Jean Piaget


What is intelligence?

"Intelligence is an adaptation…To say that intelligence is a particular instance of biological adaptation is thus to suppose that it is essentially an organization and that its function is to structure the universe just as the organism structures its immediate environment"  - Piaget

"Intelligence is assimilation to the extent that it incorporates all the given data of experience within its framework…There can be no doubt either, that mental life is also accommodation to the environment. Assimilation can never be pure because by incorporating new elements into its earlier schemata the intelligence constantly modifies the latter in order to adjust them to new elements"-Piaget (Plucker, 2007)

Piaget believed that intelligence is a form of adaptation, where knowledge is constructed by each individual thought the use of assimilation and accommodation. He theorized that as children interact with their environments, both physical and social, they organize information  according to groups of interrelated ideas called "schemes". When children come into contact with something new, they must either assimilate it into an existing scheme or create a new scheme (Wadsworth, 1996).

4 Forces that Shape Human Development

Piaget uses four forces to describe that help shape the child's development.   The table below describes what each force is as well as its educational application.  Piaget has left a significant impact on school curricula, instructional procedures, and measurement practices. Piaget's theory, along with Bruner's, lead to an approach to teaching and learning that gives the child a central, active role in the construction of knowledge called constructivism.  Constructivists encourage students to be critical thinkers and independent learners, while the teacher acts as a mentor to guide the child.

Force Description Educational Application
Equilibration This is a tendency to maintain a balance between assimilation and accommodation Children need to be provided with an optimal level of difficulty- not so difficult that they are too challenging, and not too easy that they required no accommodation. This is similar to Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development.
Maturation Although genetic forces don’t determine behavior, they are related to its unfolding Teachers need to be aware of how children think, learn, and level of maturation and understanding to optimize their educational experiences.
Active experience Having interaction with real objects and events allows children to discover things and invent their own mental representations of their world. This supports a constructivist curriculum, where the learner is actively involved in the process of discovering and learning.
Social interaction Interaction with people leads to the elaboration of ideas about things, people, and the self. Schools need to provide opportunities for the learner-learner and teacher-learner interaction in the classroom and non-academic areas such as the playground and library.

Piaget put a huge emphasis on the role to social interaction when describing the four forces that shape human behavior. Through social interaction, children and students become aware of the feelings and thoughts of others, as well as develop moral rules and practice their own logical thought processes. To be consistent with his forces  teachers should include opportunities for teacher-learner and learner-learner interactions in the classroom.