Week Four – October 1 . 2012
Children are scientists:
- Naturally curious
- Make sense of their world by constructing their own understanding
- Create their own theories; some are incomplete
Tools that help children discover:
Assimilation: new experiences are incorporated into existing theories; ex. dog licking face, they know that dogs are
their house licks their face and bark, when they see a relative’s dog they wonder if that dog does the same, when they
see what it does and what else it does; they add it to their theory.
Accommodation: theories are modified based on experiences; ex. same child meets cat; they think it looks like a dog but
they have to make a whole new theories; when the theories we have are incomplete or incorrect and we have a new
experiences it means we have to fix that theories or make a new one.
Equilibrium: assimilate experiences into existing theories; comfortable state; new experiences work into our old theory.
Disequilibrium: more accommodation occurs and causes cognitive discomfort; replace old theories with new ones to
return to equilibrium; more work because you are revising old theories.
Schemes: mental structures that are organized ways of making sense of experiences; created through equilibrium;
active and always changing; you are always shaping your schemes.
Piaget believed there were 4 stages in exact stages; the stages cannot be skipped; ages are approximate, a child can
move slowly or quickly through the stages; at every stage different cognitive activity occurs.
- Birth to 2 years
- “think” with eyes, ears, hands and other sensory equipment; move from simple reflexes to symbolic
representation (ex. pretending)
- 6 sub stages:
1) Basic Reflexes (birth to 1 month) – sucking, grasping, and looking.
2) Primary Circular Reactions (1 to 4 months) – accidentally produce pleasing event and tries to
recreate it; ex. Sucking their thumb; may have been trying to grab something and thumb ended up
in mouth; they try to recreate the feeling.
3) Secondary Circular Reactions (4 to 8 months) – repeated actions that involve an object; on purpose;
ex. Using a mobile, they know they can make it move so they hit it.
4) Intentional Behaviour (8 – 12 months) – means are distinct from an end; ex. Father puts hand on
toy, so child moves hand and takes hand (moving hand is the mean to get the toy, the end).
5) Tertiary Circular Reactions (12 to 8 months) – repeats old actions with new objects; different
outcomes with different objects, ex. Shaking objects
6) Symbols (18 to 2 years) – capacity to use symbols; ex. Words and gestures, pretend play.
o Object permanence – objects continue to exist when out of sight; children 4 – 8 month olds do not
search for hidden objects because they believe they are gone; usually happens during age 8 – 12 months Preoperational Stage:
- 2 to 7 years
- Symbolic representation: symbols can represent objects and events
- Ex. Words and gestures, make-believe play, drawing, graphs, maps and models
o Egocentrism – difficulty seeing world from another’s point of view; ex. 3 mountain problem, if kids can
pick the picture the doll can see or if they can only understand what they see.
o Centration – narrow focused thought/tunnel vision; they focus on one particular trait they cant think of
anything else; ex. Cant understand something is the same even though the physical body has changed;
conservation task: important characteristics of objects stay the same, despite changes in physical
appearance; ex. Numbers, length, mass, liquid and weight;
Ex. 4 year old Alison: she clearly counts the objects and watches the water being poured but
continues to answer incorrectly.
- Why children make these mistakes in this stage:
Reversibility: ability to conduct steps of problem in reverse order
Animistic thinking: give inanimate objects life and lifelike properties; attribute own thoughts and feelings to others.
Concrete Operational Stage:
- 7 to 11 years
- Thought becomes logical, flexible and organized
- Mental operations: strategies and rules that make thinking systematic and powerful (solving problems and
reasoning); rules for thinking are more systematic, ex. Categories and numbers; mothers and father = parents.
- Decentration: change in one aspect (height of water) is compensated by change in ano