You are on page 1of 15



1.1 Background of Jean Piaget

Jean William Fritz Piaget (Jean Piaget) was Swiss psychologist who has

developed the theory of cognitive development. He was born on August 9, 1896 in

Neuchatel, Switzerland and died September 17, 1980. He was an influential

experimenter and theorist in the field of developmental psychology and in the study

of human intelligence. Having a father who worked as literature writer, Piaget learned

from his father the value of systematic work. His mother suffered neurotic

temperament which has triggered Piaget’s interest in psychology especially in

psychoanalysis and pathological psychology. Other than that, Piaget also has the

Swiss scholar Samuel Cornut as his godfather who has influence him in philosophy

and epistemology during his adolescence. Piaget was a brilliant scholar who has

published his first paper at the age of 10 and when he was 22 he already received

his Ph.D from University of Neuchatel. He has studied in many fields before he

realized his real interest which was in the field of inductive and experimental


In 1925, Piaget then took the chair of philosophy at the University of Neuchatel

to teach psychology, philosophy, science, a philosophy seminar, and sociology. At

the same time, his first daughter was born followed by his second daughter in 1927

and a son in 1931. He spent his time with his children and at the same time

observing their developmental growth. By doing this he was able to understand the

development stages that happened in a child. With the help from his wife and

children, he was able to learned about this developmental stages in the most direct

way no just a theory-based study but more likely to be in a very practical way of

observing the different stages of growth. Piaget was interested in the thought


from age 7 to 11. 2 . From this. His theory of development is still used throughout the world until now including in Malaysia.processes that underlie reasoning. from age 2 to about age 7. which begins in adolescence and spans into adulthood. Piaget developed a stage theory of intellectual development that included four distinct stages: the sensorimotor stage. from birth to age 2. and the formal operational stage. he observed children of various ages and introduced the Stages of Cognitive Development which then become the basic reference in differentiating the educational system according to the children development stages. the preoperational stage. the concrete operational stage.

0 PIAGET’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENTAL GROWTH According to Jean Piaget. At this stage. This includes thought. putting things in their mouths. infants only can recognize and aware of what is immediately in front of them.2. During this stage. and teens. 2. They can only focus on what they see. and physical interactions with their immediate environment. The Piaget stages of development are a blueprint that describes the stages of normal intellectual development.1 Sensory Motor Stage The first stage is the sensorimotor stage which is also known as the stage of learning to represent the world internally. Usually if an object is hidden from view. judgment. children. Since they not yet possess any information about their surrounding. it will 3 . and knowledge. kids have not yet learned to use mental representations or images to represent objects or events. four-month- olds will not try to search for it because to them when something is out of side. who recorded the intellectual development and abilities of infants. children progress through a series of four key stages of cognitive development marked by shifts in how they understand the world. they will try and keep testing things by activities that enhance their motor skills such as shaking or throwing things. During this stage. The stages were named after psychologist and developmental biologist Jean Piaget. from infancy through adulthood. Piaget believed that children are like "little scientists" and that they actively try to explore and make sense of the world around them. what they are doing. Kids would learn about the world through trial and error. kids tend to learn through experiments and experiences. It starts from the 0 to 2 years old. Their ability is too limited and just starting to slowly develop.

2 Preoperational Stage The second stage is the preoperational stage or the growth of symbolic activities. and engage in make-believe. and walking. according to Piaget. This is because. which allows them to understand the difference between past and future. However. it is a little bit different with the eight or nine-month-olds because they will attempt to search for the hidden object. Kids will be able to use language more mature ways with larger range of vocabulary. Near the end of the sensorimotor stage. kids are still considered as immature. They have developed object permanence which means the understanding that objects continue to exist even after they are no longer seen. young children are able to think about things symbolically. This stage starts from 2-6 or 7 years old. infants reach another important milestone which is the early language development. Usually during this stage kids has started to develop the ability to form mental representations of objects and events. a sign that they are developing some symbolic abilities. 2. However their thinking is based on intuition and still not completely logical. they have difficulty understanding that other people may perceive the world differently.out of their mind. It is also give the meaning that their memories are developing. standing. They think that 4 . During this stage. During this stage. their increased physical mobility leads to increased cognitive development. The verbal ability or the language will also develop as does the beginning of thinking in words. kids are believed to be egocentric which means. They also have developed memory and imagination. It is believed that these developments are the marking of the end for the sensorimotor period and the start of the preoperational stage. After infants start crawling.

