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Mark Schmuckler

Child development – a field of study that seeks to account for the gradual evolution of the child’s cognitive, social and other capacities first by describing changes in the child’s observed behaviours and then by uncovering the processes and strategies that underlie these changes Development involves the systematic changes that occur in individuals between the moment of conception and the moment of death Science of development Developmental science versus developmental sciences Interdisciplinary nature of the study of development Theoretical Perspectives Learning perspectives Behaviourism Classical conditioning Operant conditioning Cognitive developmental perspectives Piagetian theory Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory Information processing theory Psychodynamic perspectives Freudian theory Erikson’s theory Systems theory perspectives Complexity Wholeness and organization Identity and stabilization Morphogenesis Equifinality Dynamic systems theory A theory that proposes that individuals develop and function within systems and that studies and relationships among individuals and systems and the processes by which these relationships operate Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory Ethological theory Life span perspective A theory that sees development as a process that continues throughout the life cycle, from infancy through adulthood and old age Normative vs. non-normative events Cohort Developmental themes Biology-environment Biological extremists (Arnold Gesell) argued that biology is a destiny and that development is merely a matter of maturation Maturation: a genetically determined process of growth that unfolds naturally over a period of time Behaviourists (John B. Watson) Active-passive child Continuity-discontinuity Situation-individual Cultural universals-cultural relativism Risk and resilience Summary Some perspectives offer better and more complete accounts of certain aspects of development than do others Piaget’s organismic theory is especially helpful in explaining children’s cognitive development Bandura’s cognitive social learning theory offers a useful perspective for explaining social development Freudian theory is especially useful in understanding problems of emotional dysfunction, whereas ethological approaches have been particularly helpful in describing the development of emotional expression and communication Many problems and issues benefit from the application of these different theoretical perspectives Language and emotional and social behavior are interlinked Children’s learning takes place in social contexts with parents and peers The ways that children perceive the environment may be influenced by the development of their motor skills Language and cognitive development are better understood by recognizing their mutual interdependence Every aspect of development is related to several others This increasing acceptance of the interdependence of deomains of development is leading to a greater acceptance of systems approaches to development Many theories share at least some of the assumptions of a systems approach Erikson, Vygotsky, the eth
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