Compare and contrast Piaget's and Vygotsky's theories of development.
Over the past centuries psychologists, educators and philosophers have pursued general theories of learning. Some theories strive to make sense of cognitive and intellectual development, others focus on social, emotional and personality development. These theories frequently differ in their answers to the principle question of learning and development.
One theorist, Jean Piaget, is one of the most widely acknowledged. Piaget's theory, more so known as Piaget's cognitive development theory, had a dramatic impact in the field of child development. Piaget, born in Switzerland in 1886, created a theory based around the development of mental structures called schemas. Schemas form the basis of how we understand the world. For example, a young child's schema would be "grasping an object", whereas an older persons schema might be "doing the shopping". As children grow, they develop and refine their schemas. For example, a child might have a general schema of a "dog", which with development, the schema would involve new features such as "it runs", "it bites" etc. As a child creates new schemas, Piaget believed this information is assimilated, or "fitted in" with present schemas. That is, assimilation uses current schemas to interpret new knowledge. Piaget believed that when we can assimilate changes in the environment we have achieved a state of cognitive equilibrium, or a "steady state". Accommodation is the term which works in opposition to assimilation. Accommodation is used when old schemas need to be adjusted or restructed to fit in with the new environment. For example, a baby may reach out and grasp a "bottle" they have been using, but then reaches out for a "cup", being a larger, heavier object they would have to adjust their schema and accommodate to the object, forcing them to adjust their grip. When a schema changes so much Piaget said it's an intellectual revolution.