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Important Theories of Child development for CTET Exam

Dear Readers,

Read the study material on Child Development and Pedagogy for CTET Exam. The study material is based on the topic of Theories of Cognitive and Moral Development.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Jean Piaget, a child psychologist, laid emphasis on how learners interact with their environment and develop complex reasoning and knowledge. The key terms here used are assimilation, accommodation, and equilibration. Further, he states four stages of cognitive development depending on the perception and observation of a person.

These stages are the sensorimotor stage, preoperational stage, concrete operations, and formal operations.

States and its characterization-

1) Sensory-motor (from birth to 2 yrs.)

It is characterized by reflex actions of infants and children, At this time, they use their own physical or motor skills to develop their cognitive skills or make their own world.

2) Pre-operational (2-7 yrs)

It generally occurs from around 2-3 years to approximately 7 years of age. Partially logical thinking or thought begins during these years. Preoperational thinking can and usually is illogical. For example, John, based on his perceptions, thought that the taller, slender glass had more juice in it than the shorter, wider glass that he received. According to Piaget, they are logical thinkers and he called this as ‘egocentric stage’.

3) Concrete Operation (7-12 years)

In this middle stage of their childhood, children learn to think more logically and they also need concrete objects to demonstrate and to reach out to their conclusions. Thus, we could see children of this stage solving maths problems using blocks or their fingers.

4) Formal operations (12+ years)

This final stage encompasses rest of our lives. Piaget believes that after reaching this stage one is quite capable of thinking logically and solving problems in their heads. During this period, Children are more capable of abstract thinking and could deal with more complex issues.

Kohlberg’s perspectives of Moral Development

Lawrence Kohlberg was mainly interested in how children develop their ability to make moral decisions. He basically theorized six stages when people progress through three levels (comprising of 6 stages) when they develop their moral reasoning.

1. Pre-conventional level-It is mainly a test of their morality.

i. Punishment and Obedience Orientation – In this stage, people are motivated by trying to avoid punishment; their actions are bad if they get punished and good if they don’t.

ii. Self-Interest or Individualism – People are generally motivated by self-interest. Although elements of fairness are reciprocated they are most interested in ‘if you do harm to me, I will do to you’.

2. Conventional level-It also contains two levels and adolescence mainly operates at this level.

Good boy-good girl concept: people make moral decisions based on getting people to like them.

Law and Order orientation: it means performing one’s duty properly, showing respect to authority and

3. Post-Conventional morality – people define their values in relation to their ethical values.

Social terms and contracts: rules of the society could be changed for its welfare and they are not frozen.

Universal Ethical Principals: In a nutshell, people try to consider the interests of others when they make moral judgments but still try to find some means to satisfy their needs.

Limitations of Kohlberg’s Theory:

It mainly focuses on reasoning rather than on actual behavior.

It shows that children’s moral behavior and reasoning may be quite weak.

Most of the philosophers believe that values should be a part of an individual’s thinking so that his actions could be in harmony with his thoughts.

Lev Vygotsky’s Zone Of Proximal Development

His socio-cultural theory relates to both cognitive and social development. Here we will discuss how social interactions play a role in cognitive development of children and describe the stages of speech and language

1. Scaffolding: he saw children learning within social interactions while communicating. He emphasised the importance of language development for their cognitive development.

2. Cultural aspects: Both through informal and formal conversations and education adults convey to children the way their culture interprets and responds to the world. Specifically, as adults interact with children, they show the meanings they attach to objects, events, and experiences.

3.Speech and Language Development: this is the main assumption of Vygotsky’s theory that thought and languages become increasingly independent and important in first few years of life.

Vygotsky saw the adult as playing a vital role in developing of a child’s behaviour through ‘scaffolding’. He, therefore, emphasised the importance of language development, learning, and teaching to the child’s cognitive behavior and development.


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