Piaget Workshop Report (May 13, 14 - 2004)
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Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development
May 13-14, 2004, Gandhi Study Center,
Conducted by Ms. L.S.Saraswati
Participants - P. Vidjea, A. Tamilvani, M. Mangai, T. Geetha. P. Kavitha, S. Devakumari, A. Ravi, V. Chandra Rani, K. Mageswaran, Indira Vijaysimha, B. Mariamma, R. Bhavani, Archana Chandra, Mogana, Anita, Shanmuga.
We started with a round of introductions where each of us mentioned our names, if and what we have heard about Jean Piaget and what we wanted to learn from the workshop. L. S. Saraswati introduced herself. She gave each one a slip of paper with adjectives like - innocent, ignorant, mischievous, messy, perseverance, noisy, intense etc and asked each one to pick 5 adjectives that they thought described children based on each one's experiences with children. Question then was - are these labeling, judgments or just observations? Most people said children were active, playful and questioning and exploring.
Each one of us was then asked to say what we considered or meant by cognitive development? Various answers came up. Some said development of five senses, understanding of everything around us, questioning ability, seeing similarities and differences etc. The group agreed upon the following definition - creating mental models which are increasingly closer to the approximation of reality, based on experiences and information from the 5 senses.
Who was Jean Piaget? What then did Piaget have to say about intellectual and cognitive development?
Jean Piaget was a Swiss philosopher, who observed children, even their seemingly wrong answers, and their processes of making sense of the world around them. He was a contemporary of Maria Montessori. Piaget's work revolutionized the American Education system. Piaget's approach is also termed as interactionist and constructivist (children create knowledge, through experiences and interactions).
Piaget identified 6 basic process that form a part of thinking -
What was interesting was that there that were very few things made which needed seriation (ordering based on height/length, shade etc). The reason for this was the materials provided did not give much scope for developing the concept and process of seriation. This further emphasized the fact that these processes of thinking can be only developed if materials/experiences are provided accordingly. Hence it is necessary to provide as many different types of materials as possible.
Another point made was that there are two sub-skills needed for classification - ability to identify a base for classifying and shifting a base for reclassifying. To develop the skill for shifting a base and reclassification, children need to be provided with materials can be classified using different attributes.
Each of the above 6 process develops in stages. These stages are termed as developmental stages by Piaget. Piaget identified 4 developmental stages by observing children and went on to give details of the level of development of each of the 6 processes of thinking in each of these stages. Responses of children to materials/experiences depend on which development stage they are currently in as related to a particular thinking process. Once we understand which stage they are in and connect their responses to these stages, one can prompt them towards better understanding.
Stages of development
She did several examples where she demonstrated children's responses wrt seriation of sticks according to length, classifying according to color/shapes, seriating according to volume etc.
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