Assimilation


Assimilation means gaining some knowledge and making it fit in with what you already know. This is a necessity in order to develop our cognitive structures. This is a process that everyone encounters even though they may not be aware of when it is happening. Our perceptions of things are enhanced when something of the outside world is assimilated or added into our internal world. Accommodation is the changing of one’s structure of thought. During this process, the gaining of new knowledge fails to co-exist with what we already know. Therefore, we must accommodate or adjust our previous way of thinking to maintain stability. These two processes interact to form a state of equilibrium. Equilibrium is something we all strive to obtain because it is here that we are most confident with our state of being. When people gain new information, they are at a state of instability. This is when the two processes are brought into effect. We use both of these techniques to maintain a state of equilibrium. With assimilation, equilibrium is established by returning to the original way of thinking with added knowledge. The only difference is that with accommodation the previous state of equilibrium is combined with an entirely new category. By ignoring the information, no knowledge is gained, yet equilibrium is still maintained. Assimilation and accommodation appear at certain stages of development. These two processes actually begin to occur within the first month of the child’s birth. This is during the first stage of the sensori-motor period. Assimilation is the most well known activity during this stage, but accommodation is also brought into play. These two processes begin during this first stage, but do not start to develop until later in the child’s life and in a later period in development. During preoperational stage of cognitive development, children begin to assimilate as a way of adaptive behavior. They are at the age now where they can begin to really take in new knowledge and new things. They are able to go back to their previous way of thinking, but with some new information. The formation of stable concepts and beginnings of mental reasoning are characteristics of this stage. The child begins to acquire new information and assimilates this information to reach a level of stability. Children’s thinking during this period is illogical and they lack the ability to make connections between categories. As this period shifts over to the next stage of concrete operations, the child begins making accommodations. This causes the child to make categorical links between their previous knowledge and their newly learned knowledge. The child also starts to think logically, but only to a certain degree. This also helps the child’s accommodation skills. Although one may dominate at any given time, they are inseparable and relate to each other. These processes work together to allow the child to adapt to his or her environment