Forrest Gump And The Lessons Learned

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Childlike Forrest Gump has never thought of himself as “mentally handicap”, he lives a life far from limited all thanks to his reassuring mother. Regardless if he’s dominating on the field as a college football star, fighting the war in Vietnam or captaining a shrimp boat, Forrest motivates people with his positivity. But one person Forrest cares about most may be the most difficult to save his childhood crush, the sweet but troubled Jenny. Gump is a young man who is simple minded and lives his life by a set of values his mother instilled in him. Since very early in his childhood Forrest has been classified as “slow” or “stupid” and that doesn’t change leading into adulthood. Despite this, he can graduate from college, serve in the military, and own a million-dollar company. All Although Forrest has many setbacks for his lack of personality, autism, and mental disability. He lives a successful life as a national hero, millionaire, and father. Piaget developed 4 stages of cognitive development, which starts at birth and advanced throughout the years into adulthood. The starts with eight-year old Forrest, because of his low IQ, we see him progress through the final 3 stages, preoperational, concrete, and formal. 

The preoperational stage established by Piaget, typically age 2 through 7 is the stage where a child learns language but doesn’t fully know how to use logic and interpret what is said. In the movie when Forrest’s best friend Bubba is shot, Bubba asks, “why’d this happen Forrest?” to which he replies, “cause you got shot” His response was something you’d expect from a 5-year-old. Forrest’s egocentric way of thinking increases from childhood to adulthood. Egocentrism is when you perceive the world from your own point of view, no one else’s. This is displayed when he’s speaking with people on the bench. He begins each story as if each person understands who and what he’s talking about. In Forrest and Lt. Dan’s conversation, he displays egocentrism. Lt. Dan asks him if he knows what it’s like to not be able to use his legs, Forrest replies “yes sir I do.” He wasn’t exhibiting empathy; He isn’t able to think outside of himself because it actually has to do with him. 

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The concrete operational stage is approximately ages 7 to 11 years old. It’s characterized by the development of logical thought. Forrest displays this stage the most during his time in the military. He’s able to follow commands, and orders, and he outshines the others at assembling and disassembling weapons. Also, when he’s playing college football. He’s an outstanding runner and that’s why he was recruited to the team but when it comes to his sense of direction as to where to run, he need’s assisting. In another conversation with Lt. Dan he’s asked if he’s found Jesus yet, and he answers “I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him” The formal operational stage is the fourth and final stage in Piaget’s theory. It begins at age 12 and last into adulthood. At this phase in development, thinking becomes a lot more advanced. You begin to use logical thinking with abstract concepts and use logic to come up with innovative solutions to problems. Throughout the movie Forrest speaks about how his mother always describe life like a box of chocolates, never knowing what you’re going to get. This is one metaphor he has a clear understanding with because he uses it in the right context. He also uses the metaphor like “peas and carrots” to describe their longtime friendship. 

By the end of the movie, Forrest discovers he has a son. Forrest is a good father; he puts sons needs before his own which is a prime example of him thinking abstractly. His overall role of being a parent changes how he thinks. This is a major development change for Forrest All in all, when applying Piaget’s theory of development onto Forrest life, one can see that he doesn’t attain each stage in total at different points in his life, his way of thinking does develop overtime but not at the average rate. How Forrest thinks is different from a typical person. He understands people and situations through metaphors, and lessons instilled by his mother. He uses what we might perceive as a weakness, as his strength. He learns to adapt to his unusual way of development and works with it, not against it.  

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