Jean Piaget

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Happiness is the light on the water. The water is cold and dark and deep.
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For me, education means making creators... You have to make inventors, innovators, not conformists.

Jean Piaget (9 August 189616 September 1980) was a Swiss developmental psychologist, famous for his work with children and his theory of cognitive development.


  • Knowing reality means constructing systems of transformations that correspond, more or less adequately, to reality. They are more or less isomorphic to transformations of reality. The transformational structures of which knowledge consists are not copies of the transformations in reality; they are simply possible isomorphic models among which experience can enable us to choose. Knowledge, then, is a system of transformations that become progressively adequate.
  • I am convinced that there is no sort of boundary between the living and the mental or between the biological and the psychological. From the moment an organism takes account of a previous experience and adapts to a new situation, that very much resembles psychology.
    • Interview with Jean Claude Bringuier (1969)
  • As you know, Bergson pointed out that there is no such thing as disorder but rather two sorts of order, geometric and living. Mine is clearly living. The folders I need are within reach, in the order of frequency with which I use them. True, it gets tricky to locate a folder in the lower levels. But if you have to find it, you look for it. That takes less time than putting them away every day.
    • Conversations with Jean Piaget (1980) by Jean Claude Bringuier
  • Education, for most people, means trying to lead the child to resemble the typical adult of his society... But for me, education means making creators... You have to make inventors, innovators, not conformists.
    • Conversations with Jean Piaget (1980) by Jean Claude Bringuier
  • The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.
    • As quoted in Education for Democracy, Proceedings from the Cambridge School Conference on Progressive Education (1988) edited by Kathe Jervis and Arthur Tobier


  • 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.
  • During the earliest stages of thought, accommodation remains on the surface of physical as well as social experience.
  • It is with children that we have the best chance of studying the development of logical knowledge, mathematical knowledge, physical knowledge, and so forth.
  • Our problem, from the point of view of psychology and from the point of view of genetic epistemology, is to explain how the transition is made from a lower level of knowledge to a level that is judged to be higher.
  • Scientific knowledge is in perpetual evolution; it finds itself changed from one day to the next.
  • Scientific thought, then, is not momentary; it is not a static instance; it is a process.
  • The current state of knowledge is a moment in history, changing just as rapidly as the state of knowledge in the past has ever changed and, in many instances, more rapidly.

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