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Cognitive Development: Two Competing Schools of Thought - Essay Example

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This essay will address the field of cognitive development theory. It will discuss the major schools of thought, identify the major variables of each school of thought, and discuss how these theories of cognitive development are significant for guiding instructional teaching methods and curriculum choices. …
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Cognitive Development: Two Competing Schools of Thought
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Download file to see previous pages As the essay declares cognitive skills are considered to be affected by both hereditary and environmental variables. Cognitive development theory is concerned with, as stated by Piaget, “how we come to know”. How human beings are distinguishable from animals is rooted in out ability to reason symbolically and abstractly. Cognitive development theory is concerned with how we develop these reasoning skills.
According to the report findings cognitive development theory is deeply indebted to the work of Jean Piaget, a biologist and philosopher. His theories focus on the biological features and stimuli of cognitive development. He remains an influential figure for the “cognitive constructionists” branch of cognitive development theory. Piaget argued that cognitive development was a result of the ways in which human organisms adapted to external variables. He divided these adaptations into two categories, assimilation and accommodation, and hypothesized that these two processes were the means by which humans developed intellectually throughout their lifetimes. Huitt and Hummel have paraphrased Piaget’s work by stating that “Assimilation is the process of using or transforming the environment so that it can be placed in preexisting cognitive structures. Accommodation is the process of changing cognitive structures in order to accept something from the environment”. Another school of thought is often traced to the work of Lev Vygotsky. He is deemed to be the major proponent of the “social constructionists” branch of cognitive development theory. ...
Huitt and Hummel have paraphrased Piaget's work by stating that "Assimilation is the process of using or transforming the environment so that it can be placed in preexisting cognitive structures. Accommodation is the process of changing cognitive structures in order to accept something from the environment" (2003: np). An infant assimilates, for example, by learning how to use a different milk bottle or to run in larger shoes. The same infant accommodates by substituting a pacifier for a milk bottle or opting for socks when the larger shoes don't allow him to satisfy his objective.
Another school of thought is often traced to the work of Lev Vygotsky. He is deemed to be the major proponent of the "social constructionists" branch of cognitive development theory. Whereas Piaget was concerned with the ways in which the human organism assimilated and accommodated, Vygotsky placed more emphasis on the social interaction aspects than inherent biological predispositions and reactions. There is an important link with Piaget, and that link is that there are adaptive processes at work in cognitive development. It is the nature of these adaptive processes, however, where the theorists disagree. Many cognitive constructionists would see adaptation as proceeding alongside our biological development. Cognitive development, in short, is to a large extant the product of whom we are at a particular biological stage in our lifespan. Most social constructionists, on the other hand, find this parallel reference to biological development too broad and exclusive. They would argue that other situational variables also affect cognitive development. Some of the situational variables ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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