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Psychologist Jean Piaget identified stages of mental development, called Schema, and established the fields of cognitive theory and developmental psychology.
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Jean Piaget was born on August 9, 1896, in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Over the course of his career in child psychology, he identified four stages of mental development, called “schema.” He also developed new fields of scientific study, including cognitive theory and developmental psychology. Piaget received the Erasmus Prize in 1972 and the Balzan Prize in 1978. He died on September 16, 1980, in Geneva, Switzerland.
Psychologist Jean Piaget is known for identifying stages of mental development, called “schema,” and for establishing new fields of cognitive theory and developmental psychology.
Biologist and psychologist Jean Piaget was born on August 9, 1896, in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He was his parents’ first child. Piaget’s mother, Rebecca Jackson, attributed his intense early interest in the sciences to his own neurotic tendencies. Yet Piaget’s father, a medieval literature professor named Arthur, modeled a passionate dedication to his studies—a trait that Jean Piaget began to emulate from an early age. At just 10 years old, Piaget’s fascination with mollusks drew him to the local museum of natural history, where he stared at specimens for hours on end. When he was 11 and attending Neuchâtel Latin High School, Piaget wrote a short scientific paper on the albino sparrow. By the time he was a teen, his papers on mollusks were being widely published. Piaget’s readers were unaware of his age and considered him an expert on the topic.
After high school, Piaget went on to study zoology at the University of Neuchâtel, receiving his Ph.D. in the natural sciences in 1918. In 1918, Piaget spent a semester studying psychology under Carl Jung and Paul Eugen Bleuler at the University of Zürich, where Piaget developed a deeper interest in psychoanalysis. Over the course of the next year, he studied abnormal psychology at the Sorbonne in Paris.
In 1920, working in collaboration with Théodore Simon at the Alfred Binet Laboratory in Paris, Piaget evaluated the results of standardized reasoning tests that Simon had designed. The tests were meant to measure child intelligence and draw connections between a child’s age and the nature of his errors. For Piaget it raised new questions about the way that children learn. Piaget ultimately decided that the test was too rigid. In a revised version, he allowed children to explain the logic of their "incorrect" answers. In reading the children’s explanations, he realized that children’s power of reasoning was not flawed after all. In areas where children lacked life experience as a point of reference, they logically used their imagination to compensate. He additionally concluded that factual knowledge should not be equated with intelligence or understanding.
Over the course of his six-decade career in child psychology, Piaget also identified four stages of mental development, called Schema. The first is the "sensorimotor stage," which involves learning through motor actions, and takes place when children are 0–2 years old. During the "preoperation stage," children aged 3–7 develop intelligence by using their natural intuition.
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