Jean Piaget was a Swiss-born biologist, psychologist, and philosopher who developed the theory of cognitive development for children. Piaget was the codirector of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute in Geneva, Switzerland; director of the International Office of Education; and on staff at the Universities of Paris and Geneva.
Piaget’s academic work led him to the conclusion that life consisted of totalities affecting the thinking processes. Turning to the discipline of psychology, Piaget studied under Carl Jung and worked with Alfred Binet’s colleague Theodore Simon to understand intelligence testing. Professor Piaget worked with and studied both children and the teaching process. His writings ultimately influenced a variety of academic disciplines, such as developmental psychology, education, primatology, philosophy, artificial intelligence, and cognitive and human intelligence.
Piaget’s theory of cognitive development identified four stages: infancy, preschool, childhood, and adolescence. At each stage, a child’s understanding is affected by the world in which the child resides. Knowledge is derived from both within and outside the child. The child tests the accumulated knowledge at each stage to reject, modify, or reconstruct the information by assimilation and accommodation processing before advancing to the next stage. The knowledge is organized into schemes for future use.
Piaget was a prolific writer. His major writings include The Origins of Intelligence in Children (1936), Intelligence and Affectivity (1954), The Psychology of Intelligence (1963), Genetic Epistemology (1970), and Memory and Intelligence (1973).
- Ginsburg, H. (1988). Piaget’s theory of intellectual development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Palmer, J. A. (Ed.). (2001). Fifty modern thinkers on education. London: Routledge.
- Piaget, J. (1997). The moral judgment of the child. New York: Free Press.
- Wadsworth, B. J. (1996). Piaget’s theory of cognitive and affective development. New York: Longman.
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