The Emergence of the Objective World the World Made Sensible
Up to now we have been considering the child from the point of view of the observer. This may be one who intrudes as little as possible in the activities and interactions of the child with the people and objects in his normal surroundings, or the psychologist or paediatrician who deliberately intervenes to carry out some carefully controlled manipulation of the child or his environment. It is necessary to go a stage further and make an attempt to understand the world of the child as it is perceived by him. That it is possible to do so may be made clear by an example. A child who is handed what is in fact a small, shaped piece of wood and plastic will demonstrate that he has recognized the object for what it is meant to be by the way he handles it, as in Fig. 3.1 he tries to turn the tap on the kitchen sink, and subsequently explores the cupboards underneath. If he had not recognized the object as a representation or symbol his actions would be incomprehensible, and indeed he would not have been able to carry them out. This is not because of any physical limitation, but because he had not yet reached the appropriate level of cognitive development which enabled him to perceive the small object in his hand as a representation of the sink unit in his mother’s kitchen. It is on the basis of this sort of inference that Piaget has been able to reconstruct the child’s world. The pages which follow provide a summary of the three fundamental concepts of the object, space and causality which Piaget (1954) considers essential to a naive, but developing understanding of the external world.
KeywordsObjective World Invisible Displacement Kitchen Sink Shaped Piece Deferred Imitation
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