Piaget stated: "When in balance with each other, assimilation and accommodation generate mental schemas of the operative intelligence. When one function dominates over the other, they generate representations which belong to figurative intelligence."

What does this sentence mean? Can you give us an example of either assimilation and accommodation "balance with each other" or "one over the other"? 



Bob Esliger
11/24/2012 9:19am

Tough question! :) But I'll give it a try.

Through assimilation a child could see a cow, run it through their knowledge thus far in life and determine that it has all the characteristics of a dog - therefore it must be a dog.

However, through accommodation the child could then have determined that the above animal was a dog but then heard it moo.... then the child would have to fit the new information into the previous knowledge construct, create new and updated knowledge and determine that the animal is a "cow".

Therefore, if assimilation and accommodation are in "balance with each other" then the child's knowledge will develop in an accurate and concrete manner.

11/24/2012 11:04pm

I like your analogy :) In the past, it was explained to me like this: Assimilation is labeling a folder and putting the information into it. Accomodation is filing the folder. Balance would be the ability to file it under several different categories. E.g. a cow is an animal, a mammal, a herbivore, etc.

11/24/2012 11:55pm

Thanks, Bob and Chenoa. Honestly I didn't know the meaning of this sentence, so I threw it out for discussion. You really give good example and analogies.

I guess Piaget wanted to emphasize that these two functions cannot exist without another. He defined the figurative intelligence as our mental presentations or states, and the operative intelligence as the transformation between states. If one cannot balance the assimilation with the accommodation, he might either stuck with the old state (the dog in your example) or merely creates an isolated new concept (the cow) unrelated to the old one. Therefore he would lose the chance to construct the transformative knowledge between the states, and he would not know their commons or differences that might lead him to a higher level of conceptualization.

I’m not sure if my understanding is correct. You’re right "this is a tough question". I hope more people will come here to help clarify it.


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