Sociological Philosophies Piagets Social Theory Education Essay

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First of all, it is very important to understand that Piaget centered the problem of knowledge development in his work especially after 1940. Basically, Piaget investigated the growth and development of knowledge in children. This knowledge was collected through interviews. Children were investigated and dialogued individually about range of problems. Rational and logical approach was taken into consideration to evaluate all the problems and development of learning.

While talking about the development of children and learning process, Piaget always talked about the social factors influencing particular growth process. In addition he further talked about the cognitive, moral and social development in children.

As far as cognitive and socio moral development is concerned, Piaget relates three parallels. First, Piaget explained that as the object world is constructed by child, same case occurs with psychological development. So, psychological knowledge can be constructed by child as well.

According to Piaget, second parallel involves the fact that affect is an in- dissociable element while talking about intellectual growth and development process. So, socio affective ties motivate moral and social development.

Third, self regulation process is also described for moral and social development as for Intellectual and cognitive process.

In the view of Jean Piaget, child's intellectual development and adaption are always dependent on environment. This occurs in the same way as physical development does happen. While talking about development, Piaget also mentions and focuses the significance of peer relations same as Tudge and Rogoff mentioned in 'Interaction in human development' (1989). However, according to Piaget's view, peer relations do matter a lot as far as child's construction and development process are related. Intellectual competence and the building of moral values always depend on surroundings and peers with which child uses to interact. However, some researchers and analysts are in the view that intelligence and morality are always dependent on peers. In fact, peers play a major role in value building and development but they are not the ultimate influence on children. Anyways adult child relations or relations with peers always influence the overall development process.

So, Piaget's development process expressed a gradual movement in children from anomy to heteronomy which further leads to autonomy. This description can further be described as a process when child passes through development process from non regulation by self and others to a process when child starts getting directives by others. Finally, a child reaches to a stage of autonomy meaning self regulation process. Moreover, Piaget also mentions two types of moral development in children based on their relations with adults. The positive regulations lead in the promotion of development optimistically. On the other hand, negative directions or coercion retard the overall development in short and long run as well. So, we can see that morality is not dependent on personal or individual convictions rather it always depends on environment and people with which a child interacts.

Here, it is also important to mention that although child development is based on people living around but it is also a fact that believes also play a major role in this regard. This is also known as autonomous morality. This morality reflects the process of self regulation in children. Self constructed moral values give rise to beliefs. Moreover on practical level, we can see beliefs really play a great role as far as development process is related. Children will never like to follow readymade rules given or prescribed by their adults until or unless they develop personal convictions in this regard.

So, when we talk about education instruction, cultural diversity, language and learning, we can see that adult child relationships do matter a lot. These relations might be power based where adults always use to direct little kids or the relations might be friendly promoting positive development in children. Anyways it is a fact that relationships influence the overall developmental pattern. In the first type where adults use constraints or coercion, children are given readymade instructions or rules for behavior. So, child is also required to give maximum possible respect to his adults and adults exercise power and authority to instruct little individuals. We can simply say that adult controls the overall behavior of the child. A downside to this approve involves the fact that child is helpless. The reason for particular behaviors is irrational and totally outside his/ her jurisprudence. Moreover, his values and personal interests are also based upon adult intentions. In a technical term, Piaget calls this relation 'heteronomous,' where a child's always follows the rules prescribed by adults rather than by self. However, heteronomous approach may range from punitive or hostile behaviors to sugar coated actions. Furthermore, according to this view point when children are governed by others, they always practice the ideas, values and beliefs of others. This further leads into mindless attitude at both intellectual and moral level. Such individuals may easily led by any other authority.

In heteronomous approach, as already mentioned that children are dependent in their behaviors and attitudes, so personal feelings are badly tarnished and eventually a child might be rebel in long run. Piaget also mentions that a child who passes his life dominated by other always lacking behind self determination. Such a child is also incapable making autonomous decisions. Piaget also warned that coercion is not a good approach at all. It just socializes the surface behavior of a child. In actual this approach gives rise to a tendency where children always prefer to rely on rules prescribed by others.

