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Landmark experiments in psychology
Tuesday 9, 16 and 23 December 2003 11.02-11.30pm

PROG 1 – Solomon Asch - Conformity

PROG 2 – Jean Piaget – The Three Mountains

PROG 3 – Sir Frederic Bartlett – The War of the Ghosts

Three Mountains
Piaget's 'Mountain Task'
Listen again Listen to this edition

PROG 2 - Jean Piaget - The Three Mountains

We have to thank the Swiss developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget for 'learning by play' applied to the classroom - a personal discovery which he believed to be far more effective than sitting in rows learning by rote. His idea was that children don't just store facts, they process them. As they interact with things around them every day they build a model of the world in their minds, so in the classroom they need the chance to experiment.

There's no disputing the importance of Piaget's educational legacy, but critics have questioned the methodology of much of his experimental work and have concluded that some of his experiments were basically flawed. One such is the Three Mountains - from this experiment Piaget concluded that, because young children could not imagine what someone on the other side of the mountain model from the side they were standing could see, they were incapable of empathy.

Subsequent experiments allowing children to imagine different social, rather than spatial, situations have had very different results. Claudia Hammond asks how far we should rely on Piaget's findings today.

Those taking part:-
Margaret Donaldson
Children's Minds by Margaret Donaldson. Fontana Press 1978 ISBN 0-00-686122-9

Sue Eagle, Head Teacher of Tuckswood Community First School

John Flavell - Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Stanford University
The Developmental Psychology of Jean Piaget by John H Flavell. D Van Nostrand Company Ltd, 1963
Cognitive Development by John H Flavell. Pearson Education Inc., 1977 ISBN 0-13-791575

Martin Hughes, Professor of Education at University of Bristol

Annette Karmiloff-Smith - Professor of Neurocognitive Development at Institute of Child Health

Karin Murris, Educational Consultant

John Oates - Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Open University

Peter Sutherland - Lecturer at Institute of Education, University of Stirling
Cognitive Development Today by Peter Sutherland. Paul Chapman Publishing, 1992 ISBN 1-85396-133 7

Jacques Voneche - Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychology at The University of Geneva.

Director of Jean Piaget Archives
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