the external world.
• Stage 3: Concrete Operational – Age 7 to 12
During this period the child begins to grasp concepts of time and number. The beginning of logic in the child’s thought processes occurs as well as the classification of objects by their differences and similarities.
• Stage 4: Formal Operational – Age 12 to adulthood
This stage is characterized by an orderliness of thinking and a mastery of logical thought. The child learns to manipulate abstract ideas, make hypotheses, and see the implications of their own thinking as well as others.
Jean Piaget came from a middle-class family. He was influenced by his father, who was a highly respected historian with controversial opinions. His father believed in the value of systematic work, even in the smallest matters. Piaget had a difficult relationship with his mother, who had a neurotic temperament. She was intelligent, had strong convictions, and an interest in social reform. Piaget found an escape for himself in the reliable hobby of science. Piaget’s godfather introduced him to philosophy and epistemology during his adolescence. He grew up in Neuchatel, which experienced a sudden surge of educational institutions during his youth. This allowed Piaget to have access to a higher level of education (Leo, 1980).
From the age of ten, he worked after hours as an assistant for Paul Godet, the director of the Neuchatel Museum of Natural History. It was here that he was first introduced to the process of scientific study; specifically, the classification of land and fresh water molluscs. This is what initially sparked his interest toward the study of zoology. As a teenager, Piaget was a member of the Club of the Friends of Nature. This club encouraged the exploration of nature, both physically and intellectually. They wrote papers, published them in their magazine, and had many well-known scientists give speeches to their club (Papert, 1999). Piaget published his first