A young child usually answers the questions thrown at him by his teacher in the classroom in terms of right or wrong.
How does he discriminate has been studied by Piaget thoroughly:
The child answers what his age comprehends.
He is normal. If he is told his answer is wrong, he might learn to doubt himself, but he would not learn to deal with two variables simultaneously, Piaget says, because he is not yet prepared to ‘structure’ reality as the adult does.
The study of the developing mind means the study of the natural ways in which a biosocial organism grows, learns and matures. The study of development means an understanding of the ways which we can use to facilitate the process of development by improving our present form of intervention or inventing new ones. We are not to speed up the process forcefully—not to accelerate development, which is not the same as improving the social influences or experiences that are psychological and physiological components of growing up. Therefore, the school should always take proper account of the process of development.
A major problem in the application of Piaget to education is that his work is concerned with the development of fundamental knowledge and intelligence of the child, whereas schools are interested in the child’s acquisition of skills and information. In spite of the fact that the two are related, the problem lies in the emphasis each places on. Nevertheless, schools concentrating on skills and information has to depend upon the fundamental knowledge as a basic requirement and as acquired through action upon and interaction with the environment.
With this realization the current practice in modern education advances propositions to employ the basic pedagogical principles of Piaget in the classrooms:
(1) The first principle drawn from Piaget’s theory is the view that learning has to be an active process, because knowledge is a construction from within.
(2) A second principle suggests the importance of social interactions .among children in school. Piaget believed strongly that for intellectual development the cooperation among children is as important as the child’s cooperation with the adults.
(3) A third principle points to the priority of intellectual activity based on actual experiences rather than on language. Language is important but not at the expense of original thinking. It is necessary to let go the preoperational child go through one stage after another giving the wrong answers before expecting him to have adult logic and adult language Piaget’s theory has helped the teachers and teacher trainers to make some progress in recognizing the importance of concrete experiences prior to using words.
Piaget’s biological theory of intelligence states that intelligence is a general coherent framework within which all the cognitive parts function. He emphasized the pole of action in perception that recognition requires perceptual activities, i.e. the moving of the eyes, hands, or feet to center on various points of the particular special configuration to construct it actively. What is important in perception is active mental construction of the spatial configuration. His theory has been often, however, criticized as a psychology that focuses on sensory information and motor behaviour resulting in the conceptualization of goals and teaching methods involving skills rather than on the child’s entire cognitive frame-work.
The pedagogical implications of Piagetian theory suggests the kind of reform that makes learning truly active and encourages social interactions among pupils to cultivate the critical spirit. The teacher in a Piagetian school does not present readymade knowledge and morality, but rather provides opportunities for the child to construct his own knowledge and moral standards through his own reasoning.
The emphasis of a Piagetian school is on the child’s own thinking and judgment rather than the use of correct language and adult logic. But still Piagetian theory clings to the old cliche’s of old order of education—educating the “whole child”, the individual differences, teaching of children to think, the encouraging of initiative and curiosity and the desirability of intrinsic motivation. Nevertheless, Piagetian theory gives more precise guidelines to translate the old ideals into actual practice.