How did Jean Piaget redefine knowledge, education, schooling, teaching and learning?How did Jean Piaget redefine knowledge, education, schooling, teaching and learning?

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think Piaget's biggest claim in the area of psychological and therefore educational change was his focus on children in the early childhood stages.  Before Piaget, most psychologists were in the habit of studying children who were old enough to answer questions.  Piaget suggested that behavioral patterns begin in the brain, and children can think before they can speak.  His study focused on infants and very young children (namely, his own at first).

Next, Piaget began to shift away from a focus on environmental factors as the motivators for behavior.  He identified essentially four stages of cognitive development that he suggested every human goes through, and provided approximate time frames for each.  Through these stages of cognitive development teachers of early childhood (and parents of infants) were able to approach learning, discipline, and communication in a completely different way.

Mainly, from birth until about age 7, children are only in the sensory-motor and pre-operational stages.  This means in pre-school, kindergarten and 1st grades, most students are unable to think abstractly.  Every thought is driven by what they can see and touch.  Cause and effect are very difficult concepts.  Memorization of facts and skills does not connect with understanding.

Basically, Piaget can be credited with the fairly recent movement in early childhood education from a teacher-centered approach to a student-centered approach.  Classrooms today are much more interactive, full of hand-held manipulatives, and much of the education happens through self-discovery and play time.  Because at the early stages, children are inherently ego-centric, curriculums were developed to move from the child, outward.  Learning is built on previous knowledge that actually grows with the child's cognitive ability to understand.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Until Piaget came along, most people just expected kids to soak up knowledge.  When he began studying how they learn, understand, and remember based on his conversations with children and his daily interactions with them, his discoveries changed the attitudes (not instantly, but over time) of educators and their approaches to subject matter.  Check out this link for more info:

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree with #2 - Piaget is now famous and mentioned at least in all educational programmes that teach people how to teach. His key contribution to our understanding of pedagogy focuses on cognitive development and how we learn, absorb, process and internalise facts. Thus his psychological contribution into the area of learning and education is absolutely crucial and has helped shaped the educational models that we have in today's society.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Piaget held that knowledge is constructed by the development of the human organism.  Thus, the individual must learn how to learn; a rich, supportive environment and a guiding teacher are key to this individual development of the student.  Thus, such programs as Head-Start for culturally deprived children have evolved from the theories of Piaget.


litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You will often hear teachers talk about developmentally appropriate activities.  Children can do different things at different ages, and teachers will have more success if they design their lessons in accordance.  Piaget's theories will help teachers prevent the introduction of developmentally inappropriate curriculum.

epollock | Student

His vision and understanding of children paves the way for many new ideas in the areas of learning and development. His discovery of stages of development allowed a greater amount of knowledge to be learned at the appropriate times so that it can be retained.