Friday, May 4, 2012

Conservation Task

Piaget measured the brain's development using a series of "conservation" tasks. You can see big difference between a 4 year old's and an 8 year old's brain with this experiment.

Fill two short glasses with the same amount of water.

[There once was an illustrative photo here.]

"Do the two glasses contain the same amount of water?"
Noah says, "Yes."

Empty all the water in one glass into a tall skinny glass.

[And another one here.]

"Do the two glasses contain the same amount of water?"
Noah says, "No, there's more water in the this glass because it's taller and skinnier."

I can't help but ask myself if he understands the meaning of the word amount. Is this a vocabulary problem or a conceptual problem? I'm not a scientist; I'm sure this discussion has been had. Piaget's conclusion is that Noah has not yet reached "operational" thinking. He's not yet using logic to solve problems.
[ I left this one for you.]
"But look, Mommy," he says.  "I can make the water the same amount."

And therein lies the crux of my Five Year Old Dilemma. It LOOKS like logic, it ACTS like logic, it might even SOUND like logic. But it's not.

1 comment:

twisterfish said...

Wow.... Doesn't that experiment right there prove that being a parent is so challenging? We, who understand logic, have to apply punishments and instructions to those that don't. I guess to be successful in that, we have to change our thinking to help them understand what we want from them. We have to think like they do, and that's the hard part.