they 5 . if asked to sort various objects. Kids in this stage still have lack understanding in relational terms. shape. Thus. they are also lack in the ability to arrange objects in order from large to small. those which take account of several features at once. They also begin to make greater use of categories in describing and thinking about the physical world. kids will start to demonstrate logical and concrete reasoning. Other than that. they begin to engage in contextualized or logical thought. oranges. They starts to accept others opinion.3 Concrete Operational Stage The concrete operational stage is the third stage which indicates the emergence of logical thought. they are not able to differentiate and understand darker. apples. they are also lack in conservation. For example.the world revolved around them and their opinion will be the right one since they are seeing things in their own point of view and believe in that view. despite major variations in color. During this stage. They come to understand reversibility -the fact that many physical changes can be undone by reversing the original action. larger. there will be many important cognitive skills emerge. kids will start to develop operational thinking which the ability to perform reversible mental actions. four-year-olds will often do so in terms of color or size. when children reach the stage of concrete operations. and pineapples as fruits. and harder. Usually at the age of 7 to 11 or 12. Other than that. Finally. and size. For example. Finally. Older children place objects in more complex categories. they will categorize bananas. 2. the understanding that the physical attributes of an object remain unchanged even though their appearance has changes as in how water can change its shape according to its container’s shape. At this stage kids are usually start to realize the difference in one’s thought and feelings.

Children learn to conserve such quantities as number. Adolescents who reach this fourth stage of intellectual development are able to logically use symbols related to abstract concepts. weight. teenagers about 13 years old until adolescence are involved. however. During this stage.4 Formal Operational Stage The last stage introduced by Piaget is the formal operational stage. 2. During this time. Compare to the previous stage where kids can only think logically about concrete events and objects. Piaget defines conservation as the ability to see that objects or quantities remain the same despite a change in their physical appearance. If they faced any problem they will be 6 .will also be able to understand the concept of conservation. They also can ponder abstract relationships and concepts such as justice. and consider possibilities. This may have to do with changes in frontal lobe function by this age. most children still cannot tackle a problem with several variables in a systematic way. During this stage. During this final stage of cognitive development. Conservation is the major acquisition of the concrete operational stage. such as algebra and science. though they may not achieve all concepts at the same time. they are able to create doubt and having assumption. major features of adult thought appear. they will become capable of making hypothetical-deductive reasoning. and volume. formulate hypotheses. but also with possibilities about potential events or relationships that do not exist but can be imagined even though they have no past experience of that particular event. They will start to deal with abstraction as well as concrete and reality. They can think about multiple variables in systematic ways. area. substance (mass). or concrete. They can deal not only with the real. As a result. adolescence can think abstractly.

the theories are often naive. because the individuals who construct them do not consider adequately the consequences in real life. They will be able to reason deductively to formulate specific hypotheses. Ballantyne. They assess the logical validity of verbal statements. 7 . and that continued intellectual development in adults depends on the accumulation of knowledge. which can then be tested by examining existing evidence (or acquiring new evidence). he insisted that the formal operational stage is the final stage of cognitive development. .F. even when those refer to possible events rather than to real events in the world (P. Although Piaget believed in lifelong intellectual development. Individuals who reach the stage of formal operations use propositional reasoning. While this reasoning may be logical. 2006).able to formulate a general theory that includes all possible factors. The development is actually a life-time learning process and it depends on the individual ability to develop according to their rate of developmental growth.

His theory of cognitive development has been used for centuries and still being used until today. As far that we concern.1 Nursery / Taska Long before this. Other than being used around Europe countries. 3. in Malaysia we only provide the early education to kids starting from 5 years old until 6 years old only. In Malaysia. there are a few slight changes that have been made to make sure that the system created according to Piaget’s theory can suit our students. the early nurseries only act as a baby daycare center before and have nothing to do with educational matter. his theory is also being used in Malaysia. But then. in Malaysia there are also stages used to differentiate the different level of education given to the civilians. there are some people who see the benefits and opportunities in 8 . This was done to make the stages more suitable with our difference in developmental growth and to make our educational system more efficient. when the awareness on the importance of starting the education among kids in earlier period has arises. As the awareness grows. the third stage is the primary level. the second stage is the kindergarten level. The effectiveness of the stages is compromised and believed to be among the best theories that have been introduced.3. the education system is differentiate into 5 levels which is the first stage is the nursery level. there are quite a number of private nurseries established in our country. We can see that in our country. However. The stage provided is known as the kindergarten stage. We can see that in our country we have one stage extra if compared with what has been proposed by Piaget.0 APPLICATION IN MALAYSIA’S EDUCATION SYSTEM The cognitive development stages suggested by Jean Piaget has make him became one of the top pioneer in education history. the fourth stage is the secondary level and the last stage would be the university level.

