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Jean Piaget

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Psychology classes study Jean Piaget and his theory of cognitive development. Piaget's theory is also used for educational majors and in child development courses. If you have a research paper due on Jean Piaget and need his life or his theories explained, have Paper Masters custom write it for you.

Jean Piaget developed the theory of cognitive development in opposition to how human growth was viewed at the time. The general view of children was that they were little versions of adults.Piaget begged to differ, and devised his theory which contends that children's thought processes are qualitatively different than adults'.The theory of cognitive development is based on stages. A child grows from stage to stage through schemas, whereby he or she adapts to experience, assimilates that experience, and accommodates the change in perception.

  1. The first stage of cognitive development is sensorimotor (0-2 years).Intelligence is based in motor activity.
  2. The second is pre-operational (3-7 years). Intelligence in this stage is intuitive in nature.
  3. The third is concrete operations (8-11 years). This form of intelligence is logical, but dependent on concrete references.
  4. Finally, a child reaches formal operations (12-15 years).Intelligence has reached the level where a child can think abstractly.

This is a broad overview of the theory, but in fact, each stage has many detailed structural forms to account for individual differences in children. For example, the concrete operational stage has more than 40 distinct structures.

In Piaget's book, The Psychology of the Child, Piaget also suggests that this cognitive development in children in of a biological nature. This suggests that cognitive development will naturally unfold in children without any intervention from parents or educators. In other words, there is little that anyone can do with regard to encouraging or rushing this development. Thus, children cannot learn skills that are inappropriate for their cognitive level. They cannot be prevented from developing these skills by restricting their environment. In fact, one's environment has little to do with this development process.

Piaget's Cognitive Theory of Development included four distinct categories of human development. Sensori-Motor, the first stage, involved infants and their use of the five senses to comprehend their surrounding world.Children of this age are unable to use language to communicate and lack the ability to recall objects or people once they have left the infant's field of view.In addition, infants in the sensori-motor stage lack consciousness of self and exist in alternating states of tension and relaxation.

As language capabilities are acquired, infants grow and pass into the next stage, Preoperational. This stage involves children of preschool and kindergarten age, approximately two to six years old. Although children of these ages are becoming proficient in using language to communicate orally, they are not capable of recognizing other people's perceptions. Therefore, they are self-centered.

The third stage is the Concrete Operational stage and involves the development of logical thinking. Operations of children in this stage primarily involve tangible objects that can be manipulated rather than abstract thoughts. Their current level of cognitive structure permits only step-by-step reasoning skills.

Finally, by ages 11 or 12, children enter the final stage, Formal Operational.This stage is characterized by the ability to think abstractly and utilize the skills of synthesis and integration to understand the world around them. In addition, children in this stage can understand ideals and moral values.

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