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Children’s Thinking. The Important Questions. How do children think when they are born? Are there measurable stages of development? How do those changes occur? Why do individuals differ in their thinking skills?

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the important questions
The Important Questions
  • How do children think when they are born?
  • Are there measurable stages of development?
  • How do those changes occur?
  • Why do individuals differ in their thinking skills?
  • What are the connections between physical brain development and the development of thinking skills?
  • What Influence does culture have on thinking?
innate thinking how do children think when they re born
Innate Thinking: How Do Children Think When They’re Born
  • Common Western Perspectives on Innate Thinking Skills Include:

Associationist Perspective

Constructivist Perspective

Competent-Infant Perspective

  • Time Period: Late 1600s through 1800s
  • Theorists: John Locke, Donald Hume, John Stuart Mill
  • General Perspective: Infants enter the world with minimal capabilities. They can make associations among experiences.
  • Learning: Process: Children learn everything through experience.
  • “tabula rasa” – Latin for blank slate is how Locke saw the human brain at birth.
  • Time Period: 1900-1970
  • Major Theorists: James Mark Baldwin and Jean Piaget
  • General Perspective: Children are born with the ability to make associations among experiences, to use important perceptual skills, and to use certain rudimentary motor skills that allow them to explore their environment and construct concepts
  • Learning Process: Thinking skills develop in stages based on cumulative skills (physical/mental)
competent infant
  • Time Period: 1990 to the Present
  • Major Theorists: Carey and Gelman
  • General Perspective: Infants are born with a wide range of perception skills and understanding
  • Learning Process: Infants Learn through perceiving the world and classifying their experiences in rudimentary forms of adult thinking
how children understand distance 3 perspectives
How Children Understand Distance: 3 Perspectives
  • Associationist: Through experience: They move around and investigate objects to see their spatial relationships: No skills, they acquire them as they go along – through experience.
  • Constructivist: Developed over time as thinking skills develop in stages. Few skills. Skills develop in stages.
  • Competent-Infant: Infants (3m) already have the skills to see if things are close or far away. Born with the skills that mature as they age.
are there measurable stages of development
Are there measurable stages of development?
  • Associationists: children progress – brick by brick – with each new experience
  • Constructivists/Compentent-Infant: Children progress from one stage to the next through transformation: caterpillar to butterfly
assumptions about stages in cognitive development
Assumptions About Stages in Cognitive Development
  • Stages imply qualitative changes (new skills/not improvement of old skills)
  • Concurrence Assumption: children make the transition from one stage to another on many concepts at the same time.
  • Abruptness Assumption: Children make a sudden transition from one stage to another (epiphany)
  • Coherent Organization: Children’s understanding is organized and interconnected
how do changes in children s thinking occur
How Do Changes in Children’s Thinking Occur?
  • Some skills develop fully, partially, or remain undeveloped – for example: Language: children are born with the skill to speak all language sounds (undeveloped) as their skill to speak a specific language develops fully, they loose the ability to speak all language sounds (l,r in Chinese, rr in English)
piaget s take on changes
Piaget’s Take on Changes
  • Assimilation: children see experiences in terms of their existing understanding (dogs have 4 legs; all 4 legged animals are cows)
  • Accommodation: a person’s understanding is altered by new knowledge. If the new knowledge doesn’t fit their understanding, they try/learn something new (square peg in a round hole)
information processing approach to change
Information Processing Approach to Change
  • Automatization: using mental skills more and more efficiently as they require less attention
  • Encoding: using the most useful features of objects/events to form internal representations
  • Generalization: extension of knowledge in one context to other applicable contexts (assimilation)
  • Strategy Construction: They develop new procedures through problem solving (accommodation)
why do individuals differ in their thinking skills
Why do individuals differ in their thinking skills?
  • Children do not mature at the same time or in the same ways due to physical and cultural differences.
  • Standard Test of Intelligence: Stanford-Binet

IQ= Mental Age X 100

Chronological Age

Keep in mind that these tests are biased (cultural context/handicaps)

what are the connections between physical brain development and the development of thinking skills
What are the connections between physical brain development and the development of thinking skills?
  • Physical Growth: The brain grows 4X in size as the body matures
  • Neurons: Nerve cells in the brain which make interconnections to process and store information & facilitate movement – They change as we grow – experience determines pruning
  • Structures:
    • Subcortical: (thalmus, medulla, and pons)
    • Cortex: sits atop the subcortical parts of the brain. This structure makes high level cognitive skills possible.
what influence does culture have on thinking
What Influence does culture have on thinking?
  • The social world includes: people, artifacts, skills, and values which all create a cultural context for cognitive development
  • Socio-Cultural Theories: Suggest that social environment shapes though processes– “It takes a Village”
vygotsky s socio cultural theory
Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory
  • Zone of Proximal Development: The distance between what the child can accomplish independently and what the child can do with help
  • Social Scaffolding: Adults provide cognitive scaffolding by helping the child think about the task in context, modeling problem solving behavior, and providing guidance
  • Cultural Tools: Range of artifacts and ideas that allow people to achieve their goals/gain new understanding (Clock/time)