The theory of intellectual development of the Swiss biologist and philosopher Jean Piaget covers the period from infancy to adulthood. Piaget focused on developing the child’s thinking and, above all, the development of logical thinking. He believed that the thinking of an adult differs from the thinking of a child in the first place by greater logic (Rathus, 2022). At different times, Jean Piaget named various stages of intellectual development, but the most common were (Rathus, 2022):
- the sensorimotor stage
- the preoperational stage
- the stage of concrete operations
- the stage of formal operations
Lesson plans based on Piaget’s work should not summarize the material being taught. They include activities for the children, experiments for them to observe, and questions to answer. The role of learners becomes active and self-directed, much more like a model of learning by discovery than direct learning. Cognitive growth can be especially rapid in learning when children learn inconsistencies and errors in their thinking.
When designing mathematics programs, one should consider the fact that at a non-operational level, children can consider only one property at a time. The math curriculum should be structured so that children can find solutions on their own. That is, when they make mistakes, find and correct them. Thus, Mrs. Martino must let her student Brianna, who has trouble understanding the relationship between addition and subtraction, make mistakes so that she can find the solution herself.
The development of action schemes, or cognitive development, occurs as the child’s experience in practical action with objects grows and becomes more complex. It is accomplished by internalizing objective actions and their gradual transformation into mental operations (Rathus, 2022). Therefore, workbooks that gradually increase the complexity of tasks are fully consistent with Piaget’s theory. The exploration of the world must include experiments carried out by children. Building things, using them, testing them, making them work, playing with them, and trying to answer questions about how and why they work are the essence of Piaget’s approach to development.
Rathus, S. A. (2022). Childhood & adolescence: Voyages in development. Cengage.