We are going to explain the contributions of Jean Piaget with his theory of the formation of intelligence to the pedagogy in this written article. And, we will see as he looked at the way in which the child will be developing their knowledge through the stages, and Piaget explains the degree of behavior and assimilation that the children will be obtained in their life.

We can also see how Piaget defines the intelligence of children through the subject and the object, we can see how the children acquire knowledge through their experiences when they have adapted to new situations. For Piaget to be able to answer the question about the origin of knowledge, he had to resort to what we call genetic epistemology.

This theory is going to try to explain how are his evolutionary path and construction, and cognitive development are always in constant change between the learning process and the importance of mistake, which is necessary to accept, discover, and become aware of him in a confrontation with reality.

Therefore, we will talk about two functions of intelligence from this perspective, involving adaptation and organization, and child cognitive development has some principles of logic where they are installed before the acquisition of language generating an activity, sensory and motor, and interaction with the environment.

We will now proceed to explain each of the points proposed earlier in the brief introduction that we have raised.

Piaget and Pedagogy

Piaget says that it is the first step or the first task that the educator must use to adapt the student in a learning situation, building the interest of the children so that they can understand and act by a method or an instrument. In the pedagogy that Piaget uses, it can be said that there are an explanation and a series of mechanisms such as assimilation and accommodation since they allow the children a restructuring of the experience because through this, they can do formal and concrete operations.

Piaget and Pedagogy

This pedagogy also speaks of education, which is being carried out through mental development as in language, play, experience, so as to be able to use mental functions arduously. His pedagogical theorization was based on both psychological, logical, and biological.

With this, we can see and observe the different points of view that Jean Piaget’s contributions to education and how to properly use the pedagogy to build the interaction student-teacher to allow the student and assimilate this process as a student. Thus, Piaget considers that certain stages of development occur at successive ages.

The Moments in Jean Piaget’s life

Jean Piaget was born on August 9, 1986, in Neuchatel Switzerland, a scientist universally known as the great theorist of Child Development is also a philosopher of science and a scholar of Logic, whose contributions to education have been profoundly significant.

From the age of 11, he was an assistant to a museum of Natural History and in 1918, obtained his doctorate in natural sciences. Piaget decided to dedicate himself to the philosophy concerned with reconciling faith and science, he set out for Zurich in search of training in Experimental Psychology.

He had discovered a field of research that offered many clues to penetrate the thought process of children. In 1923, he published his first book on language and thought in the child. In 1936, He was awarded the doctorate “honorary degree” of the University of Harvard, and in 1946 University offered him the same distinction the following year for publishing the psychology of intelligence.

In 1955, He created the international center for epistemology genetics in Geneva, in 1969, the American Psychological Association awarded him its annual prize in 1975 for publishing fundamental work the balance of cognitive structures where he proposed a general model of the development of knowledge, and he died on 16 September 1980.

Piaget, Epistemology, and Genetics

Piaget speaks of genetic epistemology, understanding epistemology here not like the science that studies science, but as the research of cognitive abilities in an absolutely empirical way. Without a doubt, this is the difference also of the epistemology, and in terms of the use of the concept of genetics, this refers not so much to the field of biology that studies the genes, but to the research of the genesis of thought in the human.

Piaget, Epistemology and Genetics

Although Piaget certainly recognizes that such genesis of thinking has a large proportion of patterns derived from genes, it was nevertheless one of Piaget’s great discoveries.

Thinking unfolds from a genetic basis only through socio-cultural stimuli as well as thought is configured by the information that the subject is receiving information and always learns in an active way by more unconscious and passive than the processing of information seems. This theory explains the development of knowledge from birth to adult thinking.

The construction of each new knowledge is always based on another prior knowledge, which turns out to be a refinement and integration of the knowledge already possessed. It is dedicated to valid knowledge where it is charged that the subject is clearly distinguished from the object, and this object is verifiable.