On the other hand Piaget differentiates another approach with heteronomous phenomena. This new approach also depicts a relationship between child and adults. However, in this approach cooperation and mutual respect are always taken deeply into consideration. This process creates a positive approach towards cultural diversity, education and learning process. In this process adults use to give responsibilities and possibilities to a child. The child is asked to regulate his behavior voluntarily. This approach is known as 'cooperative' move towards future development. Furthermore, in this process adults open the ways for a child to develop logical thinking, rational approach, creativity and independence. The child develops convictions and moral values by his own which further lead into the interests of all parties.

'Cooperative' further means to attain a goal keeping in view the perspective and feelings of others. It is just like coordinating different feelings to achieve a single goal. For example, in educational development and learning instructions a cooperative teacher may consider the view point of a child and further gives confidence to the child to think about the views of others.

The reason for cooperation starts in feelings of joint understanding, mutual affection and trust building process which further give rise to consciousness and sympathy to others as well as the child.

Furthermore, it is a fact that cooperation is a social interaction among various individuals that might be adults or children. While going through cooperation process, both of them interact and respect each other and finally treat equally. It is an obvious fact that adults and children are not equal as such. However, if adults respect children as a human and respect his will as well then one can surely speak about a specific type of psychological equality in relations. This psychological motivation based on respect always offer a sense of freedom in which child can better develop. Anyways, Piaget also never advocates full liberty because without constraints development process might be inconsistent.

Piaget's Sociological Philosophy and Education Instruction:

Jean Piaget is a great social scientist who did extensive work regarding child development. He discovered, explored and unveiled some hidden truths of the rich world of children. While talking about development and education instructions, he prepared an approach of critical method evaluating child thinking. This critical method is also known as clinical method of inquiring young children.

While exploring education instructions, Piaget depicts a methodological approach involving flexibility. This approach is characterized by in-depth interviewing process and the systematic investigation for mathematical understanding which further put forward the concept of logical and rational behavior in children. Simply we can summarize the concept of Piaget methodology as an effort to associate three different ideas.

The pragmatic method of experimental sciences

The hypothetical method of logic and mathematics

The critical historic method of social sciences

The above mentioned concepts are very important when we talk about the educational development and the learning process of a child. These concepts will surely assist a teacher while building educational practices. Wider education related issues can also be coped in a better way with the awareness of these mentioned principles. Positive and encouraged advancements can be enhanced keeping in mind the following educational principles.

Above all, Jean Piaget attached great significance to education as he declared that education is the only thing that can save our society from collapse whether gradual or violent. According to him, a teacher should always remember that great ideas always inculcate strength in minds. These ideas have their own power. So, adults and teachers should be careful while pondering new ideas in little children. Education is a process that rebuilds and reconstructs individuals and nations. So, education is a process that transforms a nation.

Cultural Diversity:

The Swiss psychologist, Piaget did an extensive deal of work regarding cognitive development and its relation to socialization. In 1920s, Piaget carried out interviewing process to question and investigate children. He observed that children understanding and reasoning differ from one to another depending on their ages. He further proposed that all the children improved through a chain of cognitive development same as they pass through physical growth and development. In addition, Piaget mentioned that cognitive development in children vary from one child to another but eventually all the children pass through cognitive process in same order.

As far as the process of cultural diversity is related, Piaget clearly mentioned several processes that play a great role in cognitive development and cultural diversity of a child. These processes include adaptation at first and equilibrium as second.

Adaptation deals with the process when a child starts knowing the art of meeting demands according to specific situations. Adaptation further leads into two more sub divisions including,



The process of assimilation deals with previous maintained concepts. For example a little child always refers a whale as 'fish'. But in later stages of development, he can accommodate with new concepts and he can better alter previous maintained notions and ideas. He further discovers that some marine creatures living in seas and oceans might be some other creature other than fish. For example a whale that is a mammal. This is known as accommodation. So, this further helps us to understand the concept of cultural diversity in relation to children.

