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Piaget *Missing Works Cited* Piaget work has received world wide acclaim and recognition , as well
as having a positive impact in areas such as education and social
curricula. Though he had made an impact on understanding of the child
cognitive development , his theory of cognitive development has
suffered a great deal of critics that it neglects the social nature of
human development.(Hook, Watts and Cockroft ,2002).So the following
essay will discuss on whether this critic is valid or not based on
detail discussion of Piaget theory. The theory of Vygotsky shall also
be discussed to prove that indeed social factors play a role .

Piaget theory of cognitive development neglects the influence of
social factors on child cognitive development.(Hook et al ,2002)As
stated by Hook et al (2002,p.190)in agreement with critics like
“Piaget theory gave insufficient attention to the ways in which
children social interaction with their sibling or parents may
influence their cognitive development” .Justification of this critic
is provided by the fact that Piaget (1952)saw children as lone
scientist who sought to understand and build knowledge of their
external world through interaction with the world .According to Piaget
as stated in Siegel &Brainerd(1978)cognitive development depend on two
factors , internal maturation and external maturation .That is
children are incapable of learning some tasks until they reached a
certain age When considering cognitive development , Piaget focuses on
the mental processes that occur, rather than on the actual measure of
the cognitive development.

Clearly justification to this critic of insufficient has been provided
by the fact that Piaget sees children as the lone scientists who
sought to understand and build knowledge of their external world their
interaction with it (Hook et al ,2002).According to Piaget
(1960)children actively construct their own cognitive world , he also
stated that information is not just poured into children minds from
the environment .Clearly this critic of insufficient attention to
social factors was justified .According to Piaget (1952)as stated in
Hook et al (2002p180)”much of what child learns begin by accident –The
child accidentally performs some action , perceives it , like it and
then repeats the action assimilating it into her or his existing
schemes . The above quotation provides evidence that Piaget theory
neglected social factors that plays a role on cognitive development of
the child. Piaget devised four stages of development spanning from
birth to adolescence. The stages progress in an invariant sequence, a
child moves systematically through stages and advancement into the
next stage depends on the mastery of the proceeding one (1952) The
succession of stages involves the movement through that four stages.
According to Piaget (1952) Children must move through these stages
during their childhood. These include Sensorimotor, Preoperational,
Concreteoperational, and Formal operational. Stage movement is an
important factor of Piaget's definition of cognitive development,
because Piaget (1960) states that there are a specific set of criteria
that must be met and mastered at each stage. In order to move from the
first stage to the next, the child must master that specific set of
criteria. (Siegel & Brainerd,1978)

One may argue that Piaget uses biological approach, or biological
adaption to discuss the cognitive development of the child. This
includes our reflexes which occur when certain stimuli trigger an
instinctive response. Piaget theory explains how child cognitive
develops through an intellectual regulatory process geared by adaption
to the environment.(Siegel & Brainerd,1978). During this on going
relationship with the environment the child exhibits certain
organisations based upon assimilation, the taking in process of
experience, accepting new encounters and fitting them into existing
schemes, and accommodation , the reaction of the individual who
encounters new experiences that are not consistent with existing
schemes and so the person must change their scheme to accept or
accommodate the new information(Hook et al, 2002,Siegel& brainerd,
Piaget ,1960,Tryphon & voneche,1996 &Maier ,1978) . Piaget felt that a
baby is an active and curious organism, that reaches out and seeks to
regulate a balance between assimilation and accommodation. This
balance is what Piaget describes as equilibrium.

Piaget considered the process of equilibrium an important factor in
the cognitive growth and development of a child.(Piaget , 1952) This
was the ground were he was criticize because he said that children
must be allowed to do their own learning(Piaget,1952). Lourenco &
Machado (1996)in defense of Piaget theory realized that Piaget has
took into consideration the fact that humans progressively develop or
mature to higher states of cognitive development and realized that
children acquire knowledge transmitted by parents, teachers ,and
books, Piaget called this "social transmission." Piaget believed that
when a child hears contradictory statements that challenge established
schemes, equilibrium is disturbed. Piaget called such a disruption in
equilibrium cognitive conflict or disequilibrium. When children
experience cognitive conflict they set out in search of an answer that
will enable them to achieve states of equilibrium.(Lourenco &

Justification of this critique was also provided by Vygotsky theory of
development .Vygotsky (1929) believes that adults and child’s peers
are involved in shaping cognitive development of the child. As stated
by Vygotsky (1929) through social activities a child learns cultural
tools and social inventions .These according to Vygotsky (1929)
includes language, rules and counting. Vygotsky theory is one theory
that has provided justification to the critics that Piaget gave
insufficient attention to social factors.

Mentioned on the second page Piaget (1952) contended that cognitive
development is constructed into four stages .The following paragraph
will examine each stage individually focusing on social factors that
he ignore on each and every stage.

The sensorimotor stage is the first of the four stages Piaget uses to
define cognitive development. Piaget designated the first two years of
an infants life as the sensorimotor stage.

During this period, infants are busy discovering relationships between
their bodies and the environment. Researchers have discovered that
infants have relatively well developed sensory abilities. The child
relies on seeing, touching, sucking, feeling, and using their senses
to learn things about themselves and the environment. Piaget calls
this the sensorimotor stage because the early manifestations of
intelligence appear from sensory perceptions and motor activities.
Through countless informal experiments, infants develop the concept of
separate selves, that is, the infant realizes that the external world
is not an extension of themselves.

According to Piaget(1952)Infants at this stage realize that an object
can be moved by a hand and develop notions of displacement and events.
An important discovery during the latter part of the sensorimotor
stage is the concept of object permanence. Object permananceis the
awareness that an object continues to exist even when it is not in
view. In young infants, when a toy is covered by a piece of paper, the
infant immediately stops and appears to lose interest in the toy.

After a child has mastered the concept of object permanence, the
emergence of directed groping begins to take place. With directed
groping, the child begins to perform motor experiments in order to see
what will happen.(Hook et al, 2002) During directed groping, a child
will vary his movements to observe how the results will differ. The
child learns to use new means to achieve an end. The child discovers
he can pull objects toward himself with the aid of a stick or string,
or tilt objects to get them through the bars of his playpen(Hook et

The concrete operational stage is the third stage in Piaget's theory.
This stage typically occurs between the ages of 7 and 12(Hook et al ,
2002) During this stage, the child begins to reason logically, and
organise thoughts coherently. However, they can only think about
actual physical objects, they cannot handle abstract reasoning. This
stage is also characterized by a loss of egocentric thinking.

During this stage, the child has the ability to master most types of
conservation experiments, and begins to understand
reversibility.(Piaget 1952,Maier,1978 and Hook et al , 2002). The
concrete operational stage is also characterized by the child's
ability to coordinate two dimensions of an object simultaneously,
arrange structures in sequence, and transpose differences between
items in a series.

The formal operational stage is the fourth and final stage in Piaget's
theory. It begins at approximately 11 to 12 years of age, and
continues throughout adulthood, although Piaget does point out that
some people may never reach this stage of cognitive development. The
formal operational stage is characterized by the ability to formulate
hypotheses and systematically test them to arrive at an answer to a

The individual in the formal stage is also able to think abstractly
and to understand the form or structure of a mathematical problem.

Another characteristic of the individual is their ability to reason
contrary to fact. That is, if they are given a statement and asked to
use it as the basis of an argument they are capable of accomplishing
the task. For example, they can deal with the statement "what would
happen if snow were black".

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