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Jean Piaget, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Jean Piaget a Swiss philosopher and Lev Vygotsky a Russian psychologist came up with their own thoughts and theories of children development. Jean Piaget divided development of a child in four stages. These are sensorimotor, pre-operational stage, formal-operational and concrete-operational stage. Vygotsky’s idea and thoughts of development on the other hand was supported on the fundamental notions that children create knowledge, learning leads to development, which cannot be divided from its social perspective, and language plays a major role in the development. Though both theories offer explanations for a child’s development and cognitive learning abilities and styles, they are each different on their view of cognitive development in a child. This essay compares and contrasts these theorists’ ideas and thoughts on development of children from birth to 8 years of age.

There are several similarities with regard to Piaget and Vygotsky’s ideas and thoughts on the stages of development of children from birth to the age of 8 years. Both of them viewed development as a continuous course, which is parallel for all children. Both theorists felt that development was a phase theory, which means that personality stages of cognitive development can be explained and indentified. Their ideas also acknowledged the meaning of private speech or egocentric in children.

Both theorists were influenced by the implications of evolution of Darwin’s theory, which explains some similarity between them, and Piaget’s intellectual heritage was similar to that of Vygotsky. There is some argument as to whether Vygotsky’s theory is certainly a stage theory along with Piaget’s. This is because it is thought that both theories share the idea that development takes places in stages, even though they are different in their main focus.

Both Piaget and Vygotsky agreed that a child’s cognitive development took place in various stages (Woolfolk, 2004). However, they were renowned by various styles of thinking. Piaget was the first one to reveal that a child reasons and thinks differently at different periods of his/her life. He believed that all children grow all the way through the four distinct and different stages of cognitive development.

Both of these theorist’s ideas and thoughts of development have been used in the classroom. Several basic classes use student centered education. This idea of student centered education is necessary to both theorists. This example of classroom cooperative learning is a vital aspect in these theorists’ concept of development. As mentioned earlier, both Piaget and Vygotsky were constructivists and felt that there existed a social nature for learning to take place and children cognitively develop through relationships with their peers.

The major difference between Piaget and Vygotsky’s ideas and thoughts of cognitive development is that Piaget’s stages of development are hierarchical while Vygotsky’s stages are not. It means that for one to progress to the next level or stage in Piaget’s theory, he/she must complete the previous stage while Vygotsky’s theory does not necessarily depend on time.

Another difference is that Piaget’s stages mean that children cognitively develop on their own. This means that a child completes one stage on his/her own without any outside assistance. For example, throughout the stage of sensorimotor, children understand that objects still exist even when they are out of sight; therefore, no social interaction is required for children to understand this. On the other hand, the theory of Vygotsky concentrates more on the interactions and social environment and the help given to children while they develop. For example, children will learn by communicating and interacting with adults and older peers who are more informed and knowledgeable.  While teachers support children as they learn, development takes place, which is also another example of Vygotsky’s social interactions (Lisa, 2004).

The theory of Piaget is mostly interested with the system of acquisition of knowledge and intellectual development, whereas Vygotsky’s foremost target was to our understanding of how culture influences development, all the way through language and the social material system of the society. The idea that the theory of Vygotsky’s was certainly a stage theory was made known by Woolfolk (2004). He demonstrated the theory of Vygotsky as having six stages of cognitive development. These are, affiliation, peer, play, learning, work and theorizing, which begin at birth and carry on throughout the adulthood stage. According to Piaget, cognitive development comprised of four major stages which are, sensorimotor, preoperational stage, concrete and formal operational stages, which finish when adulthood.

Piaget’s theory believed that cognitive development precedes a person to the social world. Therefore, egocentric speech suggests that a child is egotistical and not in a position to consider other people point of views. Piaget still maintains that cognitive development precedes learning.  On the other hand, Vygotsky believed that development starts at the social level and progresses towards individual internalization. Therefore, egocentric speech is viewed as a move between the children’s learning language and attempting to privatize it. Therefore, for Vygotsky, learning comes first before development (Atherton, 2009).

Piaget and Vygotsky contributed significantly towards the sector of child development. Even though their theories and ideas are essentially different, parents and teachers can integrate both as they help their children and students learn and grow.

Reference:

Anastasia, T &, Jacques, V (1996). Piaget-Vygotsky: The Social Genius of Thought: Psychology Press.

Lisa, O. (2004). Cognitive Development. Routledge Modular Psychology Series. Routledge Publishers.

Woolfolk, A. (2004). Psychology of Education. Boston: Allyn and Bacon Publishers.

Slavin, R. (2006). Educational Psychology, Piaget-Vygotsky: Theory and practice. Boston: Pearson

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