Jean Piaget was an influential Swiss psychologist and author who was able to prove something no one thought was true: he discovered that the way children think is unique and completely different from the way adults think. He carefully studied his own three children and created four stages of mental development based on his findings ('Jean Piaget.' DISCovering Authors, Gale, 2003.) He published many books over his long career and was able to greatly influence education at the elementary level in Europe and the United States ('Piaget's Influence On Educational Practices - Minds Of Wonder'). He spent most of his career trying to answer the question; “how do children learn?” He earned many awards over his successful career and was first published at eleven years old. ('Jean Piaget.' Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale, 1998.) Through his research on cognitive development and his influence on education, Jean Piaget became one of the most influential people of the twentieth century.
Jean Piaget was born August 9th 1896 in Neuchatel Switzerland. He was the son of a historian and professor in natural sciences. When Piaget was just eleven years old, his notes were published on a rare albino sparrow. At age fifteen he got a job offer from Geneva’s natural-history museum because of an article he wrote but he turned it down in order to finish his education ('Jean Piaget.' Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale, 1998). He received a PhD. from the University of Neuchatel in 1918 in zoology. He later became interested in psychoanalysis when he worked in a boys institution for a year and helped score IQ tests. He realized how rigid these tests were and became interested in the thinking behind their answers, not just if they were correct . He married a woman named Valentine Chatenay, a psychologist, in 1923. He became even more interested in psychology after studying his own three children. He then created his four stages of mental development based on these studies. ('Jean Piaget's Life And Contributions To Psychology”). Throughout his long career he published many books on his findings. He was also the founder and director of the International Center of Genetic epistemology, Geneva, 1955-80 ('Jean Piaget.' DISCovering Authors, Gale, 2003).
Through his extensive research on children's cognitive development, Jean Piaget was able to split mental growth into four distinct stages. When he studied his own children and interviewed others, he saw that cognitive development was seen in four distinct stages where certain skills were obtained. The first stage is called the sensorimotor stage, you are in this stage from birth to two years old. In this stage babies figure out the world through their senses and motor movement. Babies in this stage develop stranger anxiety and object permanence. This means that they fear people who are not usually around them, and are able to understand that hiding an object does not make it disappear. His next stage is preoperational, children ages two to six. This stage is characterized by pretend play, egocentrism and language development. Piaget's third stage is the concrete operational stage. Kids in this stage are between seven and eleven years old. In this stage, kids are able start thinking logically and are able to grasp concrete analogies. They are also able to perform more complicated math operations. His last stage is the formal operational stage. This stage is age twelve and up. In this stage, children develop abstract reasoning, and potential for higher moral reasoning. His extensive research and interviews with children were the basis for these stages. He was able to see these skills develop at each stage. Piaget was able to split children's cognitive growth into four distinct stages with certain skills and characterizations for each one.
By taking thorough observations and administering many tests, Jean Piaget was able to prove that the way children think is unique and different from the way adults think. When working with Theodor Simon in the Benit Laboratory on developing standardized reasoning tests, he noticed how they were too rigid and number based and not about thought process. He continued to study children and noticed they approached problems more creatively. He saw this in his own children and in the boys in the boys home ('Jean Piaget.' Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale, 1998). He once said “If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by society.” ('Jean Piaget Quotes - Brainyquote'). This quote shows how children are creative by nature but lose this as they grow up in society. This was a breakthrough in the field of psychology because before Piaget it was believed that children were like mini adults ('Piaget's Influence On Educational Practices - Minds Of Wonder').
Piaget published many books on cognitive development that led to changes in teaching styles at the elementary level in the United States and the United Kingdom. He was an author who was able to help reform elementary education in the UK based on his teachings. He taught that children learn best by doing and exploring, not just sitting and memorizing. He also taught to focus on the child’s thinking processes not just their answers. In the UK, the government did a thorough review of primary education. This review led to the publication of the Plowden Report which advocates Piaget's teachings. This shows how his research and books directly affected elementary education ('Piaget's Influence On Educational Practices - Minds Of Wonder').
Piaget also believed that children should not be pushed to learn new concepts before they are ready mentally('The Enduring Influence Of Jean Piaget').He said that children will not understand complex ideas, they will just memorize them. This is not good because it creates a false idea of understanding. This shows why it is not a good idea to push children to learn complex ideals before they are cognitively ready ('Piaget's Influence On Educational Practices - Minds Of Wonder'). His books became popular in the United Kingdom and the United States and still have an impact over fourty years later (“Jean Piaget.' Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale, 1998.)
Jean Piaget was one of the most influential people in the twentieth century due due his breakdown of children's mental growth into stages and his impact on elementary education.
Piaget was an extremely influential psychologist and author, who still has a lasting influence forty years later ('Jean Piaget.' Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale, 1998). He was able to split cognitive development of children into four distinct stages with specific skills gained in each stage. He was also able to prove that the way children think is fundamentally different from the way adults think, which was a new concept created by Piaget. ('Jean Piaget.' DISCovering Authors, Gale, 2003.) His books also heavily influenced education in the United States and Europe.('Piaget's Influence On Educational Practices - Minds Of Wonder') He had a very successful and long career with many accomplishments and discoveries about children's mental growth and development.