Born in Switzerland in 1896, Jean Piaget received his doctoral degree at the age of 22 and went on to become one of the most famous psychologists of his time.
Piaget’s background was in biology, as a teenager he was known for his studies and publications on mollusks. After studying natural sciences at the University of Neuchâtel (where he also held positions in sociology and psychology), and while assisting Dr. Alfred Binet, the founder of a French boys’ school with intelligence testing, Piaget himself developed awareness in the intellectual development of children. After listening to thousands of young children and studying reports from other researchers around the world, Piaget realized children had their own thought processes and own special logic.
Piaget is credited with pioneering many fields of science: genetic epistemology “a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature methods, and limits of human knowledge”,cognitive theory, and developmental psychology.
Beginning at age 10 with his first scientific publications until his death at 85, Piaget’s career spanned 75 years. Many theorist and teachers today still agree with his theories, that children are not empty vessels to be filled with knowledge (as traditional pedagogical theory had it) but active builders of knowledge — little scientists who are constantly creating and testing their own theories of the world".
Contemporaries of Piaget include Maria Montessori, Paulo Freire, and John Dewey. While these individuals fought for changes in schools, Piaget's influence on learning has been deeper and more pervasive.