Cognitive Development Theory Essay

1716 words - 7 pages

A. Cognitive Development Theory

In a general sense the theory of cognitive development is not just a single theory but a number of theories offered by a number of cognitive psychologists over the past century. In summary though, cognitive development is the processes by which learning is developed by the construction of thought processes, memory, solving problems, decision-making and covers the life span from childhood to adulthood, but learning does not necessarily stop with adulthood. This construction process is clinically known as “Constructivism”. In constructivism it is not the world, or society that is developing a child but it is the child that is taking in information and constructing themselves with the information that the society they live in has accumulated over previous generations.

Jean Piaget’s (1896-1980) theory of constructivism states that children are only able to learn up to a certain level of development and once a biological mile stone mark has been reached then they will be able to take in new information and knowledge adding to their already acquired knowledge. If a level of knowledge that is beyond a child’s current level of understanding they will be unable to understand what is being presented to them, and it’s the biology of the brain that determines when a child will be able to continue to the next higher level of information. Piaget placed these markers or “takes off” points at the ages of 18 months, 7 years, and 12 years of age. This theory is view much like building a house with each phase of construction needed to be completed before the next phase can begin hence the term constructivism. In other words society can only give a certain level of knowledge to a child and anything higher would only confuse the child and possibly block them from further learning. In this theory educators are working like gate keepers of knowledge and the only way in which to determine if a child is ready for the next level of learning is to objective test their knowledge from the phase of growth they just pasted through. This progression is processed by assimilation, and/or accommodation. Assimilation is when information about the world is incorporated into the child’s existing schema. Accommodation is when a new schema is formed in order to understand information about the world. For Piaget infants are born with pre-determined schemas, but as assimilation ad accommodation occurs these pre-existing schemas are replaced with constructed schemas. When the child is relaxed and comfortable then there is balance between a child’s schemas and the world around them (Huitt, W., & Hummel, J., 2003).

In Piaget’s stages of age development he labeled them as the sensori-motor, the pre-operational, the concrete operational, and the formal operational stage and regardless of the child’s social background they must go through these stages in order to develop cognitively. He used two primary examples to illustrate that children from any...

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