Foundations Of Piaget’s Genetic Epistemology

Genetic epistemology, in a certain way, is knowledge and intelligence that is an adaptive phenomenon of the human organism in the medium that manifests itself as a succession of knowledge structures. And it is the phases of intelligence that originate from one another are present from the innate reflexes of suction and grasping.

This theory combines some assumptions that it is important to take into account:

  • Constructivist assumptions: It refers to both the subject that knows and the object to be known. This means that both are the result of a continuous process of construction, therefore the knowledge is not totally innate or exclusively acquired;
  • Relativistic assumptions: Knowledge is always relative to a certain moment of the construction process;
  • Interactionist assumptions: Knowledge arises from the continuous subject-medium/ subject-object interaction. Cognitive development is the result of internal and external factors.

At the same time, Jean Piaget sets out four fundamental factors involved in the cognitive development of subjects.:

  • Organic maturation: it opens up countless behavioral possibilities in subjects;
  • Exercise and experience: they acquire in the action of the subject on the medium they enrich the individual with new cognitive tools;
  • Social interactions and transmissions: they are basically family and education that activate socialization processes as cognitive development;
  • The balancing process: the subject must interact with the medium that is the central mechanism that serves the organization of the individual before the new and its adaptation.

Stages of Child Development

Stages of Child Development

Piaget calls them stages where each of them is characterized by a particular structure. They are different forms available to the subject to address the problems, they would then be common ways of organizing reality and manifesting different motor, intellectual, affective domains. And they are as follows:

  • Sensor-Motor: From 0 to 2 years, where learning depends on immediate sensory experiences and bodily motor activities, the children are characterized by their marked egocentrism, that is, they try to impose their desire for action on reality without taking into account the dangers of the rules, etc.
  • Pre-operational: From 2 to 7 years, and that gives way to the construction of representative schemes. This is possible at the appearance of symbolic function, lack of reversibility, and explanations, which are inconsistent with reality.
  • Concrete Operational Stage: From 7 to 11 years, this is where thought achieves reversibility, which makes its operational mental actions are more flexible.
  • Formal Operational Stage: From the age of 11 where, according to the Geneva thinker, the child achieves propositional thinking and verbal hypothetical reasoning, and which is characterized by the maximum development of cognitive structures.

Intelligence Formation According to Piaget

For Piaget, intelligence is the ability to adapt to new situations and is linked to the process of building knowledge where two functions involve adaptation and organization. Here are some aspects of them:

Adaptation: This is an active process where the subject develops in the search for the balance lost by the presence of a new situation. Adaptation takes place through assimilation, a process that involves incorporating new knowledge from action schemes. Another process involved in adaptation is an accommodation that consists of previous knowledge to integrate new ones, and it is essential to clarify that this knowledge is generated in new experiences.

Organization: it is another complementary process in the construction of knowledge that allows the subject to give a mental order to achieve and restore new and old knowledge while having an organization of reflexes, this implies an internal organization; as for example you can think about how to organize a file, a database, etc. Thus, we can speak of a type of relationship that the logic is called reflex.

We must also take into account when there is a cognitive conflict in which the subject starts a search to establish the lost balance, basically is where this knowledge responds to a constant balancing process.

One of the indicators of most relevant is to be taken into account in what concerns the cognitive conflicts of any concept in the child at the same time. The importance of mistakes in the face of cognitive conflict is part of the process, and in order to overcome it, it is necessary to accept it to discover it in the confrontation with reality. The overcoming of this will be progressive and relative to the schemes of assimilation and accommodation with which the student appropriates reality. Without a doubt, Piaget’s theory takes pedagogically into account how to build from a mistake.

This expresses the way in which the child conceives the world from the point of view of Science and not from the point of view of the student. In this sense, it is essential to observe how the child knows no less than the adult but also uses a system of different ideas to interpret the world.

Learning and knowledge are processes of changing approximation insofar as the subject becomes aware of the mistakes or lack of competence in order to achieve success in the face of certain vicissitudes presented to them in the learning process; this leads to thinking as this instance of training in the child’s intelligence, is gradually approaching conceptions more elaborated from the logical and formal point of view.