Aware of these trend and importance of it. these kids will learn while playing. PERMATA Negara’s program has its own curriculum which developed according to the National Educational Theory. Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah binti Mansor. there are a huge numbers of nurseries that provide the kids with knowledge according to their age. As we can see in current situation. 3-4 years old and an addition module for 4 years old kids 9 . They believe that kids will learn better through playing since they are enjoying themselves. 1-2 years old. the First Lady of Malaysia. This also helps to instill the fact that learning is a fun process and it is not stressful in the kids’ minds. 24 2008. at the nursery.A. The concept use in the teaching methodology is play and learns. This program is said to be the idea of Y.Bhg. The PERMATA curriculum consists of 6 modules which are set according to the kids’ age. This is because.making a normal baby daycare center into a school for very young learners. patriotism. be able to appreciate the cultural diversity and practicing healthy lifestyle. kids will be able to learn through experience and experiments. At the PERMATA Negara’s program. The module is divided according to 6-12 months. This program focused on providing an early childhood education to kids around 4 years old and below. Some also used the method and theories proposed by the other pioneers in early education such as Friedrich Froebel and Maria Montessori. The curriculum stresses on not only the development of intellectual but also on the kids’ socioemotional and spiritual development. The aim of this program is to provide the kids with a holistic educational program that can help them gain the experiences of early childhood education and at the same time will produce kids with high intellectual. the government then came up with the idea of PERMATA Negara’s Program on October. 2-3 years old.

Moreover. preschool education in Malaysia is positioned as the preparatory stage for primary education. although the significance of learning English from an early age is emphasized. Tadika Perpaduan and a few more which belong to the government and many more which established by the NGOs and private. it is more advance that the curriculum used by the nursery since these kids need to be able to read and write as they finished the preschool. Kids will have the opportunity to mix with their friends and develop their social and verbal skills. while preparing children for primary education. the preschool curriculum is organized to develop competent human resources with the dual aims of uniting the Malaysian people and promoting economic development. the practice of Islamic and other moral values is also important.2 Kindergarten / Tadika Kindergarten in Malaysia which is also known as the preschool stage is a stage established to give the kids an early view of formal school. In Malaysia we have Tadika KEMAS. the primary school. For example. 3. In this respect. the curriculum of early childhood education promotes national unification among ethnic groups. The kids will also learn how to take care of themselves and be prepared physically and mentally for the next stage of education which is the kindergarten stage. At the same time. consideration is also given to the languages other than Malay that are spoken by non-Malays. As such. This stage is considered as a preparatory stage for the kids before they enroll in the formal educational system.with an advance cognitive development. Usually the curriculum used in the preschool is not that much different from the curriculum used in the nursery. According to Sugimoto (2005) and Tejima (2006) as cited in Akiko Kamogawa (2010). However. the ability to communicate in the official language of Malay is also given importance. 10 .

the curriculum used for the primary school is known as Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Rendah (KBSR) and also known as New Primary School Curriculum. By this means. on a trained. students’ education is more stressed on the basic skills in learning. These developments are also known as JERIS which act as a guideline in educating students. At this level.3 Primary School Primary school is provided for 7 to 12 years old kids. Level 1 consists of the first two years start from standard 1 until standard 3. The KBSR is rooted in sound educational theories. writing (menulis) and lastly arithmetic (mengira). intellectual (intelek) and social (social). but it depends for its success to a very large extent. These skills are known as the 3M which includes reading (membaca). This stage consists of 6 years of learning process which is divided into two levels. In Malaysia. Teachers should be trained to create materials and 11 . The main purpose of KBSR is to produce well rounded students who are balance in academic. moral and etiquette. it hopes to provide students with all-rounded individual development which will help him operate efficiently within the social structure of this country. skills. It adopts a double-pronged approach to satisfy the educational requirements of the Malaysian school-going child which is to raise the literacy level of the pupil and to develop their cognitive and thinking skills. the curriculum also emphasizes on the individual development that consists of physical (jasmani). dedicated and hard working teaching- force which needs massive support from the administrative and bureaucratic machinery that surrounds it. spiritual (rohani). Other than focusing on the 3M. While the second stage which is level 2 consist of the last three years including standard 4 until standard 6. 3. emotion (emosi).

