Support for Piaget's Theory:
The Theory's Impact on Education
Piaget's focus on qualitative development had an important impact on education. While Piaget did not specifically apply his theory in this way, many educational programs are now built upon the belief that children should be taught at the level for which they are developmentally prepared.
Criticisms of Piaget:
Problems With Research Methods
Much of the criticism of Piaget's work is in regards to his research methods. A major source of inspiration for the theory was Piaget's observations of his own three children. In addition to this, the other children in Piaget's small research sample were all from well-educated professionals of high socioeconomic status. Because of this unrepresentative sample, it is difficult to generalize his findings to a larger population.
Research has disputed Piaget's argument that all children will automatically move to the next stage of development as they mature. Some data suggests that environmental factors may play a role in the development of formal operations.
Most researchers agree that children possess many of the abilities at an earlier age than Piaget suspected. Recent theory of mind research has found that 4- and 5-year-old children have a rather sophisticated understanding of their own mental processes as well as those of other people. For example, children of this age have some ability to take the perspective of another person, meaning they are far less egocentric than Piaget believed.
Santrock, John W. (2008). A topical approach to life-span development (4 ed.). New York City: McGraw-Hill.
Piaget, J. (1977). Gruber, H.E.; Voneche, J.J. eds. The essential Piaget. New York: Basic Books.
Piaget, J. (1983). Piaget's theory. In P. Mussen (ed). Handbook of Child Psychology. 4th edition. Vol. 1. New York: Wiley.