The mistake caused by incorrect assimilations, constitute necessary and useful paths in the process of building knowledge, a correct result does not mean that there has been a genuine understanding of the content on the part of the student.

Piaget says that the mistakes have a very important role of tunneling in the processes of learning, it is essential to try to infer the processes that underlie the productions of the children that the evaluation of the results or the performance.

This knowledge is paramount for teachers as it will allow them to interact with their students in a dynamic and constructive learning process, thus allowing children to build their own knowledge in this theory.

Pedagogical Contributions Of Piaget in The Present Day

Without a doubt, the contributions of Jean Piaget to the present education is denoted as one of the great precursors –along with well-known pedagogues and researchers of Education of what Lopez Noreña (2011, pp. 35-36) criticizes in a study of the pedagogy :

When entering, initially in the background of Critical Pedagogy, you must necessarily look back to rethink the contributions of the great pedagogues who represented the movement called the New or Active School, being among others, Ovide Decroly, John Dewey, Edgar Claparède , Jean Piaget, William Kilpatrick, Roger Cousinet, Célestin Freinet, who elaborated pedagogical theories, opposed to traditional education.

Moreover, the history of critical pedagogy does not end with the contributions of previous pedagogues. It is necessary, to delve into (a) the Critical Social Science (Habermas,1984); (b) the Critical Theory of Education developed by Carr and Kemmis (1988), Stenhouse (1991); (c) The Thesis of other representatives of the Critical Theory, namely, Freire (1976), (1997) and (1998); Apple (2000), Giroux (1990), (1998) and (1999); McLaren (1997); Grundy (1998), among others.

The Escuela Nueva was an educational movement, and it was complex and broad, developed from the final decades of the 19th century and the beginning of the second millennium, spread mainly in Europe and North America. Of the basic principles, among others, shared by these schools in the framework of the New School, two stand out: the paidocentrism and the search for integral education-terms of great validity at present.

One of Piaget’s significant contributions to today’s education was that it was based on the fact that in the early years of pre-school education in preschool. He was seeking to achieve the cognitive development (learning) of boys and girls, and this is supported and complemented by the family that has taught and stimulated the children, giving them to learn some rules and norms that allow them to assimilate in a school environment.

Another contribution from Piaget, which we can see and reflected today’s schools is that the theory given in a class is not enough to say that the subject has been assimilated and learned since learning involves all methods of pedagogy, such as the application of knowledge, experimentation, and demonstration.

The main goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men who are creative, inventors, and discoverers. The second goal of education is to form critical minds that can verify and not accept everything offered to them (Piaget, 1984).

With respect to the content of the above quote from Piaget, which states explicitly the goal of the education of the human being and contrasted with the current education of the today so-called Society of Information and Knowledge (López Noreña, 2010) we can observe today that you may be taking in some educational aspects. The reason is that nowadays, children can transform knowledge that is presented to them and build new learning based on the guidance that the teacher has given, and in some cases, they are also able to question what they learn.

Another aspect energized by Piaget, like other well-known pedagogues, for the active development of the class is that children must use materials and activities to obtain the knowledge that is appropriate for their child’s age, taking into account their mental and motor abilities; in order to avoid to carry out tasks that go beyond their cognitive development.


With respect to everything that has been raised about Piaget’s theories, we can observe for him that the most important thing and what stands out in his theories is how the children develop their intelligence, since this is the one that allows them to organize and accommodate in the different aspects of their life both academic and social and how they will be able to understand everything that surrounds them.

Another critical situation to highlight in Piagetian thinking is that an essential goal for the Geneva-born thinker in the way of education is to look for different ways of teaching and to allow children to get out of monotony.

So that you not only learn to memorize but also make it part of your daily life and remember what you learned as something great. Jean Piaget, seeing that the child could not correctly develop the cognitive, decided to create various strategies so that the child could develop in a better way in the field of learning.

It is important to emphasize that Piaget helped to understand the different explanations that children interact to reality, considering their learning development, and also to actively include children when they are learning to let them express themselves.


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