Assessing Piaget

American developmental psychologists became intensely interested in Piaget's theory during the 1960s. Piaget continues to influence educational psychology. Particularly influential is Piaget's main point: that children develop an appreciation of basic concepts slowly, and there is no reason to teach something before a child is in the proper developmental stage to appreciate it. Piaget's theory provides a rationale for taking it slow and easy with little children, because children have biological limits on what they can learn at early ages.

What is an influence Piaget continues to have upon educational psychology? What are some criticisms of Piaget?


Piaget's studies in cognitive development showed that educators need not attempt to introduce high level concepts to small children.

Perhaps the most severe criticism of Piaget is that he did not perform well-controlled scientific experiments. His conservation experiments were demonstrations, not experiments in the modern sense. He did not gather statistics or analyze his data like modern researchers. Yet he rebuffed or ignored criticisms. By the time he drew the attention of American psychologists, Piaget was already a highly respected authority figure in Europe. He did not feel obligated to live up to the standards of American psychologists with their obsessive concern for scientific controls.

Piaget may not have been a great practitioner of scientific method, but he was a good observer and original thinker, and he had an enormous impact on developmental and educational psychology.


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