Human Lifespan and Development: The Nature of Children Essay

Published: 2019-11-03 20:00:44
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Philosophical ideas about the development of children arose from old ideas about human nature and history. Many of the philosophers who proposed philosophical ideas about childhood development are considered either nativists or maturationists. The view of nativists is that behavior is innate and is strongly affected by the genes. Maturationists also believe that genes influence behavior, but the behavior grows to maturity because it is under the control of genes. This paper intends to define, as well as, discuss two different philosophical views, which, historically, have been held regarding the nature of psychological development of children. It will then provide a section that compares those historical views with the current conception about the development in children. A conclusion will sum up the discussion. One philosophical view about the development of children was proposed by Stanley Hall (1844-1924). In addition to contributing to philosophical views about childhood development, Hall is the founder of the American Psychological Association and was the first Ph. D. in Psychology.

He came up with his view using the questionnaire method, which involved asking people about their lives. Darwin influenced him through the principle that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny in which ontogeny means an individuals development while phylogeny means the evolution of species. In that regard, Hall proposed the following developmental stages. The first is infancy (0-4 years), which he named the animal phase because the child demonstrates behaviors that are closely related to those of animals courtesy of having a blank mind. He referred to the second stage (Age 4-8 years) as the hunting and fishing cultures. The third stage (age 8-12 years) is the savage and primitive (or tribal) human cultures. The fourth stage (age 12-25 years) is the eighteenth century idealism. The fifth and last stage (age 25 and above) is the contemporary civilization stage. Stanley Halls philosophy on child rearing is that parents do not have to worry about the bad behavior of their children because they will outgrow it, which is consistent with maturationist theory (MacDonald, n.d.).

Another Philosopher, John Dewey (1859-1952), believed that people could project the society that they want. He wanted schools to be places where children can grow, as well as, carry intelligence to social democracy. He also believed democracy and science demand one another because the most objective means of governance is democracy and the most democratic means of knowing is science. In that regard, he promoted democracy and science as ideal ends for the societys progress, as well as, childs individual development. For Dewey, the values that are endemic to the concept of development lie in socially agreed-upon values rather than natural law. Thus, he maintained that development for an individual and the society is a function of socially acknowledged values. According to him, objective thinking and democratic governance were the best guarantees of a just, good, and experimenting society.

He based his social and developmental psychology upon the understanding of people with regard to their cultural circumstances. In essence, culture is a developmental mechanism. This concept of development situates development in a social context, as well as, understands development as being incumbent upon social practices and culturally valued goals (Cahan, 2008). Despite there being many philosophical views about the development of children in history, very few views have been integrated in the current child development concept. This is because, with time, more reliable, and valid concepts emerged, which explained the development of children more effectively.

There are three main philosophical views, which the current concept about the development of children integrates, namely, the Waldorf education, the Montessori methods (programs), and the Reggio Emilia method. In that regard, the current concept of childhood development differs from the previous two in the following ways. First, Stanley Halls view emphasizes on the influence of genetics on the behavior of individuals whereas the current concept providing an environmental that encourages desirable development through direction and guidance of children. The current concept considers genes to be having minimal effect on the psychological development of a child. In essence, Stanley Halls view emphasizes on the nature while the current concept emphasizes on nurture (Edwards, 2002). The current developmental philosophy differs from John Deweys philosophy in the sense that Deweys view emphasizes on science and democracy, whereas the current philosophy does not.

However, the current philosophy acknowledges science, but involves parents and teachers in making decisions about developmental aspects of their children rather than involving democracy. This is because the children are too young and less informed about decision-making; thus, they need the help of superiors who mind them to help in making decisions. The parents and teachers play a significant role in decision-making until the child is old enough to make decisions accordingly. The current philosophy requires the exposure of children to different educational and developmental aspects so that they can respond and engage in the aspects, which they find most appealing to them with regard to individual differences. This is not the case for the other two philosophical views discussed in this paper, which disregard this developmental aspect (Edwards, 2002).

In conclusion, there are many philosophical views about the development of children in history. Most of these views are not relevant because the concept they provided was narrow and ineffective. Examples of such views include the Stanley Halls and John Deweys views, among others. The three philosophical views that the current childhood developmental concept considers include the Montessori programs, the Reggio Emilia method, and the Waldorf education. The current concept differs from the previous ones with regard to the scope of developmental aspects, with the previous ones being narrow-focused than the ones integrated in the current philosophical view, among other differences.

Cahan E. D. (2008). Child Development, History of the Concept of. Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. Advameg Inc., The Gale Group Edwards C. P. (2002). Three Approaches from Europe: Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia, Early Childhood Research and Practice, Volume 4, Number 1. Lincoln, NE, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln MacDonald K. (n.d.). Historical Figures in Development Psychology. Long Beach, CA, Department of Psychology, CSU-Long Beach

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