Jean Piaget brought an innovative vision in regard to the way knowledge is built, a constructive vision based on interaction.
He starts from the premise that in the learning process the student is surrounded by different objects, and from this interaction he starts building his knowledge. He does this through a process of adaptation – a process through which the student adapts to his environment.
When the object is in opposition, it creates a conflict that leads to a loss of equilibrium of his structures or schemas of previous knowledge; then, the student tries to assimilate or adapt the new knowledge to his previous structures, thus regaining the state of equilibrium.
When the student regains his equilibrium, this is not the same equilibrium he had before, but he has reached a new, higher level. Therefore, the student moves from an inferior level of knowledge, to a superior one. But for real learning to take place, he needs to reach a certain level of development.
It is important to mention that Piaget has formulated a general theory based on the processes of knowledge acquisition, but he did not apply this theory specifically to the processes of acquisition of reading and writing. Emilia Ferreiro did exactly this, starting from the theory of Piaget.
According to Guillermo García, Emilia Ferreiro encountered several problems when trying to apply this theory to the teaching of the written language:
1) Readiness: This is an essential aspect when it comes to learning reading and writing, and it is seen as a cognitive process that implies a series of other neuro-psychological and motor components.
2) The Structuralist line: When trying to apply the principles of the Piagetian psychogenetic theory to the field of the written language, the fact that this theory dealt with a physical-mathematical aspect was partially ignored, and not all the aspects of teaching written language were taken into account.
3) Behaviorism: It claimed that learning can be controlled from the outside; this theory ignores the students’ ability to learn independently.
Ferreiro managed to overcome all these obstacles.
“The psycho-genetic theory assumes that the child has an innate predisposition for learning to read and write; it also considers that the child lives in a literate world so, he builds his own ideas about it and formulates various hypotheses about the writing system.”
Emilia Ferreiro and her research team found that there are different stages in the acquisition of the writing system, and these stages do not correspond to a fixed age, but they vary from child to child.
In conclusion, we can say that this line of research considers that the student is the creator of his own knowledge, through interaction with his own environment.