Bust of Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget's influence is practically unparalleled. His body of work, has been critical and crucial in the theoretic development of psychology itself, but also in terms of practical utility, his influence has extended far beyond just this subject. Piaget's influence has spread to areas as diverse as psychology, education, childcare, parenting, evolution, philosophy and advertising, to name but a few.

Developmental Psychology
Piaget is widely regarded as one of the most influential pioneers of this field. Though his theory of cognitive development has since been redesigned and certain flaws in it discovered, it has nonetheless proved ground-breaking, and has been the influence for the theories and work of others. One example of a Piaget adherent would be the moral theorist Lawrence Kohlberg (1927-1987). Kohlberg described three stages of moral development in his 1958 doctoral dissertation: pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional. The stages are heavily influenced by Piaget's theory of cognitive development.

Lawrence Kohlberg

Naturally, Piaget's theories of cognitive development are extremely useful when applied to a crèche or classroom setting. In the latter half of the 20th century - particularly in the 1970s and 1980s - the education systems of North America and Europe underwent huge changes, and paradigm shifts, influenced by Piaget's work. The child was now seen as the centre of the education. This was central to Piaget's theoretical work, but it became a manifest reality in the school system at this time. The following quotation from the man himself, summates the concept and reason behind it.

"Education, for most people, means trying to lead the child to resemble the typical adult of his society . . . but for me and no one else, education means making creators. . . . You have to make inventors, innovators—not conformists" -- Jean Piaget

A less often discussed aspect of Piaget's legacy, is the influence he enacted upon the field of philosophy. While more subtle, and less numerous than in other fields, his influence is certainly apparent in the works of certain 20th century philosophers. The philosopher and moral theorist, Thomas Kuhn has stated that Piaget's work influenced and helped his meta-cognitive work, namely how systems of thought can change, resulting in a macro change (paradigm shift).

Thomas Kuhn