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Chapter 5

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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 2000
Frank Cameron

Chapter 5: Basic Principles of Early Development Human Development: Terminology, Concepts, and Theory Concepts and Terms o Life status refers to one’s physical, psychological and behavioral attributes, as well as to talents and abilities  All of these personal elements are influenced by genetic material inherited from parents plus environmental circumstances that have nourished or impeded development o Parents transmit genetic material to their offspring that strongly influences what the offspring become o Genetic material is likened to a computer chip that encodes a number of messages, these messages are activated to influence many aspects of physical and psychological growth:  Genotype: the genetic message makeup of an individual o Established at conception by combining the sperm and ovum o Genotype is usually constant o Constancy fails when mutation/other error in cell division occurs o Genotype NOT readily accessible for actual inspection (unlike the phenotype)  Phenotype: observable physical traits, may be used to draw inferences about the genotype o Phenotype is the observable result of interaction between the genotype and the environment  Growth matrix: the result of interactions between heredity and environment, partially observable (it includes the phenotype), also includes all the internal aspects of a child that generate e a given response in a particular situation o Combination of phenotype and genotype o Growth matrix changes as interactions occur between organism and its environment  Maturation: any development or change in the status or underlying process of a behavioral trait that takes places in the demonstrable absence of specific practical experience o Also occurs in absence of specific instruction (this is what distinguishes maturation from learning)  Learning: changes associated with specific practice or instruction  Readiness (readiness for an experience): exists when a child is at a point in development (including previous maturation and learning) where he or she might be expected to profit from a particular situation o Example: “reading readiness”- the point in a child’s development at which one could expect progress as a result of exposure to reading experience or instruction o Developmental readiness includes both maturation and previous learning (no magic formula to predict specific amounts of each) o If you have deficient maturational or previous learning, child would be inadequate to establish readiness Developmental Theories o Different theories about human growth and development Preformationist Perspective (had an early following) o The human organism is preformed before birth; the foundation elements of human behavior are intact from the beginning and do NOT qualitatively develop or change during life o Denied importance of growth and development o This theory is similar to homuncular theory of human reproduction: a completely formed, tiny person existed in the sperm  Tiny person called a homunculus, began to grow in size at conception but did not change in the sense that tissue changes occurred qualitatively (i.e. formation of various organs) o Environmental effects on human development were discounted o Neither new growth nor directional influence of development did much to change the preformed organism Predeterministic Perspective o Similar to that of the preformationists- outcome of both theories essentially the same: environmental influence was thought to be minimal  Growth patterns are viewed as innate or internally regulated o However some significant differences between two theoretical positions  Qualitative growth and tissue differentiation played substantial role in theories of predeterminism  Predeterminism has doctrine of recapitulation (G. Stanley Hall)  Recapitulation: the development of the child from conception to maturity progressed through all of the evolutionary phases of the human race (popular theory around turn of the century) Tabula Rasa Perspective o Tabula rasa: approaches that emphasize the prepotency of environmental influences  Term means blank slate, popularized by John Locke in 17 century  Emphasizes extreme environmental impact  Opposite from the preformationist/predeterministic theories  Minimizes influence of internal factors (heredity), environment seen as playing predominant role in all aspects of development  An individual’s ability was dependent on what was “written” on black slate through experience *neither tabula rasa nor predeterministic approaches to child development were satisfactory (little empirical support) Interactional Perspectives o Human development specialists now subscribe to the interaction between heredity and environment o Both genetic and environmental factors set limits for growth and selectively influence each other o Emphasizes analysis of relationships between heredity and environment….this is a substantial difference from earlier positions, which assumed prepotence of one over the other o Interactional position seems to represent reality better The Developmental Process o Anumber of interesting questions have focused on the nature of the developmental process and have become rather controversial , this section presents an examination of some of these questions Continuity versus Discontinuity of Growth o Does development proceed by gradual continuous quantitative change or in stages typified by abrupt discontinuous changes in quality? o Theories emphasizing stages encouraged the discontinuity view of human development  Early developmental stage theories implied little or no process overlap from one stage to the next  Each developmental stage was specifically and qualitatively different from the others o First developmental theorist to dismiss the notion of discontinuity was Piaget  Had concept of intelligence that included 3 global developmental periods: a) the period of sensorimotor intelligence (birth-first 2 years of life), b) the period of preparation for and organization of concrete operations (2-11yrs), c) the period of formal operations (11 + years)  Piaget conceived the total developmental picture as one of a dynamic interaction, with the organism operating on the environment, as well as being molded by it o Continuity position contends that growth is a gradual process, rather than series of abrupt changes followed by periods of less rapid change (discontinuity) o Both continuity and discontinuity theories of development have had strong proponents  However continuity theories seem to have more support than discontinuity theories Critical Periods and Developmental Vulnerability o Vulnerability refers to how susceptible the organism is to being injured or altered by a traumatic incident (exposure to toxic agents and cell division mutations, etc.) o Biology and embryology have provided information about how human gro
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