The Child as Active Learner according to Piaget

Piaget’s concern was with how young children function in the world that surrounds them, and how this influences their mental development. The child is seen as continually interacting with the world around him / her, solving problems that presented by the environment. IT IS THROUGH TAKING ACTION TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS THAT LEARNING OCCURS.
Piaget suggested that thought is seen as deriving from action; action is internalized, or carried out mentally in the imagination, and in this way thinking develops. Piaget gives a much less important role to language in cognitive development than does Vygotsky. It is action rather than the development of the first language which is fundamental to cognitive development.
Piagetian psychology differentiates two ways in which development can take place as a result of activity: ASSIMILATION and ACCOMODATION. Assimilation happens when action takes place without any change to the child; accommodation involves the child adjusting to features of the environment in some way. Assimilation and accommodation are initially adaptive process of behavior, but they become processes of thinking. Accommodation is an important idea that has been taken into second language learning under the label ‘RESTRUCTURING’, used to refer to the re-organization of mental representations of a language (McLaughlin, 1992).
From Piagetian viewpoint, a child’s thinking develops as gradual growth of knowledge and intellectual skills towards a final stage of formal , logical thinking. However, gradual growth is punctuated with certain fundamental changes, which cause the child to pass through a series of stages. At each stage, the child is capable of some types of thinking but still incapable of others.
An important dimension of children’s lives that Piaget’s neglects is the social; it is the child on his or her own in the world that concerns him, rather than the child in communication with adults and other children.

(quoted from Cameron, Lynne. 2001. Teaching Languages to Young Learners. CUP. Pp.2-4).



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