Piaget suggests that, children acquire knowledge through continuously interacting with the environment around them rather than just being taught how to do things. This leads to the children developing their own generated understanding of the world around them through acquisition of new knowledge by forming mental representations of things they get to interact (Corry). According to Piaget, “During the earliest stages the child perceives things like a solipsist who is unaware of himself as subject and is familiar only with his own actions” (Brainy Quote). These words show that a child develops knowledge first on their own through experiences, and then creating inner behaviours and feelings that affect how they respond to the environment around them. As this knowledge develops within a child, Piaget suggests that there are three types of knowledge that one has to go acquire in order to develop their own personal knowledge. He says, “It is with children that we have the best chance of studying the development of logical knowledge, mathematical knowledge, physical knowledge, and so forth” (Brainy Quote). Physical Knowledge is the initial type of knowledge that children develop. Next follows the logical mathematical type of language which is developed after one is able to undertake the process of critical thinking. The third type of knowledge is social knowledge which builds on ones communication skills and the ability to create relationships with those around us (Schreiner, 2012).
Physical knowledge is developed through one’s own exploration of the world. This statement is in line with Piagets statement that, “In other words, knowledge of the external world begins with an immediate utilisation of things,” (Brainy Quote). Through interaction with different things using different means like touching to tell the difference between textures of different objects, tasting to identify the different types of tastes and, looking around them to identify the differences between things, differentiate between different types of colors and hues children create their own knowledge of the physical nature of objects. This also helps children understand why there exists the difference between different objects since they get to have a personal interaction with the behavioral characteristics and attributes of these objects. Physical knowledge is not taught but is rather acquired through constantly interacting with environment around them. It sets the early stage for the child to create his or her tactics to help them arrive at sound decisions. This means that the child now develops critical thinking ability since they have already understood the reality around them. Piagets suggests that, “Knowing reality means constructing systems of transformations that correspond, more or less adequately, to reality” (Brainy Quotes). Physical knowledge is also important since it is still employed by children as they grow since they still continue to experience new objects and create their own understanding of them in their growth process (Schreiner, 2012).
Logical Mathematical knowledge is developed by a child once he or she is able to apply his or her own critical thinking process to help them make sound decisions. Logical Mathematical knowledge is continuously developed through the process of children synthesizing the information they have managed to gather through using their physical knowledge. This type of knowledge is based on establishing the relationships existing between objects and it cannot be taught to a child.
The third type of knowledge that a child develops is Social knowledge which is developed through social settings a child is exposed to. Children are not able to develop this knowledge on their own. They are aided by other people through what they are told is right and what is wrong. It is the most difficult type of knowledge that children find hard to understand. This is because it comprises of the tiresome and lengthy process of understanding the communication skills used in the society. This involves acquiring the right speech abilities, gestures and facial expressions and also understands the meanings of different emotions.
Knowledge is acquired continuously through the child’s growth stages. As the child acquires the different types of knowledge, it does not mean that the child looses the previously acquired type of knowledge. This pilling up of knowledge enables the child to have the ability to erase previously wrongly acquired information and replace it with new information. This process is the one that leads to the child finally getting to master their social type of knowledge which is the last to acquire and also the most difficult (Princeton).
To achieve these three types of knowledge children have to undergo six different stages. These stages are sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational.
Sensorimotor is the first stage and it takes place between the ages of 0 – 2 years. This stage involves children developing individual responses through developing sensory abilities and also their movement patterns. This is followed by children developing specific habitual traits and behaviours. The third step involves the child developing the ability to execute the usage of their sight and understanding concurrently. This enables the child to create familiarity with the environment. This is closely followed with the child creating methods of doing things and then learning to experiment how to do these things so as to perfect their skills in doing them.
The second stage is the Preoperational stage which occurs between the ages of 2 – 7 years. At this stage the children learn how to implement their communications skills and using the little speech learnt repetitively. According to Piaget, this is because while at this stage they cannot make the differences between objects with almost similar physical characteristics.
The next stage is the Concrete operational Stage which takes place between the ages of 7 – 11 years. This stage is characterised by the child being able to create conclusions out of analysing different facts of a situation. This is to enable the child to create their critical thinking process so as to arrive at decisions. They are now able to understand the differences that exist between objects in terms of their sizes, quantities, colours and hues.
The final stage is the formal operation stage which takes place between the ages of 11 – 15 years. This stage usually involves the child being able to relate to the emotions portrayed by others in the society. Here the children are able to build their knowledge on repercussions of doing certain things. This enables them to differentiate between the right things they should do and also the right time to do things. They also develop the ability to execute specific methods to enable them solve any dilemmas they may encounter. This is because they can now apply logic to enable those relating situations.
It is thus clear that the physical knowledge, logical mathematical knowledge and social knowledge are all used simultaneously as they are acquired. This is because as the child progresses through the different stages, they are able to use their previously acquired facts about things to help them improve their critical thinking process. This means that they continuously improve their knowledge as they head towards adult hood. Thus it is important to understand that, even though children also use their experiences with the environment to build on their knowledge, they also have to learn to associate with situations so as to help them know the course of action for those specific situations.