Developed a theory about childhood development that still greatly influences behavioural psychologist and educators today.


-born in 1896-1980 in Neuchatel

-attended the University of Neuchatel

-received a PhD in Natural Science

-Moved to Paris, France to teach at an all boy school

-Here was what led him to his theory that young children’s cognitive processes are inherently different from those of adults.

-1921 returned to Switzerland and become the director of Rousseau Institute in Geneva

-1923 married Valentine Châtenay

-1929-1968 he was the director of the International Bureau of Education

-1979 awarded with Balzan Prize for Social and Political Science.

Theory of Cognitive Development:

  1. Sensori-Motor (birth – 2 years): Differentiates self from objects.  Recognizes self as agent of action and begins to act intentionally (ex. pulling a string – mobile moves).  Realizes that things exist even when no longer present.
  2. Pre-operational (2-7 years): learns to use language and to represent objects by images and words.  Thinking is still egocentric (ex. Hard from them to take view points of others)
  3. Concrete Operational (7-11 years): Can think logically about objects and events.  Achieves conservation of number (age 6) mass(age 7) weight(age 9)
  4. Formal Operational (11 years and up): Can think logically about abstract proposition and test hypotheses systematically.  Becomes concerned with the hypothetical, the future and ideological problems.

Importance: Educators are able to teach to the child at the appropriate level depending on their stage of development.  The result has been a greater understand and retention of the lesson taught.


-Russian psychologist > Lev Vygtsky stressed the importance of a child’s cultural background as an effect to the stages of development.

-challenged his theory that the hierarchy of learning development had to develop in succession.

Interesting Facts

-First interested in Biology and Natural Science

-Wrote his first article at the age of 10

-Published 60 books and several hundred articles (before the age of 21)

-In 1955 created the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva.

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