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By D. G. Boyle (Auth.)

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Extra resources for A Students' Guide to Piaget

Sample text

This is not a distinct form of assimilation, but refers to the co-ordination of schemata, a co-ordination that occurs when schemata assimilate each other. For instance, a child may learn a visual schema, that is to say may learn how visually to inspect an object, and may separately learn a manipulative schema, that is, how to handle an object. Eventually the child will learn to look in order to handle, and handle in order to obtain a better view of the object. This reciprocal assimilation of schemata contributes eventually to the development of the understanding of the nature of objects.

Removal of the toy will be followed by a repetition of the movement on the child's part. We can talk of these actions as "secondary" because the movements involved are not the instinc­ tive ones such as sucking or grasping. Once a baby has developed a schema involving an action and the appearance of a favoured object, he may employ the same action in connection with other favoured objects. His behaviour thus generalizes, and we see the beginnings of intentional behaviour. This is made possible because, by now, the baby is gaining a fair degree of control over his visual-motor co-ordination, that is to say, if he wants to grasp something out of his reach, he is able to direct his hand towards the object with a good measure of success.

We may now ask why the 5-year-old child fails in this respect, and Piaget's answer is that he centres on one aspect of the situation. In our example the child centres on the height of the liquid, ignor­ ing the width. In the early stages of such an experiment a child will maintain that the taller vessel contains more liquid "because it is taller9'. If we repeat the experiment, choosing successively wider vessels into which to pour the liquid, a point will be reached where the child will start to claim that the shallower vessel has more "because it is wider".

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