Die invloed van die skool op konkreet–operasionele en formeel–operasionele denke
Monteith, Jan Lodewikus de Klerk
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The aim of this study was to determine the influence of theschool on the level of thought of the child. The influence of the school was defined as the number of completed years of schooling. Two methods of enquiry were used to investigate the influence of schooling on the level of thought the pupils have reached. A study of the literature was made to give an outline of different views of cognitive development, the relative influence of heredity and environment on cognitive development, the influence of certain environmental factors on cognitive development, of black education in South Africa and of the black child as a culturally deprived child. The empirical method was used to test the validity of some hypotheses which were formulated after a discussion of the influence of certain environmental factors on cognitive development. The models of Gagné, Bruner and Piaget were discussed with emphasis on the explanations they offer for cognitive development. The implications of these models for this study were abstracted. It was concluded that they all emphasize the value of schooling for cognitive development. The study was based on Piaget's model of cognitive development. According to Piaget the school must be concerned with the development of logical thinking. To develop the ability of logical thinking the child progresses through different stages of cognitive development by means of the processes of organization and adaptation. Cognitive development is influenced by organic growth, experience, social interaction and equilibration. These factors can be classified as factors of heredity (organic growth) and factors of the environment (experience, social interaction and equilibration). As the school is an environmental factor it was necessary to discuss the influence of the environment on cognitive development against the background of the influence of heredity on cognitive development. Nothing can be done to alter the organic structure of the child, but much can be done to manipulate the environment to influence the cognitive development of the child. It is therefore of the utmost importance that one should take notice of how environmental factors influence cognitive development. Accordingly a study was made of the chief environmental factors which influence cognitive development. The influence of culture, socio-economic status, some family characteristics and of the school on cognitive development, was discussed. The influence of culture, socio-economic status and some family characteristics on cognitive development was discussed to form a framework against which the influence of the school on cognitive development could be evaluated. After having studied the influence of these different factors on cognitive development the conclusion was reached that schooling, as an agent for cognitive stimulation and the resultant cognitive development, is of utmost importance the more primitive the culture of the child, the lower his socio-economic status, the bigger the family and the lower the order of birth of the child. The school must provide the cognitive stimulation which neither the culture nor the home can give the child. As conservation forms an important part of Piaget's view of cognitive development, special attention was paid to the influence of schooling on conservation. Some researchers have reported that conservation is not influenced by schooling, as unschooled children were found to be capable of conservation of volume. It was found that the child can develop his ability to conserve through his daily experiences without the aid of schooling. Although schooling is not of the utmost importance for the development of the ability to conserve, schooling is important for the development of ability to classify, combinatorial thinking, language development and intellectual (or cognitive) development. As the study was undertaken in black schools a brief outline of the development of black education in South Africa was given. Recent developments in black education were discussed with special reference to factors in black education which may have a negative influence on cognitive development. These factors are the teacher-pupil ratio (1:48), the system of double sessions, no compulsory education, the late age of admission (seven years), the heterogeneous age distribution in classes, not all the pupils receiving mother tongue instruction, a high percentage of drop-outs in the primary school and poorly qualified teachers. Positive factors are: syllabi which are of the same standard as syllabi used in white schools, teachers showing a keen interest to better their qualifications, the free issuing of textbooks and an increase in enrollment. After a description of and discussion of the characteristics of the culturally deprived child, with special reference to the factors in the environment which have a negative influence on cognitive development, some criteria were isolated for cultural deprivation. These criteria are: poverty, overcrowded houses, a lack of cognitive stimulation, and undeveloped and undifferentiated perceptual abilities. If the black child is evaluated against these criteria, only one conclusion can be reached and that is that the black child is a culturally deprived child. As a culturally deprived child he is dearly in need of schooling to provide the opportunities for cognitive development which his environment cannot provide. The discussion of the influence of certain environmental factors on cognitive development, lead to the following general hypothesis: there is a relationship between certain environmental factors and the level of cognitive development of the child. The relationship between the number of years of schooling and cognitive development was of special interest. To test the validity of this hypothesis experiments involving the following were conducted: The pupils of two types of primary schools, community schools and farm schools, formed the population for this study. The community schools were all located in the black township of Potchefstroom while the schools were all located in the district of Potchefstroom. Six hundred and fifty black pupils from the community schools were chosen by means of randomized stratified cluster sampling. Two classes of each standard (substandard A to standard 4) were included in the sample. Of these 650 pupils who were all tested, a smaller sample of 308 pupils were randomly chosen. The test results of these 308 pupils, together with the test results of 181 pupils from farm schools were analysed by means of multiple regression analysis. The