Jean Plaget


Jean Piaget: One of the Most Famous Theorists of Cognitive Development

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Jean Piaget: One of the Most Famous Theorists of Cognitive Development


You just had a baby and you think the things it does are so amazing, and your baby is the only one that can do that. Then you talk to other new parents, and their babies are doing almost the same things as yours; some a little more, some a little less. Now your baby is a teenager, and you are pulling your hair out because he/she is so different; he/she has so many mood swings in one minute, and is loving the next minute. You don’t know what to do, you think you are the only one with such a teenager. So you talk to your friends who are also mothers of teenage children. You find out they are having some of the same problems as you. Some of your friends are telling you that your child is just going through a stage. Most people believe the statement, “Your child is just going through a stage,” is just something people say when a parent is going through the terrible two’s or teenage years with their children. However this statement is very true when you think of stage as a developmental stage.

Most children grow up in development stages. These development stages range from early childhood to late adolescents. With variations of course, most children do fit at least somewhat in their development stage. For example, children ages 10 – 14 are considered the early adolescence stage. From working in a school system, I have noticed that most children do change from stage to stage. I have noticed that children’s personalities start changing around the 5th grade dramatically, and by the time they are in the 6th they are very different than what they were in the 4th grade. So what are these stages actually called? Well it is one term and that one term is Cognitive development. “Cognitive Development refers to the systematic changes that occur in children’s reasoning, concepts, memory and language” (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 5).

There had been several professional develop theories of how children develop in these stages. These theories are called theorists of cognitive development. One of the most famous theorists of cognitive development is Jean Piaget. In this paper, I am going to discuss Jean Piaget’s life in general, his theory, and finally how his theories are used in education today.


Jean Piaget was born in Switzerland on August 9, 1896. His parents were Author Piaget and Rebecca Jackson. His father was the professor of medieval literature at the University (Smith, 2002, p. 1). Like his father, his mother very intelligent and she was also energetic. However, Piaget found his mom to be a bit neurotic, “an impression that he said led to his interest in psychology, but away from pathology” (Boerre, 1999, p. 1).

Jean Piaget was always very smart. He even published his first paper at the age of 11 on his sighting of an albino sparrow. While in high school he also published may articles on his favorite subject, which was at the time mollusks. He even got a part time job with the director of Nuechâtel’s Museum of Natural History, Mr. Godel, and his work with mollusks and Mr. Godel was of particular interests to the Europeans who thought he was an adult (Boerre, 1999, p. 1).

He was not only psychoanalysis, but he was had a few other sciences under his belt. For instance, before he was ever known as a psychoanalysis, he was a well-known malacologist, but “his interest in science and the history of science soon overtook his interest in snails and clams” (Boerre, 1999, p. 3). In 1918, he obtained a Ph.D. in Natural Sciences at the University of Neuchâtel. (Smith, 2002. P. 1). It wasn’t until he spent a year at the University of Zurich in the psychology labs and at Bleuler’s famous psychiatric clinic that he became more interested in psychoanalysis, especially of children. It was during this time that he first heard of psychoanalysts such as Freud and Jung (Boeree, 1999, p. 1).

“In 1919, he taught psychology and philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris” (Boeree, 1999, p. 1) He