Locke’s Theory and Jean Piaget’s Stages of Development

John Locke

John Locke was among the most famous philosophers and theorists of the 17th century. He is often regarded as the founder of a school of thought known as Empiricism. Locke was also influential in the areas of religion, theology, and educational. Of all his credentials John Locke is most famous for his theory of learning know as Tabula Rasa. Tabula Rasa is Latin for “scraped tablet” or “clean slate.” in epistemology (the theory of knowledge) argued for the mind’s initial resemblance to a sheet of white paper, void of all characters.Locke did not believe, however, that the mind is literally blank or empty prior to experience, he did believed we are born with a blank slate and possess all the materials of reason and knowledge that we gain from experience as we live learn and grow. Locke’s theory is unique almost no other empiricist has taken such an extreme position. In fact philosophers before him believed in powers of intuition or that the human mind is infested with innate conceptions.

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was a Swiss biologist and psychologist who came up with the 4 stages of cognitive development. Piaget observed his children and their process of making sense of the world around them. In doing this he developed a four-stage model of how the mind processes new information encountered. His theory believes that children progress through 4 stages and all go through these stages in the same order. These four stages include sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete, and formal.

The first stage is the Sensorimotor stage (Birth-2 years old). During this stage the infant builds an understanding of themselves and how things work. An infant in this stage is able to differentiate between itself and other objects. Learning takes place in two ways via assimilation which is the organization of information and absorbing it into existing schema and accommodation when an object cannot be assimilated and the schemata have to be modified to include the object. During the preoperational stage (2-7 years old). Objects are classified in simple ways. The child is not yet able to conceptualize abstractly and needs concrete physical situations to understand and make sense of the word.  The next stage is Concrete operations (7-11 years old). At this stage the more physical experience accumulates, accomodation is increased.  A child in this stage begins to think abstractly and conceptualize, creating logical structures that explain his or her physical experiences. Finally Formal Operations (ages 11 into adulthood). In this stage cognition reaches its final form. By this stage, the person no longer requires concrete objects to make rational judgements.  The child is capable of hypothetical and deductive reasoning. During this stage the ability for abstract thinking is very similar to an adult.

My philosophy of Learning

My philosophy of learning is an integration of Locke’s theory of Tabula Rosa and Jean Piaget’s stages of development. John Locke’s theory of children being blank slates when they are born really resonates with my theory of how a child is able to learn from birth to youth. I believe each and every child has the potential to bring something unique and special to the world. Their blanks slates are able to be influenced and molded into great minds. My learning philosophy is also is inspired by a song “The Greatest Love of All” by the late Whitney Houston. Her lyrics:

“I believe the children are our future.I believe the children are our are future

Teach them well and let them lead the way Show them all the beauty they possess inside.

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”

As children learn more about their world and add to their existing schemas they are able to develop their own ideas of the world and how it works. It is the job of the adults in their life to cultivate their learning by assisting them as they develop these ideas. Learning is done when adults entertain questions no matter how futile, repetitious or annoying they may be. When this happens their blank slates begin to fill with more knowledge. I compare this with Jean piaget’s term schemas. As they grow they are able to assimilate more ideas and add them to their Tabula Rosa. I imagine as they do this things are being “erased” or “crossed out” of their blank slates. Ands new things are added as they make sense of the world around them. In conclusion John Locke, Jean Piaget’s and Whitney Houston have shaped my thoughts feelings and ideas about learning and my overall Learning Philosophy.

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