A few weeks ago, I was privileged to attend the 47th Jean Piaget Society (JPS) Conference held in San Francisco. This annual conference brings together an intriguingly diverse group of individuals interested in the psychologist Jean Piaget and his prolific work in the area of constructivism and childhood cognitive development. At this conference, you can talk to individuals from around the world who are finishing up their PhDs in psychology, dedicated Piaget historians, science and mathematics educators, and even those who have worked closely with Jean Piaget himself in the distant past and are now considered giants in the field of education. The goal of the conference is to keep Jean Piaget’s work in constructivism alive and relevant for the future. As Piaget was once credited as saying, “Don’t build me a church to constructivism, but instead come together sharing your research from different fields to help make constructivism as a learning theory stronger.” For almost five decades, this group has done just that, annually gathering as individuals of different interests and fields of study to dedicate their discussions around the grounded theories of Jean Piaget.
This year’s JPS conference theme was, interestingly enough, based around technologies and human development. Jean Piaget passed away in 1980, long before computers or global information access was as ubiquitous and evasive as it is today. I am sure that as Jean Piaget was developing his cognitive development theories he couldn’t have imagined the change technology would bring about from then to now. Yet I doubt that anyone would argue that, since the 1980’s and the passing of Piaget, technology and digital media in particular, has certainly continued to have a significant impact on transforming culture and the nature of human development.
In that light, it was fascinating to discuss the relationship of constructivism and human development in regard to technological change. It was an impactful few days for me, the repercussions of which I am still unpacking. It is my hope to share some of the thoughts and ideas I heard and struggled with at the 47th Jean Piaget Society Conference over the coming months as an effort to keep the conversation about the important topic of Jean Piaget’s constructivism alive.