All of us have different attitudes and way of thinking towards a specific topic, person and a situation. We all have different perception towards any other person, situation and others’ behaviour. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you dont have the mental layout of the world or any other object? It means we would not be able to use our previously gained knowledge for our future planning.
Schemas are the building blocks of knowledge, which is explained by Piaget’s (1936) theory of cognitive development. He explains how a child constructs a mental model of the world. He disagreed with the idea that intelligence was a fixed trait and it all depends upon the past experiences that lead to future plans. Schemas are the basic building blocks of such cognitive models and enable us to form a mental representation of the world. Piaget defined a schema as: “a cohesive, repeatable action sequence possessing component actions that are tightly interconnected and governed by a core meaning.”
A schema is a preconceived idea that we use to interpret the new information. We have schemas about people, place, object, food and almost about everything around us. Now let’s study some everyday examples of schemas.
1. Attending any party
Before going to a party, say a birthday party, we have a preconceived idea about what is going to happen at that party which includes cake, food, and dance. We dont know what exactly is going to happen. But we form preconceived schemas about the party that we had gained through past experiences.
For example, we consider the personality of a priest as an introvert- one who is calm speaks quietly and believes in peace. Yet this is not necessary that there is a compulsion of being introverted for a priest. Instead, it is the schema which defines our expectations from the priest. Same goes with the personality trait of a teacher or an actor.
3. Religious Views
Religious views are also an example of schemas. Human is the social animal, and have to live according to the social norms. For instance, in Hindu religion, eating beef is considered wrong and against the religious values. Whenever we see any Hindu person having beef, we immediately possess negativity towards that person, because your interpretation of right and wrong would be done according to your schema.
4. In Education
Whenever we are about to start the new topic, teachers often assess our previous knowledge about that topic, or they activate the prior knowledge of the student about that topic. For instance, our school has planned an educational visit to a water treatment plant. The students are provided with prior knowledge about the water treatment plant so that they could easily understand the phenomenon while visiting the plant.
5. Visiting Hospitals
Whenever a child visits a doctor, he already has perceived the image of a doctor with the syringe in his end through his previous experiences or what he/she might have watched on the T.V. A child only knew that the doctor would inject medicine into him, that will cause pain. So, the child often got scared while visiting a hospital.