In addition to developing the four stages of cognitive development, through his observations of his own three children, Piaget developed several concepts as a part of his cognitive learning theory.
One of these concepts is that of “schema.” According to the International Centre for Educators’ Learning Styles (2014), “A schema can be thought of as a unit of knowledge, relating to one aspect of the world including objects, actions, and abstract (theoretical) concepts.” Essentially, a schema consists of an individual’s interpretations of the world based on knowledge and experiences. Piaget believed that as children gained new knowledge, new schemas were created and/or existing schemas were modified.
The Four Processes
Related to the concept of schema is that of the four processes. These processes include: assimilation, accommodation, disequilibrium, and equilibration. The International Centre for Educators’ Learning Styles (2014) provides some clear definitions for each of these processes:
Assimilation: the process of taking in new information and fitting it into a preconceived notion about the world
Accommodation: the process of adjusting to new experiences or objects by revising the old plan to fit new information
Disequilibrium: a state of confusion, dissonance, or discomfort when new information does not integrate with existing structures. This confusion motivates us to achieve the new challenge and restore balance between assimilation and accommodation, which when achieved, is equilibration.
Equilibration: the balance between the processes of assimilation and accommodation. It is the force that drives the learning process to restore balance by mastering the challenge (information) presented.
Example of assimilation. A child sees a man with a long white beard and says, “Santa Santa!”
Example of accommodation. The child’s father explains that not all men with white beards are Santa Clause; Santa Clause has a special outfit that he wears, too.
International Centre for Educators’ Learning Styles. (2014). Piaget’s stages of cognitive development. Retrieved from http://www.icels-educators-for-learning.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46&Itemid=61
This week in class, we were asked to come up with a mnemonic device and share it with the class. I seriously wracked my brain trying to think of something—it was pretty difficult. I have often used mnemonic devices when studying, but I feel like the things that I make up usually don’t make sense to other people (but they certainly help me!).
Here’s a mnemonic device I created to help students when they are preparing to do homework. I thought that this could be used when teaching upper elementary students study stills.
Distractions: Eliminate distractions that may make it difficult to work.
Organize: Organize to make sure you have all materials needed.
Niche: Find a comfortable space where you can focus.
Expectations: Make sure you understand your teacher’s expectations before you start.
While I don’t know if it necessarily related directly to inquiry, it is certainly necessary when doing research and work.
Jean Piaget, one of the foremost educational theorists, was a Swiss epistemologist who lived in the early part of the 20th century. Piaget’s background was in science, and he earned a doctorate in biology. While standardizing intelligence tests for Alfred Binet, Piaget developed an interest in how children learn, particularly in how children create knowledge and how thought processes change as children age. As a result, Piaget developed a theory of cognitive development that has been used extensively in educational theory and practice (Mooney, 2000, pp. 59-61).
Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
According to Piaget, people go through four consecutive stages of cognitive development (see table below). While Piaget believed that children develop at different rates, there are certain ages that are associated with each stage.
To learn more about these stages, check out this YouTube video by Texas A&M University’s Dr. Waller.
Piaget on Teaching and Learning
Piaget believed that children construct their own knowledge; this knowledge construction, he believed, is best done when children interact with their environments (as opposed to simply hearing about it) (Mooney, 2000, pp. 61-62). He also believed that curiosity was a key motivator for learning, and that, as much as possible, teachers should provide their students with real-world problems and experiences (p. 62, pp. 75-76). Lastly, Piaget believed that children should be provided large periods of free time to play and explore, and he encouraged open-ended questioning and activities (pp. 74-77).
Citation: Mooney, C. G. (2000). Theories of early childhood: An introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget, and Vygotsky. St. Paul, MN: RedLeaf Press.
You forget you're in public.
You cuss because the characters are pissing you off.
You cry because the book just broke you.
You make strange noises--causing those around you to question your sanity.
You laugh because of how cute (or funny) the book is getting.
You blush like a fiend when reading something you know others might not find appropriate for a public space--you're such a daredevil.
You look over your book to sneak a peek at what others are reading.
You feel amazing because you're reading while everyone else is probably bored.
You roll your eyes at the person beside you because s/he is so loud. (S/he is probably on the phone.)
You look up at the people around you when you reach a good part because you know they're not experiencing what you are.
You smile like a maniac when the main characters FINALLY get together.
A random person may ask you if you're okay once they notice how strange you're acting.
You curse the author's name aloud. Loudly.
You say, "Stupid (insert character name), why would you do that?!"
You close the book for a moment, breathe in heavily, and refuse to read the book for the next five minutes. All because you're pissed off with the story.
Have any more? Feel free to add!
How can you engage others to be advocates of the school library?
This question was posed to us as a part of our discussion for my course entitled “Information Technologies in Educational Organizations.” Of the readings we were given on the topic of advocacy, I found one particularly helpful in answering this question, the ALA’s School Library Program Health and Wellness Toolkit. Essentially, it states that in order to gain support for the library, we must consider what is important to those who could advocate for the library and try to address the needs of these individuals and groups through library programing. In the article, the ALA gives readers specific steps to follow in order to advocate effectively:
Step One: Know Your Stakeholders [Know who the stakeholders are and their “agendas.”]
Step Two: Alignment [Think of how the stakeholders’ agendas align with library activities and goals.]
Step Three: Program Promotion [Have the programs you implement be designed based on the alignment between stakeholder needs and library mission.]
Step Four: Evaluation and Evidence [Evaluate how the programs you implemented impacted the areas important to stakeholders.]
Step Five: Share Findings [Make the presentations of findings evident to stakeholders.]
While I found these tips to be extremely helpful, I also believe that there is something that librarians must have that cannot be taught: passion. When I think of advocacy, for me, it is this word—passion—that comes to mind. Although librarians can follow the steps outlined by the ALA, if they do not have passion for their programs and what they are doing in the library, it will be more difficult to win outside advocates for the library.
Earlier this fall, I visited the Cazenovia Public Library (CPL), and was extremely impressed with the programs that they have available to help the community. CPL has a great deal of support from the community for these programs, with many giving both financially and with their time in order to support these programs, and this library clearly has become a vital component in the community. I believe a major reason that the library has garnered such support is a direct result of the passion of director Betsy Kennedy as her passion to help others is apparent and contagious. Although CPL is a public library, I believe that, in this way, it can be a model for school libraries, as well.