Jean Piaget - Psychology and Learning
Jean Piaget (1896-1980)
Swiss educational psychologist (pictured right).
What did he say about education and learning?
1. Children learn gradually
Children aren’t less intelligent than adults, but they think and learn differently
in four different stages:
a) sensorimotor stage (first two years)
Babies learn about the world through their senses like looking, listening and
b) pre-operational stage (age two to seven)
Learning to arrange objects logically:
Age 2-4 - thinking in absolute terms (e.g. big or biggest).
Age 4-7 - using relative terms (e.g. bigger or heavier).
c) concrete operational stage (around age seven to twelve)
Learning through understanding the quantity and quality of actual
(for example, the same liquid can be placed in one big or smaller equivalent containers).
d) formal operational stage (from around age 12)
So learning should be an active process (see point 2) that involves children in activities
appropriate to each of the above four stages.
2. Self-discovery is vital
The teacher shouldn’t tell children what they should know but help them discover knowledge for
themselves, continually changing their idea of truth through:
So a teacher should act as a mentor and an enabler, constantly
3. Creativity is cool
The main aim of education is to produce creative people.
So children must be encouraged to
4. Learning is adapting knowledge
People learn through “equilibration” - balancing:
5. Knowledge in categories
As we learn, we organize knowledge into different categories, modifying or changing them as our
Key quotes on education and
Education means making creators.
The goal of education is to create men and women who are capable of doing new things
Children have real understanding only of that which they invent themselves.
Coercion is the worst of teaching methods.
Key quote on
The common wealth of all civilizations is the education of the child.
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