Is development the result of genetics or the result of the love, guidance and the upbringing one receives? That is a very interesting and personal question. In reviewing Table 4.1 in the textbook regarding where the main developmental theories stand on the six themes in development, it appears that most of the theorists involved believe that both nature and nurture have an impact on the development of the child (Child Development: A Thematic Approach (3rd. ed.) (Bukato, Daehler, 1998, p.29). The Ethological theme reports that although behavior is biologically based the environment has an impact and influences behavior patterns.
Most of the other themes such as the Learning Theory and the Socioculture Theory are based on nurture or environmental experiences with some biological experiences.
An article on the Internet titled Quotations about Nature, Nurture,
and Nature via Nurture (1998), reports that there are in fact three ‘nature vs. nurture’ issues rather than just one. They concern what is innate, what is inherited, and what is important? What is innate to the species, in this case, Homosapiens? Features of human behavior and experience arise from the genes that are shared and without most of which a human child is unlikely to be born with? What is inherited? We can look at genetically similar or even identical twins that grow up in different environments, thus allowing us to learn whether environmental differences, between families, contribute to final observable differences in behavior and personality.
Not all physical factors appear to be genetically inherited. For example, the best-known example of this is the case of eye colors in Homosapiens; two brown-eyed parents can have a blue-eyed child if each of them carries the recessive gene for blue eyes as well as the dominant gene for brown eyes. Finally, what is important? With genetic cloning a fact, not a possibility, a society has to determine what is important to them in today’s culture. Discussion such as “Is it more important to have smart or good-looking children?” Or, “As a society will we allow genetic defects such as dwarfism?” There is much controversy regarding this developing topic and I am sure much more to come. The previously cited article reports that most current psychologists admit that it is impossible to prove nature vs. nurture outcomes because there are such complex interactions that effect all development processes in a child.
Growing up within the larger scheme of things is the concept of the Socioculture theme. This theory indicates that the community one grows up in has a great impact on what experiences, beliefs and values they will have. Every society changes over time. Some change rapidly; others seem to stay virtually unchanged for generations. But, however slowly, change does occur. Communication and language are two important aspects that play major roles in the socioculture development. Functions of communication such as, actions, words, behaviors, settings, topics and/or events all envelope the different forms and styles of communication that members of the group or culture utilize. Factors such as proximity, the space people need or use for themselves within a community, and the poverty cycle are very important in the development of an individual and a culture. Children are biologically predisposed to develop language and the environment triggers rather than serves as a stage of development. A child learns most and is most impressionable during the first five years of his life. Therefore, a child in poverty is exposed to his environment, and that is what they know, even before entering into the educational system. This has a lot to do with the continuation of the poverty cycle.
An example that I am familiar with at work is with families involved with Child Protective Services (CPS) and the subject of discipline or communicating through the use of corporal punishment. In some cultures spanking is perfectly acceptable. When a person is CPS involved because of neglect due to addiction, it is not conducive to the goal of reunification to hit or spank child. Teaching CPS participants can be challenging because it is sometimes very difficult for them to understand different concepts when corporal punishment is what their culture and society has deemed the norm.
A child plays an active role in his or her development by the way he responds to being taught. In each of the theories described in the textbook it is apparent that the child plays an active role. Even in the learning theory where the child is not active in behavior analysis but engages the environment to determine what is learned in social cognitive theory (Child Development: A Thematic Approach (3rd. ed.) (Bukato, Daehler, 1998, p.33). In contextual theories the child is biologically equipped to deal with the environment yet actively engaged with the environment. The relationship between the biological and environment are always influencing each other. I am inclined to favor Piagot’s theory that a child’s knowledge is constructed; that the child is always thinking therefore, always active in its development.
Is development continuous or discontinuous? Continuous is flowing and discontinuous is stages. When children get better with each task so that it becomes natural for them to move on to the next task that is continuous development. A child is going to go through puberty; that would be identified as a stage. The textbook shows that the learning, information processing, socioculture and ethological theories are all continuous (Child Development: A Thematic Approach (3rd. ed.) (Bukato, Daehler, 1998, p.33). The smooth transitions in the Learning theory is when a child enters school or is able now able to complete algebraic problems. In the Psychosocial theory, the stages are set but individuals can go through the stages in their own pace. Piagetian theory describes four stages as Sensory Motor Period, Preoperational Period, Period of Concrete Operations and Period of Formal Operations. Each stage is set and although can be individualized (time frame), it is not individual as to expectations of what will happen. It is important for parents to know what stages a child may go through so they may be sure the expectations they have for their child at a given age are realistic.
In reviewing the chart it appears that most theories report that individual differences are not playing a major role in the theories. Even in the socioculture theory it reports that although unique events contribute to how the individual behaves there are many other factors influencing the child’s development. In Erikson theory where he describes set events and outcomes on Table 1.3 in the textbook (Child Development: A Thematic Approach (3rd. ed.) (Bukato, Daehler, 1998, p.33), these stages are common to every individual in every culture. He reports that at in each of his eight stages, individuals must adapt to the demands of their own society and culture that are placed on them.
Child development is the study of all aspects of human growth and change. It is an interdisciplinary, scientific, and applied field of study. Researchers often divide the subject of development into three broad domains, physical, cognitive, and emotional and social. Social-moral includes interpersonal and intrapersonal goals. Cognitive includes logical-mathematical, physical, and conventional knowledge including symbolic and language development. Physical includes motor skills, health, and safety. All have a direct impact on all areas of child development. There is considerable current debate concerning what society know about these domains as well as how and when they develop.
There are many areas in which a child me be slow at developing which would increase the chances that it would effect any of the other domains. I have always believed that what a child learns results in what they think and feel. In the learning theory, it is apparent that situations have much to do with learning ability. For example if a child is overweight, it will definitely affect their social and emotional development. They may not want to risk embarrassment by participating in groups, therefore, not socializing as often as another child that did not have this problem. On an emotional level this would lower self-esteem and decrease self worth. On a learning level they may become quiet or shy and decrease their chances of speaking up in class, possibly decreasing the chances for intellectual learning.
In conclusion, it appears that components of each theme influence how we view, parent and educate our children. Many theories, especially modern ones, take a balanced point of view and recognize the merits of all sides of these issues. Each theme discussed brings it own perspective on children and how they develop. In recent years, the field of child development has become increasingly concerned with applying its knowledge to the solution of pressing social problems faced by children and adolescents. Public policy, laws, and government programs designed to improve current conditions are essential for protecting children’s development as well as ongoing research in this area.
Author Unknown, (1998) Child Development Institute Web Page. Stages of Intellectual Development in Children and Teenagers. Pieget’s Stages of Cognitive Development Retrieved July 7, 2000 from the WWW Available: http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/development/piaget.shtml.
Brand, Chris. (1999) Personality, Biology & Society. Quotes V Quotations about NATURE, NURTURE, and NATURE via NURTURE. Retrieved July 8, 2000 from the WWW Available http://www.cycad.com/cgi-bin/Brand/quotes/q05.html?nochoice=y
Bukatko, D., & Daehler, M.W., (1998). Child Development: A Thematic Approach (3rd ed.). Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company
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