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Jean Piaget's Theory of Intelligence in Children

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Throughout history many people have made amazing contributions to the school of psychology. Jean Piaget, a Swiss philosopher, was a developmental psychologist in the early half of the nineteenth century who was one of the first to suggest that cognitive development begins at birth. He was originally trained as a biologist but became interested in psychology while searching for the beginning of intelligence. He coined the term genetic (developmental) epistemology to describe his unique approach to the study of knowledge (Pulaski, 1980, p. 3). He believed that a child's brain is different from an adult's brain and that there are stages that the brain has to go through developmentally to be considered totally matured. Research methods he used were verbal interviews, observations of ongoing behavior and the developmental-descriptive approach. This last approach is to find out what behaviors develop with age (Flavell, 1963, p. 423). Some of his work has been criticized for accuracy because the major source of his inspiration was observations of his own three children. Developmental psychologists debate also whether or not children actually go through these four stages in the way that Piaget proposed. Despite the criticism, Piaget has had a major influence on the future of education, interest in child development and developmental psychology. His work has been significant to sociology because the processes of thought are central to the development of identity and consequently to the ability to function in society (Tischler, 2011, p. 82). There are four levels of cognitive growth: sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational and formal operational. People whose thinking is at the highest level of formal operations are those who work out the structures of atoms, design computers or plan explorations of outer space (Revenson & Singer, 1996, p. 30). Einstein's theory of relativity would be at the formal operational level of cognitive development. Einstein is reputed to have said of Piaget's theory "it is so simple that only a genius could have thought of it" (Revenson & Singer, 1996, p. 217).

All children pass through the sequence of stages of development in order to achieve an adult level of intellectual functioning and be considered matured. The debate about nurture vs. nature in determining a person's abilities whether inherited or from socialization is also found in the process of transitioning into each stage. Some children pass through the stages at a different rate. Piaget admits that the child who has a good mental inheritance and an environment that encourages creative experimentation may develop logical structures at an earlier age. (Pulaski, 1980, p. 34).

In this paper, I will discuss how Piaget's theory relates to sociology in developing an individual into a mature adult able to function in society. When a child is born they rely on their caregivers to meet their basic needs and as they grow that person will also teach them intellectual, physical, social skills and to function as a member of society. A child is not capable of thinking like an adult because he does not yet have the logical structures, the organizations of though and the methods of reasoning that would enable him to deal with adult problems (Revenson & Singer, 1996, p. 12). Through stages of cognitive growth, emotional and physical development milestones a child becomes a productive mature individual in society. The first stage of cognitive development happens from birth to 2 years old and within this the child goes through six sub stages. As far as sociology is concerned there isn't a marked progression of logical, moral or formal reasoning abilities of the child because they are still seeing the world in an egocentrically way. The second stage is called the pre-operational stage from 2 to 7 years old it is also known as the "age of curiosity". Every mother



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