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3.2. EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF PIAGET’S THEORY

1.Take a Constructivist Approach:

In a constructivist vein, Piaget emphasized that children learn best they are active and seek solutions for themselves. Piaget opposed teaching methods that treat children as passive receptacles. The educational implication of Piaget’s view is that in all subjects students learn best by making discoveries, reflecting on them, and discussing them, rather than blindly imitating the teacher or doing things by rote.

2.Facilitate Rather than Direct Learning:

Effective teachers design situations that allow students to learn by doing. These situations promote students’ thinking and discovery. Teachers listen, watch, and question students to help them gain better understanding. Ask relevant questions to stimulate their thinking and ask them to explain their answers.

3.Consider the Child’s Knowledge and level of Thinking:

Students do not come to class with empty heads. They have many ideas about the physical and natural world. They have concepts of space, time, quantity, and causality. These ideas differ from the ideas of adults. Teachers need to interpret what a student is saying and respond in a mode of discourse that is not too far from the student’s level.

4.Use Ongoing Assessment:

Individually constructed meanings cannot be measured by standardized tests. Math and language portfolios (which contain work in progress as well as finished products), individual conferences in which students discuss their thinking strategies, and written and verbal explanations by students of their reasoning can be used to evaluate progress.

5.Promote the Students Intellectual Health:

When Piaget came to lecture in the United States, he was asked, “What can I do to get my child to a higher cognitive stage sooner?” He was asked this question so often compared with other countries that he called it the American question. For Piaget, children’s learning should occur naturally. Children should not be pushed and pressured into achieving too much too early in their development, before they are maturationally ready. Some parents spend long hours every day holding up large flash cards with words on them to improve their baby’s vocabulary. In the Piagetian view, this is not the best way for infants to learn. It places too much emphasis on speeding up intellectual development, involves passive learning, and will not work.

6.Turn the Classroom into a setting of Exploration and Discovery:

What do actual classrooms look like when the teachers adopt Piaget’s views? Several first- and second-grade math classrooms provide some good examples. The teachers emphasize students’ own exploration and discovery. The classrooms are less structured than what we think of as a typical classroom. Workbooks and predetermined assignments are not used. Rather, the teachers observe the students’ interests and natural participation in activities to determine what the course of learning will be. For example, a math lesson might be constructed around counting the day’s lunch money or dividing supplies among students. Often games are prominently used in the classroom to stimulate mathematical thinking. For example, a version of dominoes teaches children about even-numbered combinations.Teachers encourage peer interaction during the lessons and games because students’ different viewpoints can contribute to advances in thinking.

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