Piaget's Genetive Theory: The Idea Of Natural Development

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A major underlying construct of Piaget’s theory is the idea of natural selection and organism adaptation. Inspired by Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” (1859) as well as his own extensive work as a zoologist, the ideas of assimilation and adaptation are at the very heart of Piaget’s cognitive theory. Piaget believed that humans have dynamic cognitive structures (formed through individual experiences) that help us adapt to a dynamic environment. This learning system promoted by Piaget-- combining biological maturation and empirical experience-- is a direct result of his study of natural selection and philosophy. In John L. Phillips Jr.’s book “The Origins of Intellect,” he poses the idea of the roots of Piaget’s cognitive theory: “a …show more content…
He promoted the idea that learning was an active, constructive process in which people (specifically children) create cognitive structures to help them adapt to their environments. In essence, our behaviors and responses to the world create the cognitive structures help us live. One of the central concerns of developmental psychology, nature vs. nurture, is clearly addressed through Piaget’s work. As stated in “A History of American Education,” “most developmentalists today continue to accept Piaget’s basic beliefs that children are active in their own development, and that development occurs through an interaction of nature and nurture” (p. 49). Piaget believed that humans integrate our experience of the world into our minds, making us behave in certain ways. Because of this synthesis of experience and active mental processes, Piaget believed in the importance of both nature and …show more content…
Piaget believed that each and every human experience depends on the interplay of assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is the process of reacting the environment, drawing on previous experience and recognition. Because of existing cognitive structures, assimilating environments or experiences comes easily. On the other hand, accommodation is the process of modifying existing cognitive structures, or the number of schemata, to adapt to one’s environment. These two processes of thought are both necessary for learning. If a child in school had the adequate cognitive structure to fully understand a lesson, there would be no modification or addition to his or her existing schemata. In contrast, if there was no recognition of the material (and therefore no assimilation), the lesson would go over their head and no learning would occur. Piaget stressed that learning requires a balance of both accommodation and assimilation; therefore educational material should be part known and part unknown to the

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