Jean Piaget
Is it time to reevaluate his theories?

Few people have had more influence on schooling in the 20th century than Jean Piaget, the Swiss biologist and developmental psychologist.
But many modern developmental psychologists, brain-researchers and effective teachers are now querying some of Piaget's main theories.

In brief, Piaget claimed that children everywhere in every culture grow through a fixed sequence of intellectual growth-stages from infancy to adulthood.

Italy's famed educator Maria Montessori also proposed that children develop in sequence. But both researchers disagreed on the exact timing of that sequence.

Piaget believed that children had specific periods of "cognitive" or intellectual development, with children not reaching their "concrete operational" stage until age seven. Followers of his theories have therefore urged that specific "skills" such as reading and writing should not be developed until that "concrete operational" stage.

Montessori, on the other hand, believed that, while children have specific "sensitive" periods for development, they should be encouraged to develop all of their senses from a very early age, and that self-learning should be based on the way those senses develop. As a result, most Montessori preschool centers encourage children to develop, from the first year of life, a series of sequenced skills that lead to fluent writing by age four and reading around the same age.

Yet other researchers say it is easy to teach children to read at an even younger age by using the latest brain research.

The world's biggest-selling non-fiction book in 1999, The Learning Revolution, provides easy-to-read comparisons behind the various developmental theories and, more importantly, shows what works best in practice.

Co-authors Gordon Dryden and Dr. Jeannette also provide an excellent summary of various theories of curriculum development, down the ages. And they come down strongly on the side of "no dogma: use commonsense and pick the best from all theories but only if it works in practice."

  • Click here for a Piaget / Montessori comparison.  
  • Click here to read about early development.  
  • Click here for summary of curriculum theories. 
  • Click here to see the full book contents. 
  • Click here to visit The Learning Revolution Library. 


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The Learning Revolution - Piaget

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