Motivation and Self Beliefs

Case Study #1

            In this case Noah appears to be between the preoperational and concrete stages. The preoperational stage is defined by a child’s apply new knowledge of language so that symbols represent objects. In addition, this stage is defined by the inability to conceptualize time and this leads children to the belief that others view events and ideas in the same way that they do. Finally, the preoperational stage takes into account the wild imaginations of children and their desire to fit all things into their idea of what they should be. The concrete stage of development is defined by an increasing ability for a child to accommodate. Children begin to think more abstractly in this stage where before they had to manipulate an object in order to understand it. This stage also marks the ability to being thinking rationally.

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            Noah is between the two stages. He displays characteristics of the preoperational stage when conversing with his teacher about how to tie his shoes. When she sings the song about the bunny, Noah remembers a song about a bunny that his mother sings to him and is unwilling to adjust to the idea that there may be more than one bunny song. This shows that Noah is still at the point in his development where he thinks others’ view of the world is the same as his (egocentrism). In addition, he must visually and physically manipulate his shoelaces in order to understand what the song is singing. He isn’t able to simply listen to the song and then tie his shoes – he must tie his shoes while he is listening to the song.

            At the same time, Noah displays some characteristics of the concrete stage as well. When he is amazed that his teacher is both a mommy and a teacher he is able to think abstractly when his teacher has him realize that his daddy is both a daddy and a fireman. Had Noah still been only in the preoperational stage this concept would have been very difficult for him to grasp but with his emerging ability to think in more abstract ways he was able to understand.

            According to Erikson, Noah is in the industry vs. inferiority stage. The characteristic of this stage is the gaining of new skills in order to develop a sense of self worth and reliance. One is able to see that Noah is in this stage because he has a strong desire to tie his shoes and therefore is trying to develop his sense of self worth by learning that skill. Noah’s teacher is helping him gain this self worth by giving him the necessary tools to help him achieve the skill. In this case she is teaching him a simple song that will help him remember the correct order to tie his shoe.

            This is an important developmental stage that children must reach in order to be successful in life. This stage is so important because it gives children the knowledge that they can learn new things and apply those new skills to their life. There are serious consequences to children who do not learn how to acquire skills. These children are unable to function in society because they do not have the capability to learn how. In addition, children who do not gain a sense of self worth have a hard time desiring to learn new skills as they grow older. These children will have social problems because of their immature nature. As a result they will also have a hard time finding and keeping a job.

            Children who do not adequately go through the industry vs. inferiority stage will also suffer academically. The ability to build on one’s skills is an important ability for success in life. Children who are unable to find self worth through learning new things will also be unable to build upon already gathered knowledge. In essence, failure to achieve this stage will basically ensure that a child remains unable to cultivate skills and succeed in life because of the low self esteem issues present. This is a crisis for the child because he or she will suffer humiliation as a result. However, it is also a crisis for society because interventions will be necessary in order to try to help these children pass through this stage.

Case Study #2

            Both Alexa and Mandy are in the identity vs. role confusion stage. These two girls are struggling to find their place in the adolescent world by attempting to blend their various roles as daughters, friends and students while also trying to establish a self identity despite peer pressure. The crisis regarding Alexa involves her relationship with her parents. She is frustrated with their involvement in her life but she is willing to betray their trust in order to establish the self identity she wishes to have as the date of the most popular boy at school. The outcome of this betrayal is an unsatisfactory relationship with her parents that may extend even past high school. At the same time, the crisis that Mandy is faced with is more of a health issue. If she continues to display bulimic behavior it will have a negative impact on her overall health both now and in the future. She is trying to find her self identity and it appears to be wrapped up in dangerous bulimic behavior.

            According to James Marcia, Alexa is going through identity foreclosure. She has made the commitment to lie to her parents about the prom and staying at Mandy’s house but she hasn’t actually gone through the crisis of betraying her parents yet. Mandy is going through identity moratorium. She is currently going through the crisis of bulimia but hasn’t made the commitment to ask her parents or other adults for help nor has she admitted that she has a problem with food. Both girls are going through a time of change and chaos as they attempt to self identify themselves.

