In his cognitive developmental theory, Piaget suggests that children are motivated explorers and when they get in touch with the environment their thought process evolve and expand. Children also have the ability to form and transform psychological structures until they find the perfect state to fit the reality, Piaget also believed that communication within peers is an important part of cognitive development.
Children achieve knowledge through being active in their environment, so, they are involved in their own development. The society that surrounds children has an important role in their developmental process. (Boyd, D. & Bee, H. ,2012) He stated in 1927 that the development of the child is equivalent to his adaptation in the social and even physical environment, also completing that social life is a necessary case for the development of logic. From that, it is believed, as stated by Piaget, that social life can completely change an individuals character and personality.
(P.Lloyd,C.Fernyhough, 1999) Piagets theory is a foundation on which constructionist theories are established.(Wood, K.
C., Smith, H., Grossniklaus, D. ,2001) Regarding the development of knowledge and learning, Piaget explains that these two subjects are in fact very different.
Starting with the development of knowledge which according to Piaget is a process entirely connected to the embryogenesis process. Embryogenesis concerns not only the physical development, but it also concerns the development of the nervous system as well as the development of mental functions. Piaget suggests that this total developmental process must be resituated in the general biological and psychological context. Learning, on the other hand, is an entirely opposite subject, learning must be provoked, for example, by a teacher or an external situation, it is also a limited process to a single problem or to a single structure. One cant achieve knowledge by copying the reality, in order to know an object or an event one must act on the object, modify and transform it so he can understand the process of transformation and eventually how the object is constructed. It is known that Piaget categorized cognitive development in four primary stages, which are sensorimotor, pre operational, concrete operational and formal operational. Piaget assumed that all children go through these stages to achieve the next level of cognitive development. Upon every new stage children show new intellectual abilities and progressively complex understanding of the world (Wood, K.
C., Smith, H., Grossniklaus, D. ,2001). Each of the stages gradually increase the degree of equilibrium. When an individual comes to the final stage, this individual has reached the state of full equilibrium which incorporates a set of operations that act on suggested stimuli that affects the logical structure of a “grouping” (smith, leslie , 1996). Because intelectual development always comes in sequence it is impossible to miss a stage.
The age at which a child develop vary along with the invironmental background (Wood, K. C., Smith, H., Grossniklaus, D. ,2001). Starting with the first stage, sensori-motor (0-2years),this stage is based on physical interactions and experiences, so, knowledge is restricted.
children at this age continually experiment and learn by trying and failing. As the child becomes more moving his developing skill progress. Early language and memory development also appears during this stage. (Wood, K. C., Smith, H., Grossniklaus, D.
,2001) although there is no socialization and Piaget himself typify this stage as “individualistic” or even “autistic” (Smith, Leslie,1996), we can observe a behavior that can be called, intelligent. A child can set a goal and use a means to get it. For example, if 12 months child wants an object which is placed too far from him the child pulls it in order to get. That we can call an act of intelligence. We can already observe structures in the sensimotor-stage , this stage depends on the action, movement and the perception of the child, without language. (Bruce A. Marlowe, Alan S. Canestrari, 2006) The second stage : pre operational period (2-7 years) ,the child begin to use language and also develops memory and imagination.
Children start to understand the connection between past and future . Intelligence can be istuitive but not yet logical.(Wood, K. C., Smith, H.
, Grossniklaus, D. ,2001). The toddler can’t empathise with the point of view of others and because of this shortage of differentiation Piaget defines this period as egocentrism. (Smith, Leslie,1996). Continuing with the third stage : the concrete operational period (7-12 years) At the age around seven to eight an additional system of operation appears, the operation of serializing that is the capability to arrange things ,for example, acoording to their color or weight. This structure depends on concrete operations considering it consist of manipulating concrete objects.
(Bruce A. Marlowe, Alan S. Canestrari, 2006) Another significant change is that the child is able to distinguish his point of view from that of others and co ordinate different ones, discussion and cooperation also appear in this stage.(Smith, Leslie,1996) Last stage is the formal operational (adolescence –adulthood) At about eleven or twelve years aproximately importan progress can be noticed, the individual becomes adept to reason on the base of objects and also on the base of hypothesis and of propositions(Bruce A. Marlowe, Alan S. Canestrari, 2006) This is the stage that the social and cultural impact becomes powerful and the person understands his culture better.(Smith, Leslie,1996) Over the years there have been some critics about Piagets theory , as many psychologists believe that Piaget gives development a negative representation, this believe is supported by interpretations of Piaget portraying preschool children to be illogical and incompentent as well as development from one stage to another is a passage from a stage of absence to stage of presence. To a lot of authors these observations are a serious weak point.
To begin with for Piaget there is no exact beginning in development and there is no period of absolute lack of competence before the appearence of it, also Piaget didnt support the evidence of cognitive incompentence but argued for the absence of evidence for cognitive compentence. Secondly there is a continuity of growing tranformation as well as differentiation and integration, so development does not just happen as a change from absence to presence. This continuity between the biological and psychological functioning as well as within the psychological functioning itself was always maintained by Piaget. (O. , Lourenco, A. , Machado , 1996)