Jean Piaget Biography (1896-1980)

The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.
-Jean Piaget

Best Known for:

Birth and Death:

  • Born August 9, 1896
  • Died September 16, 1980

Jean Piaget’s Early Life:

Jean Piaget was born in Switzerland in 1896 and began showing an interest in the natural sciences at a very early age. By age 11, he had already started his career as a researcher by writing a short paper on an albino sparrow. He continued to study the natural sciences and received his Ph.D. in Zoology from University of Neuch√Ętel in 1918.

Theory:

Piaget identified himself as a genetic epistemologist. “What the genetic epistemology proposes is discovering the roots of the different varieties of knowledge, since its elementary forms, following to the next levels, including also the scientific knowledge,” he explained in his book Genetic Epistemology. Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that is concerned with the origin, nature, extent, and limits of human knowledge. He was interested not only in the nature of thought, but in how it develops and understanding how genetics impact this process.

His early work with Binet’s intelligence tests had led him to conclude that children think differently than adults. It was this observation that inspired his interest in understand how knowledge grows throughout childhood.

He suggested that children sort the knowledge they acquire through their experiences and interactions into groupings known as schemas. When new information is acquired, it can either be assimilated into existing schemas or accomodated through revising and existing schema or creating an entirely new category of information.

Today, he is best known for his research on children’s cognitive development. Piaget studied the intellectual development of his own three children and created a theory that described the stages that children pass through in the development of intelligence and formal thought processes.

The theory identifies four stages; (1) the sensorimotor stage, (2) the preoperational stage, (3) the concrete operational stage, and (4) the formal operation stage.

Contributions to Psychology:

Piaget provided support for the idea that children think differently than adults and his research identified several important milestones in the mental development of children. His work also generated interest in cognitive and developmental psychology. Piaget’s theories are widely studied today by students of both psychology and education.

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Read more  @ http://psychology.about.com/od/profilesofmajorthinkers/p/piaget.htm

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