The Criticism of Jean Piaget’s Theories.

The Criticism of Jean Piaget’s theories. While conducting intelligence tests on children, Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget began to investigate how children think. According to Piaget, children’s thought processes change as they mature physically and interact with the world around them. Piaget believed children develop schema, or mental models, to represent the world. As children learn, they expand and modify their schema through the processes of assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is the broadening of an existing schema to include new information. Accommodation is the modification of a schema as new information is incorporated.

Criticism of the sensory motor Stage While most develop mentalists accept Piaget’s outline of cognitive growth in infants, there are questions about his measures of assessing their development. It is agreed that object permanence is developed as the child develops an understanding of the permanence of objects, and that uncovering a hidden toy is a demonstration of this, but it is felt that Piaget did not take into account the need for motivation in order for hildren to search, or the fact that very young infants may not have the knowledge of how to search.

Kagan’s theory of object permanence is that 9 month old infants show an ability to search for hidden objects because they have had a growth in memory capacity, rather than because they have a new cognitive structure as stated by Piaget (Kagan, cited in Berger,1988). Other develop mentalists claim that Piaget’s description of sensor motor intelligence overemphasizes the motor aspects of cognitive development to the detriment of the sensory aspects.

Piaget believed children showed intellectual development through their actions, but perception researchers believe that infants know more than they can physically demonstrate with limited motor actions. They have found that newborn infants try to look for sounds, grasp objects and respond to human faces, and believe that perceptual learning occurs, particularly aural, before birth. It is now accepted that Piaget may have underestimated early perceptual abilities and cognitive development during the first six months of life (Beger, 1988).

Criticism of Preoperational Stage It is believed by develop mentalists that the three mountain task that Piaget asked three year old children to solve was too complex to test children’s ability to see someone else’s perspective. It is now believed that young children can see someone else’s point of view in a simple way. Similarly, the conservation tests may also have been too complex, and further research has indicated that if a conservation task was presented in a simplified, fun manner, children were able to understand the concept of it much more easily.

Piaget was correct in that, while children are capable for howing some understanding of these concepts, it does take maturity and experience Criticism of Concrete Operational Stage It is felt that Piaget spent too much time explaining the typical child, and did not take into account the individual differences of children, or the differences caused by heredity, culture and education.

It is felt that he put too much emphasis on the individual’s internal search for knowledge, and not enough on external motivation and teachings (Berger, 1988). Piaget did little research on the emotional and personality development of children and possibly would have been more accurate to iew cognitive development as a gradual and continuous rather than having definite demarcation stages.

Piaget’s information processing approach provides a good way of assessing intelligence and gathering information about memory development and other cognitive processes, but does not take into account the importance of creativity and social interaction (Paplia, Olds, and Feldman, 1998) Criticism of Formal Operation Thought It is believed that Piaget’s last stage of formal operations is not an accurate description of cognitive development. Nearly a half of adults do not attain the level of ormal operations, and not everyone appears to be capable of abstract reasoning.

These people are possibly not cognitively immature, but have different aspects of mature thought not covered by Piaget. Formal logic as defined by Piaget consists of measures such as the pendulum problem and conservation of volume, which indicates that Piaget believes cognition, is bound by mathematics and scientific thinking. However, this form of formal logic is not as important in non-scientific fields such as the arts, history, social understanding and personal Judgment.

It also does ot cover other aspects of mature intelligence such as practical problem solving, and acquired wisdom and experience (Paplia, Olds, and Feldman, 1998). Piaget’s description of overall cognitive events indicates that once a new stage of cognition has been achieved, individuals will reflect it in all areas of their lives. However, it has been shown that cognitive development may occur in some areas of thinking and not in others. A more accepted view of cognition development is that it is an uneven process, with children arriving at each new stage piece by piece as each new skill and ehavior is acquired (Berger, 1988).

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