What Don't I Want in a Leader back

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Piaget and Cognitive Development (continued)

Much of the work of Kegan and other developmentalists is based on the research of Jean Piaget. Piaget performed a famous experiment in cognitive development in which he presented a small child with two glass beakers, one of which was tall and thin and the other short and squat, but which had exactly the same capacity. Piaget poured all of the liquid from one full beaker into the other beaker, filling it completely. He then asked the child to pick which of the two beakers held more liquid, and the child chose the tall and thin beaker, because it "looked bigger."

Given many repetitions of Piaget's experiment, the result was almost invariably the same. I will describe some of the insights I have gained from observations in my home laboratory. Rather than citing any particular daughter by name ("Dad, are you determined to humiliate me?"), I have created an amalgamated female offspring who will hereafter be referred to as "my daughter". Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is, like, totally a coincidence.]

When my daughter was very young, there was a cookie jar in our kitchen that contained a seemingly endless supply of large oatmeal cookies. At a certain point in my daughter's cognitive development, she would ask me for a cookie from the jar. Having studied Piaget during my teacher training in college, I never tired of performing my own cognitive experiments. The resulting scenario was always the same: my daughter would ask me for a cookie; I would give her a cookie; she would beg that I give her two cookies; before her eyes I would break the one cookie into two pieces; she would take the two halves of the one cookie and leave, happily convinced that she had received two cookies.