Swiss theorist Jean Piaget is known for his insights into cognitive and developmental theory, later proliferating what is now known as, “genetic epistemology” (Corry 1996). Growing up in Switzerland with his professor father and French mother, Piaget had a profound interest in zoology and the natural world. This resulted in his publishing of various research papers on mollusks by the time he turned fifteen due to sheer curiosity. He sought education in Switzerland at both the University of Neuechatel and later at the University of Zurich (Presnell 2015). After moving to, and later teaching in France, he met his would-be wife, Valentine and married in 1923. Piaget had three children, which became observation subjects for him from infancy. In his life, he held positions at the University of Neuechatel, the University of Geneva, and the Sorbonne in Paris (Presnell 2015).
Overview of the Theory
As a self-described, “genetic epistemologist,” Piaget was interested in how knowledge develops throughout a lifetime, specifically with children. This cognitive development theory is known as “Stage Theory,” a comprehensive set of observations made by Piaget that detail four stages in which human intelligence development occurs (Huitt et al 2003). Rooted firmly in evolution and biology, Piaget’s Stage Theory articulates key differences in the growth of individual’s throughout their early life. He believed that everyone passes through the four stages in exactly the same order. The stages are as follows: The Sensorimotor Stage, The Preoperational Stage, The Concrete Operational Stage, and the Formal Operations Stage (Woolfolk 2013).
The Sensorimotor stage occurs in infancy, focusing mainly on object permanence, o...
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... examine his findings with an open mind and from a different perspective. As someone who loves philosophy and critical theory, I think that it is vital to examine something within its historical, social, and cultural context. The same is true with educational theory and psychology: just because Sigmund Freud’s only lasting contribution to the operating paradigm of contemporary psychology is that unconscious thinking dominates our everyday lives doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t read and encounter his debunked research. Any historical writing gives insight into the time period, and the same is true with Piaget. Even though his Stage Theory is not necessarily widely accepted in every aspect, I found it to be beneficial to begin to seriously learn about childhood development. This insight is foundational and regardless of contemporary thought, it bears reason to study it.
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