Jean Piaget's Theory Of Cognitive Development

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The thinking between a 3 year-old preschooler and a 9-year-old student is very different, according to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Cognitive development refers to the development of thinking, problem solving, and memory. Jean Piaget developed his theory by observing infants and children. He believed that children form mental concepts or schemes as they experience new situations and events. He also believed that children first try to understand new things in terms of schemes they already possess, a process called assimilation. The process of altering or adjusting old schemes to fit new information and experiences is accommodation. Piaget proposed four distinct stages of cognitive development that occur from infancy to adolescence. …show more content…
Children, who can now move freely about in their world, no longer have to rely only on senses and motor skills but now can ask questions and explore their surroundings more fully. However, they are limited in several ways such as being incapable of logical thought--they can use simple mental concepts but are not able to use those concepts in a more rational, logical sense. They believe that anything that moves is alive, a quality called aminism. For example a 3-year-old preschooler that sees a tooth fairy in a book or television becomes real to them. Children don’t think about how the tooth fairy gets to a child’s house and collects their tooth or how they replace the tooth with money.

Another limitation is egocentrism, the inability to see the world through anyone else’s eyes but one’s own. For the preoperational child, everyone else must see what the child sees, and what is important to the child must be important to everyone else. For example, a 3-year-old, who eats a piece of candy multiple times and their mother tells them that they don’t want to see them eat the candy again will cover their eyes with their hands and assume that their mother won’t see them because in their perspective, whatever the 3-year old doesn’t see, the mother won’t be able to see
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For example, a 3-year-old may complain about his slice of pizza being smaller than his brother’s and become unhappy. Once his original slice is cut into two slices, he will think that he has “more” than his brother. The 3-year-old will focus on the number of slices he has and not the actual amount of pizza he has. Focusing only on one feature of some object rather than taking all features into consideration is called centration. Centration is one of the reasons that children in this stage often fail to understand that changing the way something looks does not change its substance. The ability to understand that altering the appearance of something does not change its amount, its volume, or its mass is called conservation.
Preoperational children fail at conservation not only because they centrate but also because they are unable to “mentally reverse” actions. This feature of preoperational thinking is called irreversibility. For example, if a preoperational child sees juice poured from a short, wide glass into a tall, thin glass, the child will assume that the second glass hold more juice. The child is unable to imagine pouring the juice back into the first glass and having it be the same amount

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