Publication 5453

Ackermann E. K. (1996) Perspective-taking and object construction: Two keys to learning. In: Kafai J. & Resnick M. (eds.) Constructionism in practice: Designing, thinking, and learning in a digital world. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah NJ: 25–37.
Piaget defines intelligence as adaptation, or the ability to maintain a balance between stability and change, or, in his own words, between assimilation and accommodation. When people assimilate the world to their current knowledge, they impose their order upon things. This momentary closure is useful to build “invariants” that lend existence to the world, independent of immediate interaction. In accommodation, people become one with the object of attention. This may lead to momentary loss of control, since fusion loosens boundaries, but allows for change. I choose the domain of perspective-taking to illustrate how this alternation between assimilation and accommodation punctuate individuals’ interactions with the world. I show that the ability to move away from one’s own standpoint, and to take on another person’s view, requires the construction of cognitive invariants: a recasting of the world’s stabilities that transcends any given viewpoint. I conclude that separation is a necessary step toward the construction of a deeper understanding, and that adopting a “god’s eyes view” is by no means contrary to situating one’s one stance in the world.
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