Students need to complete the whole 5 years of secondary education before they can continue their study in the higher educational system as in the university level. It is almost the same as in the primary schools where it is divided by two stages. Secondary schools in Malaysia are open for students from the age of 13 until the age of 17. balanced and unified way. especially in the higher form.4 Secondary Schools The secondary schools in Malaysia provide a new level of education for students. humanity and social as the basic of life-long education. Therefore. they will start to develop higher ability to question and to get involved in an argument. students are triggered to think in a more objective and abstract ways. students will start to learn in a more mature way and they will start to 12 . The curriculum used for Malaysian secondary education system is known Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah (KBSM). the purpose of secondary school is to take the knowledge that has been learnt by students during their primary school to a higher level of understanding and to make it more practical rather than just a theory-based knowledge. It does not stress only on the subject-matter and the ability of students to understand the academic only but also trigger the students to be able to behave well and possess good etiquette and behavior. the authorities concerned should come up with measures that would act as hurdle-breakers and incentives. The first stage is from form 1 until form 3 and the second stage is from form 4 until form 5. Also.activities that exploit the KBSR methodology. 3. At this level. KBSM focuses on the individual potential development in a holistic. The secondary school phase is a continuation of the learning process from the primary school. During the secondary school. Here. The first level is known as lower form while the second level is the higher form. Therefore the content of KBSM includes knowledge and the practice of moral values.

students are prepared for their future job. Diploma. matriculation and the foundation programs. master and doctorate. can continue their study either to the higher level.learn something more complicated compared to what they learnt during the lower form. These separation in forms helps students to adjust and adapt to the changes in the learning process exist in secondary school and how it is differ to what they have been exposed during the primary school. This stage can be divided into a few levels such as diploma level which is at the same level as STPM.5 Tertiary Level The next level of education in Malaysia is the tertiary level. matriculation and foundation levels can be found in university while STPM level (pre-university) can be found in secondary schools. One of the choices is the form 6 which will take up 2 years of studying period. competitive with the ability to predict the future challenges and ready to act effectively along with global development. who have finished their secondary school and have taken their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). they will then precede their study to higher levels which are bachelor degree. Students. 3. The tertiary education level in Malaysia is controlled by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) whilst both primary and secondary schools are controlled by the Ministry of Education. During this level. The higher education system is developed to ensure that the public universities (IPTAs) are capable of producing students with high reputation in academic achievement. This level can be divided into a few more levels. After they finished this level. 13 . They can choose which field they are interested in and then continue their study on that particular field.

Other than that. Here. we can see that the educational level should be based on the students’ ability to absorb the knowledge and therefore they should not be force to learn something that is way beyond their ability.4. It is actually according to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development but it has already been adjusted to suits the current educational development. it also emphasizes on the different levels of cognitive development and how it can influence the efficiency of the educational system used. John Dewey. Other than Piaget’s theory.0 CONCLUSION Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development highlights on the importance of early childhood education. This is because. Piaget stress more on the early level of education because at this stage. He also emphasizes more on this stage because the education should starts at the early age since kids is way easier to be shaped. we can create a memory of learning is something that should be enjoyed. our country also refers to many other educational pioneers like Maria Montessori. Gardner’s theory of difference in intelligent and many more. His cognitive theory helps in constructing the best educational system in a lot of countries around the world. Piaget’s cognitive psychology connected with the children’s ability to think and to reason with the teaching and learning in schools. 14 . As we can see in our own country Malaysia. it may lead to stress and they will see education as a stressful thing instead something enjoyable to be done. we have implemented the educational system according to certain stages.

Retrieved on June 21.html 15 .309339#ixzz2XXoFjaPS x. Malaysia Education: Education System of Malaysia. Aisyah Sulaiman.html iv. Smith.php?article=system vii.blogspot. F.nst. Piaget’s Theory: An Overview. Kendra.0 REFERENCES i. R. Kamogawa.html vi.html ii. (2000). (2011). (2012). Benaroch. Retrieved on June 21. 2014 from http://www.simplypsychology. (2009). 2014 from http://www.).gov. (2006).com/2013/05/kurikulum-bersepadu-sekolah- menengah. 2014 from http://psychology.html ix. Retrieved on June 22. 2014 from http://www. Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah. (2013).htm v. Early Childhood Education in Malaysia: A Comparison with Japan. KBSR & KBSM. Ministry of Higher Education. Making Our Children World-class.5. 2014 from http://www. (2010).com/2011/12/kbsr-kbsm-berdasarkan- laporan. Zainudin Abdul 2014 from http://1kimia. P. (2012). Jean Piaget. Piaget Stages of Development. Retrieved on June Ballantyne.about. (2009). Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development.htm iii. Retrieved on June 22. A Brief Biography of Jean Piaget. Retrieved on June 22.blogspot. 2014 from McLeod. 2014 from http://www. Retrieved on June S. Retrieved on June 22. Retrieved on June 21. 2014 from http://www. (n.webmd. 2014 from http://fadzilmahasiswa.d. children-world-class-1. Mohd Fadzil Abdul Hanid. Retrieved on June 21. A.