Equilibrium also plays great role in socialization process or the connection of child with his environment. It is basically a balance between outer world and the self. Child adaption to situational demands also comes into the category of social balance. This equilibrium or balance moves an individual along the path of development which further leads into effective adaptation

Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development



Characteristics of Stage



The child learns by doing: looking, touching, sucking. The child also has a primitive understanding of cause-and-effect relationships. Object permanence appears around 9 months.



The child uses language and symbols, including letters and numbers. Egocentrism is also evident. Conservation marks the end of the preoperational stage and the beginning of concrete operations.

Concrete Operations


The child demonstrates conservation, reversibility, serial ordering, and a mature understanding of cause-and-effect relationships. Thinking at this stage is still concrete.

Formal Operations


The individual demonstrates abstract thinking, including logic, deductive reasoning, comparison, and classification.


Strength and Weaknesses of the Model:

Although Piaget offered a great framework as far as child education is related but still there are certain weaknesses in his model. First of all, the accuracy of model is undermined. With the help of interview we can guess certain behaviors but we cannot fix the accuracy level. The guess might be inaccurate. Furthermore, scientists also believe that learning facilities in different children operate at different levels unlike Piaget's formula that these were entangled.

However, the systematic stages of the model offer an overall good impact. Although it is not essential that the learning process would occur in the same manner and aptitude, still the model is good enough.

Dewey Social Theory:

Dewey was a great thinker as far as social phenomena are related. His valuable contributions to society and culture are really appreciated including his educational reforms and innovative ideas. The ideas related to child education that Dewey presented are based on the notions put forward by Froebel, Pestalozzi and Rousseau. According to Dewey, children are the weakest, defenseless and the most among all dependents within a society. So, they are totally dependent upon their elders. They are not only helped out but also hurt and hindered by their elders because of the fact that elders have direct control over this most dependent section of the society.

It is a fact that small children's development always depend on society whether physical, moral, cultural or educational developments are related. However, many parents as well as guardians, sometimes, totally ignore the rights of their children. Anyways, most of the adults are absolutely unaware about the cause of their miseries and misfortunes. Sometimes adults even do not know the exact causes behind. They even cannot understand that they are creating odd circumstances and obstacles in the development process of their kids. So, elders must understand the fact that small children are helpless and they cannot devise their complaints and grievances in a collective manner. They even cannot conduct and organize efforts and struggles for improvement in education and condition of life. So, children always need elders that can better assist them.

As far as educational problems related to children are concerned, it is important to understand that the circumstances do matter a lot. The changes in the standard of living and social life greatly affect the overall developmental pattern of a child. For example a child living in slum areas, crowded and dark areas will definitely have changing demands than those living with luxurious lives. Since the ending of World War II, this fact was testified among those families that had migrated from Puerto to Manhattan.

While educating a child, problems of readjustment might occur because of the change in social status. One child may differ from other in respect of his/ her standards. Some may belong to upper classes while others may be from lower socio economic status. So, these characteristics greatly determine the educational processes and systems. Each and every child has varying demands, competence level and intelligence. So, educational systems do matter a lot under which children are trained and tutored.

Since French Revolution, several demands had evoked for the reconstruction processes of educational system. Child play moves and kindergartens are the examples in this regard. These strategies were incorporated in educational systems going on at the level of public schools. Several educational innovations were also developed at that stage.

In late eighties and early ninetieth centuries, educational reformers concentrated more on two basic problems related to child development. One issue concerned with a claim that childhood is a stage that requires independence for growth. Elders should offer favorable conditions to mold the personality of children in a better way. They should not interfere in normal matters. Children should offer independence by their elders so that they may arise and build positively. They should offer chances to formulate their own decisions. For example, play schools are developed to offer more independence. These schools are not only formed to meet already existing demands but these are developed to offer new opportunities and chances that will further lead in development process of young children. So, play schools can be simply called as a centre of transformation and consumption.

We can see that Dewey's instructions and theories depict the child as an independent authority with his/ her own claims and rights. A child may claim new trends that may better coincide with the changing demands of the modern current day world.

