Jean Piaget is one of the most renowned psychologists and researchers for his contributions to the psychology of development and learning. In his famous theory he proposed several stages of cognitive development through which all individuals go.

  • You can learn more about it in our article: “The 4 stages of Jean Piaget’s cognitive development”

Piaget’s best quotes

Throughout his life, Piaget gave several quotes that have remained for history . In this article we review them.

  • However, first you can review the most important aspects of his contributions in this post: “Jean Piaget’s Theory of Learning”

Now, let’s get started!

1. Scientific thought, then, is not momentary, it is not a static instance, but a process

As a scientist, Piaget contributed significantly to the study of cognitive development and intelligence.

2. When you teach a child something, you take away forever his chance to discover it for himself

Children are curious, and when curiosity leads them to investigate, the experiential learning that takes place is truly enriching.

3. Possibility… in the accommodation of sensorimotor intelligence itself, it plays the same role as in scientific discovery. It is only useful to the genius and its revelations remain meaningless to unskilled workers.

The sensory-motor period is one of the stages of Piaget’s theory, in which the greatest achievement is the notion of the permanent object.

4. On the one hand, there are individual actions, such as pulling, pushing, touching, rubbing. These are those individual actions that result most of the time in the abstraction of objects

A great phrase of Piaget’s, the abstraction is previous to the instrument of generalization and the child learns with the manipulation of objects. Piaget always thought that human beings are active in learning.

5. Scientific knowledge is in constant evolution; it finds itself changed from one day to the next

Scientific thought is not static, it is constantly developing.

6. Look, I have no opinion on pedagogy. The problem of education interests me greatly, because it is my impression that there is much to reform and transform, but I think that the role of the psychologist consists above all in providing facts that pedagogy can use, and not in putting himself in its place to give advice

Pedagogy can benefit greatly from psychology.

7. The essential functions of the mind consist in understanding and in invention, that is, in the construction of structures by structuring reality

Creativity plays an important role in learning.

8. Each acquisition of accommodation becomes material for assimilation, but assimilation always resists new accommodation.

Assimilation is one of the most important concepts revolving around the Piagetian theory.

9. Knowledge is, therefore, a system of transformations that become progressively adequate

Learning is cumulative and develops, as Piaget explains.

10. Our problem, from the point of view of psychology and from the point of view of genetic epistemology, is to explain how the transition is made from a lower level of knowledge to a level that seems to be higher

As in the previous point, a quote on cumulative learning.

11. I have always hated any deviation from reality, an attitude that I relate to my mother’s poor mental health

A reflection carried out by Piaget, in which it is possible to appreciate a certain touch of irony.

12. What we see changes what we know. What we know changes what we see

What we see determines our thinking, but our thinking also determines how we interpret what we see

13. The main objective of education in schools should be the creation of men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discovering, who can be critical, verify and not accept, everything that is offered to them

Piaget, in clear defence of creativity and active learning.

14. I couldn’t think without writing

A great quote that invites reflection

15. What genetic epistemology proposes is to discover the roots of the different varieties of knowledge, from their elementary forms, following the following levels, also including scientific knowledge

Piaget, making clear reference to genetic epistemology.

16. If you want to be creative, stay partly like a child, with the creativity and inventiveness that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society

Children have a curious mentality in which they do not judge but are open to constant learning . Something that many adults should learn

17. Parent-child relationships are certainly not just about restraint. There is spontaneous mutual affection, which ranges from the first asking the child for acts of generosity and even sacrifice, to very touching manifestations that are in no way prescribed. And here, no doubt, is the starting point for the morality of good that we shall see developing alongside the morality of right or duty, and which in some persons replaces completely

Parents are the most important educational agents, as they educate their children in such important matters as morals and values.

18. Good pedagogy must confront the child with situations in which he experiences in the broadest sense of the word: trying things to see what happens, handling objects, handling symbols, asking questions, seeking his own answers, reconciling what he finds on one occasion with what he finds on another by comparing his achievements with those of other children

Children are active learners, explorers at their best.

19. If an individual is intellectually passive, he will not achieve moral freedom

Learners must be explorers who build their own cognitive development.

20. In other words, knowledge of the outside world begins with immediate use of things, while knowledge of oneself is stopped by this purely practical and utilitarian contact

Experiential learning is a very powerful form of learning. More than rote learning.

21. Education, for most people, means trying to make the child look like the typical adult in their society… But for me, education means making creators… You have to make the inventors, innovators, non-conformists

Culture tries to shape our thoughts, our motivations and even our expectations. This can be seen in an educational system that does not favour creativity at all. Fortunately, there are many psychologists and pedagogues who are trying to change this way of working.

22. Intelligence is what you use when you don’t know what to do

Problems and attempts to solve them stimulate our creativity and intelligence.

