Over time, there has been several different theories of development, to help us understand how children grow and change. These theories cover various aspects of development including cognitive, emotional and social development.
Theories of development provided a framework to help influence our approach to working with, and teaching children. One of the oldest schools of thought is the ‘Nature versus Nurture’ debate. Is our development as human beings, predisposed in our genetic makeup, or is it influenced by environment and life experiences?CognitivismJean Piaget was a swiss biologist and psychologist, who, as well as studying a sample of children, also studied his own children to develop his cognitive theories. It was Piagets belief that children learn not through dictation, but through real life experiences and the ability to discover things for themselves.
Piagets theory of cognitive development in children continues to influence the way teachers and all those who work with children. Piagets theory that development occurs at 4 stages enables teachers and teaching assistants to determine a child’s stage of intellectual development and encourage further progression. You could say that Piaget started the idea of the child centred approach.
Although his work has been the subject of considerable criticism, he is thought to be one of the most influential psychologists of the twentieth century.