According to him, the educational instructions had to be carefully and systematically overhauled because of the ongoing changes in cultures and civilizations. For example, we can see in colonial period children were used to be more engaged in household daily activities. They thought to be more disciplined, independent and directed. They had good leadership traits as well. On the other hand with the change in civilization and time along with industrialization and urbanization, family structure got weakened day by day. The influence of religion had also changed to a great extent.

Dewey further wrote the child's behavior in earlier times as,

"While the child of bygone days was getting an intellectual discipline whose significance he appreciated in the school, in his home life he was securing acquaintance in a direct fashion with the chief lines of social and industrial activity. Life was in the main rural. The child came into contact with the scenes of nature, and was familiarized with the care of domestic animals, the cultivation of the soil, and the raising of crops. The factory system being undeveloped, the house was the center of industry. Spinning, weaving, the making of clothes, etc., were all carried on there."

Dewey further mentioned that the small child had to take part in all above mentioned activities. He also used to participate in usual occupations of the house. Anyways, today cultural diversity, division of labor, organization of factories and machinery had totally changed the lifestyle of small children and also affected their developmental patterns. Cities are overcrowded nowadays and people have started the trend of servants at their homes. This trend has some negative effects on the overall development of a child. Nowadays, a child does not actively participate in daily activities. At the same time he also faces extreme pressures from environment. He simply loses motor practices and practical approach towards life which is extremely important in the creation of balance between physical and intellectual growth and development. Nowadays children are getting new information at speedy rate but they have lost the power using this information. In schools need for formal education has decreased that enhanced the intellectual level of children initially. Nowadays, schools try to offer an environment along with various methods that can fulfill the process of socialization and development. In older times, child usually learnt all that in his home surroundings. The mode of education was also quite different at that time. The schools were most often controlled by clergy who provided limited and restricted environment for development. A similar scheme of curriculum had imposed on children whether the child would be obedient or passive.

Dewey further pointed out the existing organization of schools. Nowadays, a great variety of institutions have sprung up that offer specialized education to children. Teaching training schools have also been formulated to offer better services to all kind of children.

Dewey's Education Pattern:

Dewey further put forward the education pattern based on several principles where teachers and children cooperate to get maximum benefits. First of all, schools would be accessible to all. Children from kindergarten to college would freely avail that facility. Secondly, children would carry on unique techniques and educational processes. By developing a cooperative environment with teachers, these processes would guide and aid the children. Thirdly, small children are behaved and trained in a manner that they would learn care and share attributes with other fellows. This would further assist them in achieving well adjusted personality trait.

So, the new educational processes and school system offered by Dewey envisaged a unit where children can get modern education along with cultural diversity. Their learning and communication can also be enhanced because of continuous child- teacher interaction process and cooperation. Dewey further argued that sciences, art, nature studies and training process should be given priority over arithmetic, reading and writing especially at primary level. With the help of these subjects, we could enhance child's motor development and powers which will definitely lead in more constructive works. Dewey is in the view that activities do participate a lot and have first place when we talk about primary education. It is the most energetic side of child development and growth. On the other hand, technical education is just dictated to children. According to Dewey, vocational education has great significance in this regard. Use of activities and tools enhance external interests in children.

So, children should be given and offered such sort of education and chances in which they get opportunities to grow spontaneously and harmoniously. It is a fact that each stage of development in children has its own problems, needs, modes of reasoning and behavior patterns. So, special peculiarities are always required in teaching methodologies. Each grade should be child focused and centered. Always remember the fact that child also has his own rights. While planning activities and methods, their interests should be kept in mind as well. These peculiarities mobilize the efforts and motivate the child towards positive upbringing. Teacher should not be authoritative. The curriculum should not be dried. It should be flexible and diverse to offer better learning and listening skills. Traditional methods of fixed seats should be eliminated. Child should offer maximum opportunities so he may learn in a better way. Finally, we can say unobstructed surroundings are greatly required if you want your children move freely and independently towards learning process.

