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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Toddlers and Projects: Some Definitions  9 Toddler Cognitive Development Jean Piaget pioneered our understanding of cognitive development. He saw toddlerhood as straddling the first two phases of development: sen- sorimotor and preoperational (1971b). Babies, he argued, do not keep pictures or representations of things in their minds. They are naturally inclined to actively explore their environments, observing the sensory and motor qualities of objects. This gradually leads them to build expectations of and associations about things. At around eight to ten months of age, children begin to remember objects that are no longer in view. They can represent objects as symbols in their minds. As children develop, they begin to explore their ideas about things, just as they explored the things themselves. Their represen- tations of objects grow into what Piaget termed schemes: categories that can be compared and combined and used to pursue sequences of actions. Piaget called this second stage of development the preoperational phase (1971b). Piaget stressed that it was the cumulative nature of development—one stage must be built on the next—that mattered, not just the ages when individual devel- opments occurred (Rogoff 2003). But virtually everyone agrees that ages one to three form the transition between the two stages. It is during toddlerhood that children progress from exploring and observing physical qualities to organizing schemes and testing out hypotheses. Where Piaget believed that cognitive development was driven by individual exploration, his contemporary, the Russian linguist Lev Vygotsky (1978), described children beginning in infancy as using the ideas, cues, and skills of others to move up through zones of development. The most important zone for Vygotsky is the zone of proximal development (ZPD), the one just above a child’s current level of mastery. Adults or other experts—older or more skilled peers—provide a scaffold for children to climb up into the ZPD. He agreed with Piaget that, at the same time, children elevate themselves through experimentation and ideas. Vygotsky also viewed development as fundamentally collaborative, arguing that children and experts meet in the ZPD. Children’s ideas (their hypotheses), while often false, need to mingle with the knowledge of experts. A dialogue of ideas, he argued, is necessary for children’s natural growth. Art is a natural forum for this collaborative model of learning; art promotes communication and flexible collaboration. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Photo 1.2