level of thought or cognitive development of each pupil was determined by means of a group test measuring the level of thought attained. This test was developed by the author and was based on piagetian-type questions. The test was administered in the mother tongue of the pupils (Tswana). A former black schoolmaster was trained by the author to apply the tests. As he was unfamiliar with the piagetian or clinical method of testing and as most of the pupils in sub-standards A and B could not write or express their thoughts through writing, only multiple choice questions were included in the test. Answers or responses were marked with crosses in the appropriate squares. The raw scores obtained in this test were used in the testing of the validity of the different hypotheses which were set. As an IQ test for students at this level (substandard A to standard 4) was not available, the Scholastic Aptitude Test for Pupils in Standards 2 and 3 (the SATB) was used. Apart from giving a measure of the scholastic aptitudes of pupils, the SATB also gives an indication of a pupil's general intellectual ability. Two scores were obtained from this test: a raw score and a standard score (Z-score) which were calculated for each standard(l to 4) from the raw scores to control the influence of schooling on the development of aptitude. The validity and reliability of each of the measuring instruments were discussed and it was found that they were valid and reliable in all cases. A questionnaire was set to get an indication of the level of socio-economic status (SES) of each pupil. Information regarding age, sex, type of school (town or farm school) and school standard (from which years of schooling were calculated) were obtained from the questionnaire. The following factors (independent variables) were included in the basic set of independent variables: Z-score, SES, sex, age, years of schooling and type of school. As the SATB can only be used for pupils in standard one to four and as pupils from sub standards A and B were also included in the sample, the analyses had to be made for two groups, group 1 and group 2. The pupils were divided into two groups on the basis of the number of independent variables which were applicable to them. The following independent variables were applicable to group 1 (standards 1 to 4). Z-score, sex, age, years of schooling, SES and type of school. All these independent variables except Z-score were applicable to group Z (substandard A to standard 4). Multiple regression analysis was used to test the data. The primary aim of this investigation was to determine the influence of the school on the level of thought of the child. In order to determine the influence of the school on the level of thought, the influence of all the independent variables in the basic set of independent variables on level of thought was calculated. To determine the relative influence of years of schooling on level of thought Z-score, SES, sex, age and type of school were used as control variables after which their relative influence on the level of thought was determined by means of a step-wise analysis of regression. By determining the relative influence of years of schooling, Z-score, SES, age, sex and type of school on level of thought, it was possible to compare their relative influence on level of thought. To determine the influence of some family characteristics (such as the size of the family, number of children in the family and order of birth) on level of thought, SES as an independent variable, was replaced by these factors together with educational level of the parents, occupation of the parents, aspiration level and economic circumstances. The above-mentioned analyses, with level of thought as dependent variable, were repeated, with conservation, as dependent variable instead of level of thought. The influence of schooling on conservation is of special importance. Piaget proposes that an inability to conserve substance, weight or volume, is an indication of a pre-Iogical level of thought. According to Piaget's view of the invariable order of the different stages of cognitive development, the child must first master the ability to conserve before he can reach the level of formal operational thought. The relative influence of years of schooling and of level of thought on the SATB (raw score) and Z-score were also determined. An analysis of the results indicated that Z-score years of schooling, age and sex made a significant contribution to level of thought and ability to conserve. Socio-economic status had no influence on level of thought or on ability to conserve. Of the family characteristics only family size and order of birth had any influence on the ability to conserve while level of thought was not influenced by any of these factors. It seemed that of the various factors (Z-score, SES, age, sex and years of schooling), years of schooling contributed the most to variance in both level of thought and ability to conserve. When the influence of years of schooling was controlled, Z-score, sex, and age had only a small influence on level of thought and ability to conserve. It could not be determined whether SES had any influence on either level of thought or the ability to conserve. It could not be determined with certainty whether family traits such as size of family, number of children in the family and order of birth had any influence on level of thought and the ability to conserve. The conclusion was reached that the environment and home of the black child (as a culturally deprived child) are not capable of providing the necessary cognitive stimulation for the child. The child therefore dependent on the school for this stimulation. In short, it can be said that the level of thought and the ability to conserve are influenced by the number of years of schooling. As it had been determined in this investigation that years of schooling had a positive influence on ability to conserve. the conclusion was reached that schooled children would reach the level of formal operational thought at an earlier age than unschooled children. As a result of these findings the following proposals were made: • As the home and environment of the black child do not provide sufficient stimulation for cognitive development serious thought should be given to lower the age of admission to the school as soon as possible in order to provide the child with an opportunity to share and benefit from the opportunities the school provide. • As it has been found that the school is one of the most important factors that influence cognitive development, it is important that every child should have the opportunity to attend school. Education should therefore be made compulsory as soon as possible.
- Education