It is also important to understand that child can better learn through personal and direct experiences. In early stage of development these experiences come with clothing, food, games and occupations. Children should be given chance for their daily activities so that they may learn the best out of their own experiences. Remember, child always absorbs whatever the knowledge he gets and uses whenever he gets suitable opportunity. They learn the most when get interaction with their peers and siblings. This is the time when they learn various skills, habits and develop understanding towards environments. So, contribution in meaningful activities, learning through projects, encouraging issues and finding ways to solve them always facilitate the acquisition of knowledge. These activities further enhance the character trait in personality building like helpful attitudes, unselfishness, critical thinking and intelligence, individual and group initiatives towards problem solving etc. Basically, learning is the overall development of personality and habit formation. It is a process where individuals are dealt in a way that they could communicate and coordinate with the environment in the most effective manner to promote adjustment.

Dewey Ideas: A Quick Outlook

Dewey's principles and ideas related to child development were later codified by 'The Progressive Education Association.' these ideas are briefly described as under.

Conduct of children should be administered by themselves. They should not always been kept under critical and suppressing observation of their adults.

Activities should be planned keeping in mind the interests of the child. Interests enhance motivation level.

Teachers should inspire the knowledge, work and activities of a child.

For intelligent and effective development, studies related to science and arts are very essential for a child. These studies not only enhance his mental and intellectual levels but also perform great role in physical, emotional and social development.

Parents and teachers should also focus the physical development of a young child. This can be enhanced through outdoor activities.

Teachers and parents should cooperate to fulfill all essential needs of a child.

The idea of progression involves a scheme of schools that work as a laboratory. Such schools offer free environment for children where a child can does what he really wants to do.

Strength and Weaknesses of the Model:

Although the model presented by Dewey is great but there are several weaknesses. First of all, we cannot ensure that the child will surely develop the trait of right decision making. Second, liberty might lead him in wrong direction. So, complete overlook may inculcate negative attitudes in child's personality. Last but not the least; Dewey approach is not cost effective. It may require a great deal of money when we talk about planning activities and complete environment for a child. However, it is a fact that children will definitely enjoy practical approach towards learning and thinking process.

Lev Vygotsky and Social Cognition


Another model was put forward by Lev Vygotsky who is known due to his work in the subject of psychology. This model is known as 'social cognition learning Approach'. As the word 'cognition' means 'the act of knowing things', so the social cognition states the act of learning and knowing about things that relate to the society. In other words, we can say that 'social cognition' means 'the act of knowing about one's culture'.

In this model, Lev Vygotsky asserts that culture becomes the most important element in the psychological development of a human being and in shaping its behavior towards different aspects of life. Human beings do always have their own cultures and each human being is brought up in the context of a distinctive culture since one's childhood. So, the learning development of a child is to a large extent is affected by the culture in which his or her individual development is nourished. However, the family culture plays the most significant role in the development of the learning attitude of a child.


Contribution of culture in child's development: Culture contributes in the learning development of a child in two ways. First, the culture assists the child in identifying the contents of their thinking i.e. in identifying what to think. Secondly, the culture also helps the child by providing him or her means for the thinking. The followers of Lev Vygotsky called these processes the intellectual adaptation tools. In this way, the culture helps the child in assessing how to think. Thus, the social cognition approach helps the children both in identifying the basic elements of thinking and the ways of thinking.

Dialectical Process: Social cognition model calls the learning development of a child as a dialectical process. Thus, a child learns by experiences related to problem-solving which he or she shares with parents, teachers and also sometimes with a sibling. The initial responsibility of providing guidance to the child for problem-solving rests with the person who interacts with the child. However. This responsibility is shifted to the child gradually and slowly. This helps the child in developing an ability of efficient problem-solving and good decision-making.

Role of Language: One basic element of a culture is a 'language'. Social cognition approach puts a great emphasis on the language because it is language through which a bulk of knowledge about culture is transmitted to the child. With the progression of learning, the language of the child serves as a key tool of rational adaptation. Then, the children can also use the language to shape their behavior. The process of internalization is also happened through language by which a child can learn about the tools of learning and also about a large number of knowledge.

