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Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget(August 9, 1896 - September 16, 1980), a professor of psychology at the University of Geneva from 1929 to 1954, was a French Swiss developmental psychologist who is most well known for organizing cognitive development into a series of stages.

For example, he outlines four stages of cognitive development:

  1. Sensorimotor
  2. Preoperational
  3. Concrete Operational
  4. Formal Operational

These four stages have the following characteristics:

  1. invariant sequence
  2. universal (not culturally specific)
  3. related to cognitive development. but...
  4. generalizable to other functions
  5. stages are logically organized wholes
  6. hierarchical nature of stage sequences (each successive stage incorporates elements of previous stages, but is more differentiated and integrated)
  7. stages represent qualitative differences inmodes of thinking, not merely quantitative differences

Piaget's theory supposes that people develop schemas (conceptual models) by either assimilating or accommodating new information. These concepts can be explained as fitting information in to existing schemas, and altering existing schemas in order to accommodate new information, respectively.

Although some of Piaget's ideas are similar to those of Lev Vygotsky, Piaget was apparently unaware of Vygotsky's work. Originally a marine biologist, with a specialization in the molluscs of Lake Geneva, he embarked on his studies of developmental biology when he observed the way his infant daughters came to grips with and then mastered the world around them.

Piaget's theories of psychological development have proved influential. Among others, the philosopher and social theorist Jürgen Habermas has incorporated them into his work, most notably in The Theory of Communicative Action.

Piaget also had a considerable impact in the field of computer science. Seymour Papert used Piaget's work while developping the Logo programming language. Alan Kay used Piaget's theories as the basis for the Dynabook programming system concept, which was first discussed within the confines of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, or Xerox PARC. These discussions led to the development of the Alto prototype, which explored for the first time all the elements of the GUI, or Graphical User Interface, and influenced the creation of all of the user interfaces which were to appear in the 1980s, the 1990s and beyond.

Piaget authored of The Child's Conception of the World (1926), The Origin of Intelligence in Children (1936), The Early Growth of Logic in the Child (1958).

See also: Lawrence Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development




More Great Thinkers and Great Minds
Marie Curie
Pablo Picasso
Edwin Hubble
Jean Piaget
Robert Boyle
Rene Descartes
Miguel de Cervantes
Friedrich Nietzsche
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Gary Kasparov
Galileo Galilei
Dmitri Mendeleev
Albert Einstein
Isaac Newton
Leonhard Euler
Enrico Fermi
Joseph Louis Lagrange
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Bernhardt Riemann
Kurt Gödel
William Shakespeare
Betrand Russell
Charles Darwin
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Leo Tolstoy
Niels Bohr
Linus Pauling
Leonardo Da Vinci
Blaise Pascal
Michael Faraday
James Clerk Maxwell
Alan Turing
Sigmund Freud
Gottfried Leibniz
Max Planck
Aleksandr Pushkin
Ivan Pavlov
Pierre de Fermat



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