Applying Child Development
To complete this assignment successfully, you should:
We assume that we understand human development, for each of us has first hand understanding of what it means to learn and to mature. Some of us have a knack for math that seemed to come naturally to us, while other skills were more difficult to establish. We each have our own unique finger print, DNA sample, and personality. We have much in common with others, but we also are different from everyone else. We developed skills, abilities and interests at our own pace, too.
The idiosyncratic nature of our development is very exciting, but also frustrating. It helps explain why we can experience development without fully understanding children. Isn't it startling, in some sense, to recognize how little we understand of the developmental process?
I felt as though I unfolded anew, as I watched my children take different routes through walking, talking, peer pressure, school problems, first loves, heartbreaks, and disappointments. I went through them, but they had a different meaning for me when I was the intimate observer rather than the participant. It was like the difference in what you see and experience as a driver or as the passenger in a car.
As we look for answers about human development, we certainly give credence to case studies and material that focuses on one person's vantage. We honor personal accounts and journals of life experiences.
Piaget's findings, and many of his ideas came through observing his own three youngsters. Different stories, different lives, and we combine them to come to understand who children are and how they develop.
How do you suppose Sigmund Freud saw children? What kind of a life did his daughter, Anna, have.
What about B.F. Skinner's two children? Did the one who spent her infancy in a box develop normally? Do we see Skinner referring to her as a developing child? Did he see his child in any of the ways that I perceive or view youngsters? Probably not. This is how I came to be interested in research.
How did Bandura determine that aggression could be passed from a model to the observing child?
How did Lorenz or Bowlby decide that bonding was a critical early step? How did we arrive at the notion that children are ready to read by kindergarten?
How many teachers realize that fourth graders need to talk, that early adolescents are both sure of themselves and so splintered that a chance remark turns them into a bundle of toothpicks?
Do teachers of second graders see whining as part of the development of an internal sense of right and wrong, or just get worn thin with hearing it?
We have thousands of pieces of research published each year. Are the studies we depend on to inform our practices, sound? Are we learning from the research, or using it to inform our practice?
When two studies of a classroom come to different conclusions, which facts or perceptions are we to believe? Our theory and what we choose to look at determines in large part what we come to see as understanding children.
This assignment asks that we look at and establish a savvy way to increase our expertise in observing children and thinking about what we are seeing. The following guidelines were developed recently for examining experimental studies.
Critique of Experimental Research
E-mail J'Anne Ellsworth at Janne.Ellsworth@nau.edu
Course developed by J'Anne Ellsworth
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Northern Arizona University