Have you ever stopped to think about why some stories, facts, and images seem so easy to remember, while others seem impossible to hang on to? I wonder, has there ever been a time that you've stopped to consider the reason why some things seem easier to learn than others? While you may never have seriously thought about these things, a man named Jean Piaget is famous for having researched and pondered them. 

Piaget believed that children create knowledge through interactions with their environment. He and his partners thought that there are several different ways that children can process information, and all of it is related to information they already know, or experiences they have already had. For example, Piaget thought that one way children learn is by fitting new information that they receive into categories that already exists within their minds. This process is known as assimilation. However, when they are presented with new information that does not fit any category, they can create a new one for it; a process called accommodation. Piaget thought that children cannot be at rest until the new information has been processed in one of these two ways. He said that there is a certain balance that must be achieved in the mind of a child whenever all of the information has either been placed into an existing category, or a new category has been created for it, and that until this balance (known as Equilibrium) has been achieved, that the child will experience a state of Disequilibrium, which is the motivation for further learning. As the child pursues more knowledge in order to classify the information, Piaget says that they experience Equilibration, which is the process that lets students use assimilation and accommodation to achieve equilibrium. Piaget called this entire process the constructivist, or developmentalist, theory.

Although he uses a lot of big words to explain it, Piaget has an interesting thought about the way people, especially children process and learn new information. In the following cartoon, I have depicted an example of what assimilation might look like in the classroom. 

Have you ever experienced this process of categorizing information in order to learn something new? What kinds of things that you know now do you think you had to use assimilation or accommodation to learn?
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