What contribution did Jean Piaget make to the understanding of child development.

Essay by ronan_fennessyUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, April 2003

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"I am a constructivist. I think that knowledge is a matter of constant, new construction, by its interaction with reality, and that it not pre-formed. There is a continuous creativity" (www.time.com/time/time100/scientist/profile/piaget.html). This quote is from Jean Piaget a Swiss psychologist born in 1896 who, through studies of his own three children tried to better understand how children acquire knowledge and intellectual thought. To this day, Piaget's work is still highly criticized although it was ground breaking at the time. Throughout this dissertation, the author will discuss Piaget's main theories and also will juxtapose them with the work of other psychologists in the field of child development.

In 1919, Piaget went to the Sorbonne University in Paris, while in Paris Piaget worked at Binet laboratories on the standardization of intelligence tests. Piaget then left and set up his own research programme, he integrated his own experiences of psychiatric work with the questioning and observational strategies that he had learned whilst in Paris.

Out of this synthesis emerged, what Piaget has been known for, the clinical interview - "an open-ended, conversational technique for eliciting children's thinking process" (Smith and Cowie, 1988, p.315). An example of this type of interview technique would be as follows:

Adult: Does the moon move or not?

Child: When we go, it goes.

Adult: What makes it move?

Child: We do.

Adult: How?

Child: When we walk. It goes by itself

(Piaget, 1929, pp.146-7)

This is a typical example of how Piaget conducts his interview with children is his experimenting with. This and more techniques were widely used by Piaget in his attempt to understand the development of the child. To demonstrate how Piaget conducted his research the author will now go onto exemplify the four main stages.

Piaget claimed that children passed through a series of stages...