Lec 1 - Chap 1 - Studying Children's Development.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Carly Prusky

Studying Children’s Development – Chapter 1 th Thursday January 10 , 2013 Why is understanding development important for teachers? • It helps teachers understand the children o Understand limitations of children o Understand why they behave in certain ways o Understand that children learn in different ways • Helps teachers to set expectations for the children • Have empathy towards the children • Teacher’s beliefs about children and development influence how they teach and interact with children • The most effective teachers attempt to really understand students • The difference between teaching and learning… The best teachers start with learning in mind o Best teachers have learning in mind Schools as a context for development • Students will have spent more than 10,000 hours in school by the time they graduate from high school o Spend a lot of time in school • The fact that children spend so much time in school is important – school plays a major role in development! o Teachers are key to students Current Status of Children • Pg. 17 • Lots of language troubles in children What is development? • Development refers to changes in the child that occur over time o Child changes • Not just any change o A “developmental” change must follow a logical pattern that moves toward greater complexity Developmental Theories • Used to describe how children differ across ages, and how development happens • 5 major perspectives on children’s development o Biological o Psychoanalytic o Behavioural o Cognitive o Contextual Different theorists tend to differ in their perspectives on the following issues: • Nature vs. nurture o Genes vs. home environment • Stability vs. plasticity o Learning at different points in time o Critical point? • Continuity vs. discontinuity o Fluidity • Passive vs. active child o Anything that happens to the child o Do they do anything? • Endpoint vs. NO endpoint o Do all children develop in the same way? Biological Theories • Explain development in terms of innate biological processes – we develop on a predetermined biological timetable o Ages vs. stages o Nature • Have been used to explain changes in height, weight, language, mental abilities, motor skills, and many other characteristics • There is a lot of evidence for this view – genetic differences account for a lot of variation among people • However, environment certainly plays a role o Environment does play a role Psychoanalytic Theories • Focus on developmental changes in the self and personality o Believe that early experiences greatly influence development • Psychoanalysts see development as a set of discrete stages o At each stage, children have to deal with a particular kind of conflict and this influences their development o Sigmund Freud o Not much in educational psychology Behavioural Theories • Maintain that developmental changes in behaviour are influenced by the environment (nurture), and the major mechanisms of development are principles of learning o Nurture • Believe that we influence children’s development through things like reward and punishment o Watch the way you speak i.e. Sarcasm towards children • Also believe that children learn from observations and imitation o Social interaction  How children imitate each other Cognitive Theories • Development is an interplay between nature and nurture • Focus on the way children construct their own understandings of their environment o Cognitive Developmental Theory  Jean Piaget  Universal pattern to children’s cognitive development  Development takes place through the interaction of innate and environmental factors  Children play an active role in their own development o Information-Processing Theory  Focuses on the precise steps involved in performing mental tasks  Analogous to a computer  Cognitive advances in thinking result from gradual improvements in children’s attention, memory, and strategies for acquiring and useful information o Social Learning Theory  Explains how children learn social behaviours such as helping others or aggressive behaviours
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