Mark Shaffer

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget grew up in a quiet region of French Switzerland. His father was a professor and his mother was a Calvinist. In 1918 Piaget earned a doctorate in zoology and started studying psychoanalysis. In 1920 he moved to Paris to study children\'s intelligence. He was fascinated with the way a child\'s mind works. He moved back to Switzerland to watch and observe children. Piaget did not think of children as being wrong, he thought of them as thinking in a different way. (
Piaget was a constructivist. He believed that knowledge was not preformed and it was always being constructed and developed with interaction with reality. ( He also found that a child\'s logic and ways of thinking are different from adults. His research centered around one question: how does knowledge grow? The way he answered it was, "…the growth of knowledge is a progressive construction of logically embedded structures superseding one another by a process of inclusion of lower less powerful logical means into higher and more powerful ones up to adulthood." ( He called this study of the development of knowledge genetic epistemology. He said that everyone, no-matter how young or old, has skills that help him or her gain knowledge. He called these skills schemas. (
Piaget had four basic stages in his developmental theory. First is the sensorimotor stage. This stage lasts from birth to about two years old. The infant uses his five senses and his motor ability to understand the world and to develop skills or schemas. Before the end of this stage the child is able to pretend and has mental representation of objects. (
Piaget\'s second stage was called the preoperational stage. This lasts from about two to seven years old. In this stage the child develops the use of symbols. For example when a child sees the word dog he or she knows what that word stands for. They also develop an understanding of the past and future. While in this stage, the child sees things from one point of view. They think that everything happens or is there because of them. They might say that the carpet is soft so when they fall they won\'t get hurt. (
In the third stage, called concrete operations stage, the child begins to be able to classify. They will be able to put things in order from biggest to smallest or by color. They also develop the idea of conservation. This means that the child will be able to tell that quantity is the same no matter what shape it takes. For example when there are four marbles lined up and four scattered in another area the child will be able to tell that there is the same amount in both areas. The concrete operations stage lasts from about seven to eleven years of age. (
Piaget\'s last stage is the called formal operations stage, and starts at about twelve years old. This stage involves using logical operations in an abstract way. This is also referred to as hypothetical thinking. This stage involves things like the formation of a hypothesis and the elimination of a hypothesis to solve problems or questions. (
In physical education it is important to know how your children think. A physical educator can not make their lesson too complicated for the child to understand. This is especially true at the elementary level. If the child does not understand what is being taught then the child will not put forth any effort and may be turned off of physical activity.
At the very beginning of a child\'s schooling he or she is still in the preoperational stage. Therefor it would not be a good idea to try to incorporate logic or the use of conservation into the lesson. A child at that age should be taught physical education in a way that will be easily understood. It should center on the use of symbols and basic physical skills such as running, jumping and throwing.