Interaction of child with surrounding culture: There is a difference between the things which a child can do independently and the things for which the child need help of others. This difference is known as the 'area of proximal maturity or development'. A child can never be viewed in isolation from his culture. This is due to the reason that the child learning process is very much affected by the culture around him. The process of learning problem solving is also carried out with the help of an individual. So, it is not possible to focus on the social learning development of a child in isolation from its environment and culture. The interaction of a child with the culture surrounding him and also with the parents and others contributes a lot in the intellectual adaptation of a child. The more effective the interaction, the more efficient the social of the child would be.


Lev Vygotsky's social cognition provided a model to improve the learning development in children about the culture. Children learn more if they interact with the thing about which they are getting knowledge. So, the curriculum of this model is designed as such to provide a facility to the learners to interact with the tasks of learning.

The help of an adult is also considered necessary in order to complete some of the tasks which the children cannot complete independently. This requires proper application of the scaffolding technique. This technique requires that the adult must evaluate the performance of the child and should adjust the level of assistance continually that he should provide to the child in completing the required task. Scaffolding is considered to be an effective teaching technique. Besides producing instantaneous results, scaffolding also assists the introduction and also nourishment of the skills that may be required by the child in future in order to make problem solving independent of any outside assistance.

Another feature of this Lev Vygotsky model is the assessment of the learning development in the child. The area of proximal maturity and development must be taken into account before making any assessment about children. The thing which the children can perform and complete independently is known as the actual development level of that particular child. On the other hand, the thing which they can do with the help of another is called the potential development level of the child. The methods of assessment should focus both on the actual development level as well as the level of potential development level. There is no clear cut relationship between the actual and potential development level of a child. Two children might acquire the same level of actual performance but with the help of an adult one may perform better than the other, i.e. his potential performance is better than that of the other. On the other hand, it s also possible that the potential performance of two children is same i.e. both can perform the same tasks to the same level with the help of an adult but the level of actual performance of the two might be different. However, it all depends on the development of the children, their interaction with the environment and the intellectual adaptation level of the two. Again, this all depends on the cultural environment of the children. And that is why; it is called that a child should never be viewed in isolation from its environment.

Strength and Weaknesses of the Model:

In this model the direction of adults inculcate positive behavior in a child. So, there are more chances of positive decision making process development in the child. Moreover, it is a realist approach where child directly interacts with his environment. So, more chances to learn in a practical manner.

However, in this model child is not fully independent. He always depends on his elders. Moreover, this model might be not appealing for all children because of the fact that their behaviors differ from one to another. So, these are the weaknesses of the model.

Jean Piaget, John Dewey & Lev Vygotsky: Comparisons and Contrasts

Both of the two above mentioned social scientists were greatly interested in learning child development. Although both of them were constructive in approach and vision but still there are several comparisons and contrasts. Both of them consider that cognition relates to mental development and there are certain things within environment that are beyond the approach and understanding of a child. Anyways there are several key ideas that differ in both approaches. As Piaget believes that development process leads learning. On the other hand, Vygotsky mentions that the learning process precedes expansion and growth.

For Jean Piaget, a child always passes through specific stages of development and progress through consecutive and universal phases. He believes no matter how intelligent and brilliant a child is, he will not skip any of these stages of development. He also mentions that children learn with acting upon their environment and the environment or surroundings have nothing special to do in the process of learning. For Piaget, child is the only person who discovers the surroundings. A child learns through the process of idea formation and re-formation.

On the other hand, Vygotsky maintains that the development of understanding emphasizes the social contact. Learning is, basically, a process in which we learn to socialize with our environment and the actions of others. For Vygotsky, child learns through his culture and history.

On the other hand, John Dewey believes that schools should not focus on memorization process and repetition. He believes on the method of direct living in which children always use to indulge and engage in their real world surroundings. They always demonstrate knowledge through practical work and approach. Students are always provided opportunities to act and think in a better way.