MARGARET DONALDSON & POST- PIAGETIAN THEORIES
MARGARET DONALDSON – Preschool curriculum in India
Donaldson’s main thesis is that young children are traditionally labelled as being poor communicators because they are egocentric, meaning that they have limited ability to “decentre”. Margaret Donaldson’s book Children’s Minds was first published in 1978 and is a “classic” book referred to by those studying the developing minds of children. Donaldson was a student of French psychologist Jean Piaget.
In Chapter 10, “The Desire to Learn”, Donaldson asserts that all babies have a desire to master their environment and achieve a sense of competence and control over their world. She rejects the notion that babies, children or other creatures attempt to achieve this mastery purely in order to obtain some form of “reward”. Achieving this competence and control is in itself a reward. That is why, she believes, it is vitally important to tap into this innate desire to learn and help children feel confident before the primary school years: once they reach school and believe they are significantly behind their peers, or find learning there a struggle, it can be harder to “close the gap” and to prevent a child from developing a negative, bitter attitude towards education and the education systemThere are many who criticize Piaget, one is Margaret Donaldson, she was a pupil of Piaget’s who challenged his theories in a her 1978 book, Children’s Minds.
pre-school children are not nearly so limited in their ability to ‘decentre’, or appreciate someone else’s point of view, as Piaget has for many years maintained.
(Donaldson, 1978: 30-31).
The evidence she gives to support this is that the experiments Piaget uses are not explained properly to younger children, two of the thesame experiments were carried out by Martin Huges and explained properly to a child; they were able to do it.
In another study, Hughes used a simplified version of the
mountains task and found that it was possible, by taking great care
over the way in which the problem was introduced, to get a high
proportion • of correct responses from pre-school children. So this
lends further support to the view that Piaget’s subjects did not
understand. (Donaldson, 1978: 23).
Donaldson also refers to the ‘mountains experiment’ as being to abstract, she also states that a person preforming these experiments is accustomed to abstract and formal modes of thought. These abstract experiments seem bewildering and senseless to a child.
Donaldson also shows evidence that Piagets idea that a child belives an object ceases to exsist when it is coverd; Tom Bower and Jennifer Wishart, report that in these circumstances children quickly reach out in the appropriate direction to find their toy again: Thus Piaget’. claims about egocentrism are once again challenged. They are yet to develop a full appreciation of spatial relations such as on, in, in front of, and behind. * They do not derive from the complete lack of a notion of a world of ‘other things’.
Another experiment was done by David Lloyd in which a talking toy panda asked for help. He found that, though the children would try to help the
panda, they were not so ready to signal when they themselves needed help. They were not given to indicating that a message which they had received was inadequate.
Therfore, the evidence shows that its not so black and white;pre-school children are not nearly so limited in their ability to ‘decentre’, or appreciate someone else’s point of view