Life (Psychology and Mental Health)
Jean Piaget was the son of a professor of medieval literature and acquired his father’s taste for hard intellectual work at an early age. He was awarded a Ph.D. in natural history from the University of Neuchâtel in 1918. Wishing to further his studies, Piaget traveled to Paris and spent two years at the Sorbonne, where he began working with early forms of intelligence tests. Piaget discovered that children could not perform many of the logical tasks that adults find to be commonplace. Why, he asked himself, is this the case? This question led him into his life’s work: studying how children develop logical patterns of thought.
Piaget held a number of important posts during his long, scholarly career. In 1921, at the age of twenty-five, he was appointed as director of studies at the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute in Geneva, where he served for the next fifty-four years. He also held faculty positions at the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne. Piaget published many books and articles on child growth and development. Among his better-known works are Le Langage et le Pensée chez l’Enfant (1923; The Language and Thought of the Child, 1926), La Construction du Réel chez l’Enfant(1937; The Construction of Reality in the Child, 1954), and L’Équilibration des Structures Cognitives: Problème Central du Développement (1975; The Development of Thought: Equilibration of Cognitive...
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Sources for Further Study (Psychology and Mental Health)
Ginsburg, Herbert P., and Sylvia Opper. Piaget’s Theory of Intellectual Development. 3d ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1988. A concise guide to Piaget’s theories and his influence on modern educational practices.
Kohler, Richard. Jean Piaget. New York: Continuum, 2008. Penetrating account of Piaget and his work, including references to his life, his educational philosophy, and the impact of his work in the twenty-first century.
Vidal, Fernando. Piaget Before Piaget. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994. A thorough though somewhat heavy-going biography.
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Piaget, Jean (Psychologists and Their Theories)
SWISS GENETIC EPISTEMOLOGIST, PSYCHOLOGIST
UNIVERSITE DE NEUCHATEL, B.A., 1915, Ph.D., 1918; POSTDOCTORAL STUDY AT UNIVERSITY OF ZURICH, UNIVERSITY OF PARIS, AND THE SORBONNE
The Swiss psychologist and epistemologist Jean Piaget (1896980) developed his theory of genetic epistemology throughout a nearly 60-year career as a professor and experimental researcher. He first began his scientific investigations as a young biologist immersed in the study of mollusks. Before he was 30 years of age, he was world renowned for his explorations of the cognitive development of children. Piaget is credited with foundational contributions to the emerging disciplines of child psychology, educational psychology, and cognitive development theory. Piaget's empirical studies of infants, children, and adolescents provided insight into the nature of knowledge and how it is acquired. He took children's thinking seriously and respected them as the architects of their own intellectual development.
Jean Piaget was the only son of Arthur Piaget, a professor of medieval studies at the University of Neuchatel, and Rebecca Jackson. He spent his childhood and adolescence in Switzerland in the region near Lake Neuchatel. He was trained as a zoologist, receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Neuchatel in 1918. His early...
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