Discuss How Piaget’s Cognitive-Developmental Theory Explains Child Development


1. Discuss how Piaget’s cognitive-developmental theory explains child development. List and explain the four stages of development discussed by Piaget.

Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory sets a solid foundation for understanding the underlying effects of how genetics, basic needs, environmental and social factors determine our early cognitive-development. The theory is broken down into 4 stages; sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational period.

Sensorimotor – Ages 0 to 2 years: simple relaxes, first habits, development of habits, first vision/eye-hand coordination, experiment with environment, internalization of behaviors = creativity/insight
Preoperational –
Symbolic function substage- Age 2 to 4: child begins to learn to speak at age two and lasts up until the age of seven, Children’s increase in playing and pretending takes place in this stage. However, the child still has trouble seeing things from different points of view, the questions of “why?” and “how come?” – Weakness of ages is ego, artificialism and transductive reasoning.
Intuitive thought substage – Age 4 to 7: children tend to become very curious and ask many questions, beginning the use of primitive reasoning. There is an emergence in the interest of reasoning and wanting to know why things are the way they are. Weakness – a>b>c hard time distinguishing categories and subcategories, size/volume comparisons etc.
Concrete operational – Age 7 to 11: characterized by the appropriate use of logic. Understands inductive but not deductive reasoning. Understand others perspectives. Weakness – understands concrete reasoning; not abstract.
Formal operational period – Ages 11 to 20: Intelligence is demonstrated through the logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts. Use deductive reasoning.

My Thoughts / experiences:

Ultimately, I believe that this is a great model for child cognitive development but believe the limitation of the theory is its linearity. Humans do not develop linearly because genetic, environmental or social factors can limit/increase our ability to cognitively develop. For instance, my nephew was recently tested for autism which resulted in a negative result, however, it was determined that he had an issue with his ears. Essentially, his genetics had an effect on his language skills because he could not hear; after the surgery he became quite the talker. Additionally, I do not think that Piaget’s theory takes into account the social and environmental factors that can influence development. Humans don’t live in a bubble and our social and physical environment can affect our development, hence, divorces, lose of family members, wars, migrations can all have lasting effects on our cognitive development. Essentially, I believe that Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory is a great approximation of cognitive development but it is not the rule.

2.Describe the four main types of interaction between genetic and environmental influences on children’s development.

Humans have long been debating the merits of Nature Vs Nurture which has lead scientists and philosophers to develop four main viewpoints on the genetic and environmental influences on child development; Development by Nature, Development by Nurture, Development by Part Nurture and Nature and Development Results from the Interaction of Nature and Nurture. Each of the four views points have a place in human history as they were prevalent thoughts that dedicated many social, economic and environmental movements. Ultimately, it is important to understand the history of what lead to the discussion of Nature VS Nurture and how it continues to play a part in our political and educational systems.

Development is driven by nature:
Is driven by the early biblical ideas of “original sin” which center around the ideas of good and evil. The prevail thought towards development was that embryo’s/infants were already a miniture adult and their anatomy and behaviors were already determined, called preformationism or nativism. By nature you were born good or evil. Your genetics determine who you are.
Preformationism or nativism was further perpetuated by ideas of genetic determinism which place internal factors, natural and genetic, as factors that are in control of development not the environment.
A by-product of these ideologies was Eugenics, which is the idea that there are favorable genes and people with superior genetics should procreate. I.e Hitler & Ayran Race or US eliminating mentally ill people from the population.
Development is drive by nurture
A counter idea to the nature, was John Locke’s “The Blank Slate” which was the idea that an infant was a unmold piece of clay that was molded solely by the environment that it developed in. There are no genetic factors at play, strictly your environment and experiences dictate who you will become.

Development is part nurture and nature
Rousseau looked at children as innocent babies that develop according to nature’s plans, much as a flower grows in response to its environment. The soil, water, weather etc all play a part in the development much like our environment, social and economics factors affect our human development.
Heritability, traits influenced by genetic factors, furthered the discussion of part nurture and nature when used to compare different types of twins and adoption cases. Based on studies, the twins similarities were presumably determined to be genetic and their differences were presumably attributed to environmental factors of living with different parents.
Shared experiences VS Non-shared experiences

Development results from the interaction of nature and nurture.
Darwin’s theory of “Survival of the Fittest” and “Natural Selection” further demonstrated the interconnectedness of Nature Vs Nurture. Essential, “Survival of the Fitness” comes down to genetic traits; who is the strongest and most adapted. “Natural Selection” is how the environment can affect development or the elimination of a species or traits; lack of food, natural disasters, comets etc.
Epigenesis – is the contemporary idea that both genetic and environmental factors come into play. There are no guarantees as a number of genetic and environmental factors can affect the development of identical twins or family members; different weights, hair/eye color, space, food etc.. Aaron Rogers Vs Ex QB/Bachelor winner/sports analysis Brother.

My Thoughts / experiences:

Essentially, humans do not live in a bubble and our social, economics and location affect our development. Although, our genetics lay the foundation for our skills and abilities they will not be the sole factor. Both the environment and our genes work together to dictate our developmental outcomes. Ie Just because your parents are 6’5 does not mean you will be 6’5 if you get sick or didn’t have access to food during development. Ultimately, there are many factors that can alter a child’s development so it is important that we are able to identify them and work to increase or decrease (lack of food) their affect on a child’s development.

However, what I found most interesting about this reading is how the prevailing thoughts of child development largely dictated how societies and social groups acted at the time. There were many human rights violations that were brought about by the lack of understanding of human development leading to racism, genocides and wars. By identifying the genetic, social and environmental factors on our development we are able to understand and teach people to be more accepting, compassionate and loving. Essentially, it is by showing the similarities between all races that we were able to make progress with slavery and racism. These steps could not have been made without having a deeper understanding of the effect of our genetics and our environment on development.

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