            Based on the conversation between Alexa and Mandy, Alexa’s parents have an authoritarian parenting style. Her parents try to control all aspects of her life by making sure they know where she is, who she is with and when she will be home. As a result, Alexa has a hard time feeling as though she is autonomous from her parents. She is a bit immature in this respect because she hasn’t been allowed to have many experiences apart from her parents. As a result, she is willing to do something rather childish by lying to her parents about where she will be on prom night. On the other hand, Mandy’s parents display a permissive style of parenting. Mandy is allowed to decide for herself about what she will do – as is evident with the tattoos and body piercings. Her parents aren’t taking responsibility for her current bulimic behavior because they are unaware that it exists. Therefore, Mandy isn’t able to find enough self worth to believe that she looks fine the way she is. She is attempting to exert some control over her life since her parents don’t desire to control her.

            Mandy is obviously struggling with body image problems that lead to low self esteem as is evident in her bulimic behavior. Her self concept is damaged and she is attempting to make herself feel better by controlling the food aspect of her life. However, bulimia will not make her self esteem any higher because she will continue to struggle with self image and control issues and the bulimia will continue until she deals with these issues. Mandy wasn’t given enough attention and discipline as she was growing up and so doesn’t feel as if her parents take her seriously enough. Permissive parents often come across as disinterested because of their lack of control over their children. As a result, Mandy never developed a positive self image because her most important adult role models never made her feel as if she important enough.

            Mandy needs to address the issues that are leading to her bulimic behavior because bulimia has serious health consequences. She is damaging her esophagus and stomach by constantly throwing up. In addition, she will have continued social problems that come with trying to hide bulimia from people. She will begin to come across as secretive and therefore it will be difficult to build lasting relationships with people. Her school has the potential to help her by discussing eating disorders in required classes and providing resources for those struggling with them.

Case Study #3

            There are several adjustments that can be made to improve the science grades of the girls and the English grades of the girls. Each teacher could work one on one with the struggling students to help them improve their grades. They could also recommend tutors that could help them outside of school hours. However, the most obvious adjustment would be separating the boys and the girls. The girls could all attend science class together while all the boys go to English class and then they could switch for the next class period. This would eliminate the girls’ problem with not having enough time with the equipment and it would reduce the need for the boys to show off in front of the girls. Boys and girls may not think differently but they learn and behave differently. Research has shown that girls don’t do as well as boys in science classes. This doesn’t need to be the case if girls are given ample opportunity to learn science concepts in their own way and this includes more hands on time with equipment as well as more one on one time with the instructor. Additionally, male students tend to feel the need to show off at this age. They are beginning to be interested in the opposite sex and impressing them becomes more important than classroom activities. Boys and girls learn and process things in different ways but that doesn’t mean that their grades in specific subjects needs to suffer. Simple adjustments can improve their overall progress significantly.

            One typical gender stereotype is the idea that girls don’t perform as well in science class as boys do. This is a problem because it lowers the expectations of science instructors when teaching girls and it also lowers the girls’ expectations of themselves. If they find out that adults believe they don’t do as well in science then they will self fulfill that prophesy by not doing well. This is an enormous problem for girls – particularly those girls who are genuinely interested in science and wish to pursue a career in the science field after high school. If they are not given ample opportunity to learn and practice science concepts then they will struggle with the ability to achieve their future goals. Additionally, if science instructors don’t have high expectations of girls then girls will not have the ability to perform well. Science teachers need to hold girls to the same standards that they do boys and work hard to show girls that they can be successful in science subjects.

            “Boys will be boys” is an overused excuse for rowdy male behavior. This stereotype also has the potential to be self fulfilling. If teachers and other adults expect boys to be rowdy and out of control and don’t attempt to make them stop then boys will think this behavior is all right. Boys need to spend less time roughhousing and more time concentrating on their school work. Adults can help boys achieve this goal by expecting them to behave themselves and display self control while in the classroom. Boys have enormous potential to achieve great success while in school but they need to have teachers that make them realize that they are expected to act their age and get their schoolwork done. If this expectation is not evident boys will not have any reason to meet it.

            Boys and girls are different. They learn differently and behave differently. Boys are better in some subjects while girls are better in other subjects. However, this doesn’t doom one gender or the other to failure just as it doesn’t automatically guarantee success. Teachers need to realize the differences between boys and girls and work to nurture those differences. However, they must do this in such a way that shows boys and girls that their expectations for classroom performance and behavior are the same for everyone. In addition, teachers need to get rid of common stereotypes and instead focus on each individual student and their strengths and weaknesses in order to provide effective instruction for all students. Then it won’t matter whether a student is a boy or a girl, it will only matter who each student is individually.

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