Cognitive Development – Thinking

Beyond Piaget/Thinking
*Pragmatic thought is when logic becomes a tool
for solving real-world problems.
*Inconsistencies are accepted as a part of life.
*Contrasts with the adolescent world
of possibilities.
*Learn the transition from dualism to relativism
in college.
*Probably because you are taught to think this
way (Vygotsky).
*Simply because you do not know which idea is
better, does not mean there is no truth or that
all ideas are created equal.
Schaie’s Theory
*Acquisitive Stage: Childhood & Adolescence
*Achieving Stage: Early Adulthood
*Responsible Stage: Middle Adulthood (Executive
*Reintegrative Stage:
Late Adulthood
* Not a part of Piaget’s theory (Piaget was a modernist)
* Relativistic vs. dualistic thinking
* The idea of Postformal thought is closely aligned to the
concept of postmodern thought
Has these characteristics?
Contextual, Provisional
Relativistic (no absolutes)
Realistic, practical
Open to emotions & subjective
* Traditional (modernist, premodernist) Western thinking
* (European, hemisphere, Christian)
* Truth is objective, universal
* Absolute truth applies to everyone, everywhere (all cultures), all the
* This is the basis for science (modernism)
* Also the basis for theistic religions.
*Reaction to and denial of modern thought and
formal logic.
*Truth is the “social construction of reality”.
*Hence, truth is relative to cultures, societies,
religions, etc.
*People should try to embrace all variations of
“truth”. All ideas are created equal.
*Premodernism, Modernism,
Historical changes in the Intellectual Thinking
Framework among Academics and Intellectuals
* Belief in the supernatural, a spiritual reality from which life
gains its meaning
* Nature is God’s creation.
* Human beings are sinful, but valuable and the object of God’s
* The physical world is orderly and knowable.
* Truth is objective and there are absolutes.
* Man, society and nature are not operating autonomously, but
depend upon the sovereignty of God.
* The supernatural was discounted, ignored.
* Religion was replaced with reason.
* The sovereignty of God was replaced with the
sovereignty of human reason (operating on the data
of the senses). (science)
* Sought a rational religion (deism), where God
created the universe and abandoned it to man.
* Morality became utilitarian.
* Materialism – The only reality is what we can sense.
* Things are understood by causes – effect within
a closed system.
* Actions are good if they make the system
(society) work and evil if they do not.
* (Can justify slavery, child labor, abortion,
euthanasia, etc. under this system)
* Social sciences – Can apply scientific methods to study people and
* Can construct or engineer societies and economies.
Karl Marx:
Communist society will have no private property, no religion, and
individualism and native cultures will be suppressed.
* Existentialism.
There is no inherent meaning or purpose in life.
There are only the orderliness of nature and logical conclusions.
* Relativism – People must create their own meanings.
“What’s true for
you may not be true for me.” Since meanings are personal and
subjective, they must all be equally valid. It becomes impolite or
politically incorrect to tell anyone that you think they are wrong.
* Modernism peaked in the 20th Century.
* Postmodernism challenged its belief in linear progress, absolute
truth, rational planning, standardization of knowledge, and
“totalization of chaos” – the imposition of order which would be
treated as objective and universally binding.
* Postmodernism sought to replace it with reality as a “social
construct” – where order is only provisional and varies from
person to person. It embraces fragmentation and indeterminacy
instead. It “affirms the chaos”.
* Societies who suffer schism of the soul commit cultural suicide.
* Fall into a sense of abandon
* Stop believing in morality
* Succumb to escapism
* Sense of drift – yield to a meaningless determinism as if their efforts
do not matter
* Feel guilt or self-loathing due to moral abandon
* Accept almost anything with uncritical tolerance
* Surrender themselves to the “melting-pot”
* Are decentered – not anchored to anything
* Feel anxious, irrational and helpless
*Russian psychologist
*Contemporary of Piaget
*Died young, short career
*Recently popular in United States
*Better suited to postmodern thinking
* Children develop their ways of thinking and
understanding primarily through interaction with others.
* Minds are shaped by culture
* Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)
* Scaffolding
* Private speech
* Language used to plan, guide & monitor behavior
* Vital role of teaching
* Assess & use the ZPD
* Use more skilled peers
* Monitor & encourage use of private speech
* Place instruction in a meaningful context