Theories of Piaget on Changes in Art Education

Jean Piaget

  • Psychologist Jean Piaget's work was instrumental in helping people understand that a child's perceptual abilities develop differently than an adults. A child's ability to perceive an object goes through four stages: sensorimotor stage, preoperational stage, concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. The first stage is marked by the child learning to use her body in relation to the world. The second stage involves language development and the use of symbols like a broom to symbolize a horse. The third stage sees the emergence of reversibility. One example is that a child understands his dog is a Labrador and a Labrador is a dog. The final stage is marked by the emerging ability to think in abstraction and to exercise deductive reasoning. These stages can be identified in a child's art work.

Conceiving versus Perceiving

  • According to Kenneth Lansing in "Studies in Art Education," children's ability to draw changes with age and perception. For example; based on Piaget's work, Lansing postulates that during the early stages of child development, children's conceptual skills are undeveloped to such a degree that they cannot draw what they perceive to be the differences in the space between objects, or the actual size of an object. During the concrete operational stage, which stretches from about the ages of 7 to 11, a child gains the ability to meaningfully place objects in their proper space on the picture plane. However, the child does not do this during the earlier stages of development. Additionally, despite his developing art perceptual skills, intentional abstraction in art remains undeveloped.

Importance of Art Education

  • A child's ability to recreate shapes and objects on the picture plane is regulated by the child's cognitive development. Although it has been thought that a child's cognitive development happens regardless of the stimuli a child receives, this is not the case, according to the EduBlox website. Children must have access to proper educational tools to ensure these developmental abilities emerge. Art education helps to develop as well as to measure how these traits develop in a child.

Creating a Curriculum

  • Based on Piaget's work, the art educator might keep a couple of concepts in mind when developing art programs for children. First, because of the child's lack of cognitive development, her attempts at art should not be criticized in the early stages of development, because she is not capable of creating more sophisticated works in certain developmental stages. Second, a child's developmental stages may actually be sped up if a child is given a series of art exercises to challenge this development


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