Discuss the extent to which Piaget underestimated the abilities of children up to 11 years.
Piaget proposed the theory of Child Cognitive Development, which explains the processes and stages by which children develop knowledge and intelligence. Piaget found that intelligence was adapted as new situations were encountered, and that this was an active process. .
According to Piaget, each unit of intelligent behaviour is represented by a schema, which contains the information about the particular task or activity it is concerned with. An operation occurs when several schema's are used together to form a complex task such as driving a car. These schema's change to allow for new information as the child discovers more. Accommodation is the process of adapting a schema to fit with new information, assimilation is the process of interpreting and changing new information to fit with an existing schema. .
Using this information, Piaget was able to develop his theory that a child develops intelligence through a series of four stages. The first stage, the Semsorimotor stage, occurs between the ages of 0 and 2. During this stage a child develops basic schemas based on their current abilities - sensing and doing. These schemas will therefore be simple actions.
Piaget found that a child of this age does not have the abilities to differentiate between itself and the world. This is known as Ego Centrism. A child under 8 months also lacks the understanding of Object Permanence, that an object continues to exist even when it is not visible. Through his studies Piaget discovered that children only search for a hidden toy at 8 months. Between 6 and 7 months a child could only retrieve a partially hidden object, but not a fully hidden object. Piaget asserted the child does not search for the toy because it cannot imagine that it exists, and that a child needs to develop a schema of an object before it can understand Object Permanence.