23. What role would books and manuals play in this school then? The ideal school would not have compulsory textbooks for the students, but only reference works that would be freely used… the only indispensable textbooks are those used by the teacher.

Piaget referring to what their ideal school would be like, the one that would benefit the students’ learning.

24. To express the same idea in another way, I believe that human knowledge is essentially active

Once again, this psychologist’s vision is clear. We humans build our own learning.

25. Logic and mathematics are nothing more than specialized linguistic structures

Language structures are the basis of our knowledge, says Piaget.

26. It is with children that we have the best opportunity to study the development of logical knowledge, mathematical knowledge, physical knowledge, among other things

The children were the participants in Piaget’s studies.

27. To understand is to invent

If we don’t understand something, we won’t be able to go further and be creative.

28. Children have a real understanding of what they only invent for themselves, and every time we try to teach them something too fast, we prevent them from reinventing themselves

We must not impose learning, otherwise we will provoke memorization instead of understanding. Learning must be built by us.

29. Reflective abstraction is not based on individual actions, but on coordinated actions

Each stage of learning has its moment, according to Piaget

30. The second objective of education is to form minds that can be critical, that can verify and not accept everything that is offered to them. The great danger today is slogans, collective opinions, trends already made of thought. We have to be able to oppose individually, to criticize, to distinguish between what is right and what is not

Piaget was always a proponent of critical thinking.

31. The main objective of education is to create people capable of doing new things, and not simply repeat what other generations did

People should be able to actively pursue their cognitive development

32. Knowledge cannot be a copy, since it is always a relationship between subject and object

Piaget is one of the greatest exponents of constructionism , and this quote makes it clear.

33. This does not mean that the logic is strong enough to support the total construction of human knowledge

Another clear reference to the constructivist theory, where Piaget was one of the most representative figures.

34. Knowing reality implies building systems in continuous transformation that correspond, more or less, to reality

Knowledge, we build it to make it our reality.

35. From then on, the universe is constructed in a set of permanent objects connected by causal relationships that are independent of the subject and are placed in the subject’s time and space

The notion of the permanent object is one of the great achievements of the sensorimotor phrase.

36. A learned truth is only half a learned truth, while the whole truth must be conquered, reconstructed or rediscovered by the student himself

A quote that speaks of the truth and encourages free interpretation.

37. Everything a child is taught is prevented from being invented or discovered

The adult can provide the child with tools to learn, but it is the child who builds it.

38. Intelligence, the most plastic and at the same time the most permanent structural balance of behavior, is essentially a system of vital operations

There is a curious paradox between the stability of intelligence and its ability to adapt to the environment.

39. Any psychological explanation, sooner or later, ends up resting on logic or biology

Mental processes do not exist outside of the biological ones outside of a logical analysis of their content.

40. To develop human intelligence it is essential to know mathematical logic

These dimensions of knowledge are an essential part of the intellect, according to Piaget.

41. We must start from this dual character of intelligence as something biological and logical at the same time

The intellect exists thanks to the activity of the nerve cells, but also thanks to the rules of logic.

42.In order to explain the psychological phenomenon well, it is necessary to study its line of formation.

What happens in the human mind is the result of constant evolution and maturation .

43.There are many similarities between the development of knowledge in a child, on the one hand, and the development of knowledge in the scientific world on the other

Piaget draws a comparison between the two ways of extracting knowledge.

44. The fundamental idea of my theory is almost always misunderstood

This author and researcher warns of the need to pay attention to the nuances of his work.

45. Human knowledge is always an assimilation or an interpretation

Piaget emphasizes the importance of these learning mechanisms.

46. Structure is the source of deductive capacity

The deduction is based on the formal rules .

47. If knowledge were innate then it would be present in babies and other animals

A sentence about the possibility that there are principles of knowing that they exist in an innate way.

48.Problems are solved according to different levels of knowledge

Each stage of cognitive development offers different solutions.

49. It is necessary to study how reaching new knowledge opens the mind to new possibilities

Learning implies making qualitative leaps in our level of knowledge .

50. The development of intelligence is a sequence of deductive operations

Piaget believed in the importance of deductive reasoning as an engine of learning.

51.The first clear indication in the development of knowledge is the constant creativity

Lateral thinking is a fundamental aspect of intelligence.

52. Operations are transformations that are reversible

In the mind games that make up learning, the operations are always reversible.

53.I am a constructivist because I constantly build or help to build knowledge

A sentence about Piaget’s philosophical foundations.

54.Mathematics is in constant construction, and we can see this even in the day-to-day life of a child

The development of mathematical ability is evolving.

55.A child never draws what he sees, he draws his interpretation of it

Piaget questions the idea of portraying in an objective manner.