JEAN PIAGET: PSYCHOLOGIST, EDUCATOR, AND GENETIC EPISTEMOLOGIST
JEAN PIAGET, the renowned student of human growth, himself experienced a most unusual personal and scientific development. A child prodigy who published his first research paper at age eleven, Piaget realized a scientific career of unsurpassed fecundity. He risked a number of sharp career shifts, turning to psychology only after having received his doctorate in biology, and later, in middle age, training himself in logic and physics. Internationally honored as a young man for his pathbreaking studies of children (he received an honorary doctorate during Harvard's tercentenary while still in his thirties), he was nevertheless for many years regarded as an anachronism and only recently regained a dominant position in the social sciences. Indeed, unlike most scientists whose seminal contributions occur early, Piaget made some of his most important discoveries in the later decades of his life and continued his feverish pace until his death in 1980 at the age of eightyfour. By his own example, this proud Swiss confirmed his country's capacity to spawn creative scientists as well as competent clockmakers.
Even within the field of psychology, Piaget was a maverick. Where most researchers favor large populations of subjects and powerful statis-