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Contempory Child Development Theories
Transcript of Contempory Child Development Theories
Theories of Early Childhood Education
Cultural Historical Theory
Social situation of development
The study of contemporary child development theories and practices provided the opportunity of a sound understanding of different child development theories which is essential for early childhood educators in their observing, interpreting, planning and evaluating of children's learning and development. With the knowledge and skill learnt, they can approach the task of assisting children's learning and development in different ways as every child is unique and has his own pathways of development. Also, equipped with the practical tools of observing, analysing, planning and evaluating children's learning and development, we can convince our co-workers why we approach the way we do, thus building up a workforce that are informed and guided by the theories. Swim (2008) termed it 'eclectic'pproach. He argued that
...it means that you understand the different theories, can explain your beliefs, and can utilize them to make effective educational decisions. Taking the eclectic approach is believed to be the most practical method for using theories of child development ... because no one theory is comprehensive enough to adequately explain all aspects of development.
(McDevutt & Ormrod, 2004, as cited in Swim, 2008, p. 6)
Focus on describing and understanding the process of change in children’s learning and development over time.
It was popular in the past as it uses ‘stages’ to describe and measure the development of a child at certain age.
Emphasises the central role that families and cultural groups play in children’s learning and the importance of respectful relationships.
Focus on the role of experiences in shaping children’s behaviour.
The idea in this theory is that behaviour develops in social situations.
A critical theorist would also be interested in how they can change themselves and their practice based on what their learning (Kilderry, 2004, as cited in Victorian Early Years Learning Framework, 2009)
Emphasis on teacher thinking critically.
Post-structural theory is used to break down oppositions. These oppositions arise can lead to new thinking (Sumsion, 2005, as cited in VEYLF, 2009).
There is the possibility that an event, documentation or assessment can hold contradictory meanings. These many meanings provide opportunities for people interested in post-structuralism to ‘deconstruct’, what might be happening.
We will be focusing in two theories:
Socio-behaviourist theory by B. F. Skinner
Cultural historical theory by Lev Vygotsky
Ideal and real forms
Zone of proximal development
Observation 2 - Cultural Historical Theory
Observation 1 - Socio-Behaviourist Theory
Social Situation of Development
Ideal and real forms
Zone of proximal development
Molecular analysis = "breaking down the learning/behaviour observed into smaller section"
see more clearly the learning/behaviour of children being observed
reward the learning/behaviour promptly
Evaluate our own responsiveness and sensitiveness critically for improvement.
Child A was taking photos using a toy camera. Her interest, behaviour and learning was reinforced by a series of reward (reinforcement) from her surroundings, including peers responded cooperatively by saying cheese; teacher gave her the much desired attention by posing for the photo, also taking and extending her involvement in the activity. The child may not know the full reason for the attention but as she enjoyed the experience, she will likely repeat the play later.
Knowing and understanding what positive and negative reinforcement will do to change the behavior of children, we can use them as a tool in encouraging and guiding children's learning and behaviour.
Child A's socially appropriate behaviour continued during the whole period observed. This is the result of acknowledgment of her identity and skill by peers and the teacher - a condition for the behaviour to continue and repeated. When the teacher verbally acknowledged A's existing knowledge for the use of camera, interacted with A on one-on-one basis, an example of cause (good behavioiur) and effect (get teacher's appreciation) pattern of behaviour was set, which is observable for other children.
The 'end product' of child A's learning is her socially desired behaviour during the whole period of observation. With 'Molecular analysis', we can break down the end product into smaller sections, such as using camera to initiate social interaction with peers and adults; sustained verbal interaction with an adult on a specific topic; looking for solutions in face of challenge (dark photo); extending interest in a different way (making a camera with cardboard) and so on. As educators, we can intervene at any point, to guide and support these behaviour or learning promptly towards the end result. So Skinner's molecular structure provides early childhood educators with a practical tool to sensitively give guidance and encouragement during the process of learning. Even if the learning did not reach the end result immediately, the small achievement during the process of learning, due to the support of the educators, will be enjoyed and celebrated by the learner, making learning a pleasant journey for the children.
Using Vygotsky's social situation lenses, child K's behaviour is easily understood and explained. When K waited for his turn of the bubble-making container, the patience he showed was not something he was born with as a maturational perspective might have explained. It is because the social environment in which K grew up believes turn-taking. There must be situations when K had to wait and was given his turn/share after he had waited. The concept of waiting was then internalized as part of his cognitive development which accommodates it as social protocol. So the patience we observed in child K was molded into him by the social situations, whether it is home, day care centres or wider community, which is the source of his cognitive development.
Realizing that we, early childhood educators are part of the social environment from where children absorb the source for cognitive development, we must be more critical to our practices and personal beliefs to make sure this part of the 'source' is clean and healthy.
In the bubble-painting activity, the ideal form for bubble-making with the materials provided while the real forms differ from child to child. Some children are capable of making bubbles by blowing through the straw, some have trouble moving the bubbles on to the paper and still others struggle to make bubbles through the straw. A sensitive educator should break down the learning into smaller sections using Skinner's molecular analysis and support the children step by step. The educator in the observation first demonstrated the ideal form of bubble making through the straw. By observing and internalizing, children who previously were unable to blow bubbles through straws will achieve the goal as their development (for the control of their fine motor such as lips and breath) was pushed forward by the ideal form.
Also, child K took the bubble making container away from the child who accidentally spilled the liquid. That is the 'real form' of K's behaviour when facing other's mistake (punishment). The educator, by explaining verbally that people who make a mistake, should be given another chance, was presenting before child K the 'ideal form' of language and behaviour. This situation will be internalized by K and he may change his attitude and behaviour in face of someone else's mistake.
Child L was in the zone of proximal development as she already had the knowledge of how bubble painting should be done but had trouble breathing out with her mouth through a straw to make the bubbles. The educator, by demonstrating how to breath out with one's mouth (pucker lips and blow) created a situation of learning. When child L through observing and practicing, succeeded blowing through her mouth, the gap between her ability and the goal was overcome. Intellectual development also took place as she may apply the skill she learnt (blowing through a straw) to other situations.
From the analysis above, it is clearly shown that the theories by both B.F. Skinner and Lev Vygotsky give early childhood educators insight and understanding of children's development and learning. Both also provide tools that early childhood educators can use in their observation, analysis, planning and evaluation of children's development and learning.
There are differences between the two theories as well in the sense that the emphasis is different. Skinner emphasizes behaviour learning and believes that the change of behaviour is achieved through rewards, an outside factor either material or spiritual. This theory enables educators and other professionals approach behaviour issues with practical tool. The limitation of the theory is that the desired behaviour may not last once the reinforcement/reward is removed.
Alan S. & Gavin B. (Eds.). (2003). An introduction to developmental psychology (1st edition). USA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (2009). Victorian early years learning and development framework. Melbourne: Commonwealth of Australia
Department of Education, Employment and Work Place Relations (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years framework for Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia
Department of Community Services (2002). NSW Curriculum Framework for Children’s Services: A practice of relationship. NSW: Commonwealth of Australia
Fleer,M., (2013). Cultural-historical theories of child development. In T.Maynard, S.Powell and N.Thomas (Eds.), An introduction to early childhood studies, (3rd ed., pp.1-14). UK:Sage
Kail, R. V. (2002). Children. Prentice Hall, Family & Relationships. Retrieved from http://thebccp2.org/readings/kail/
Rieber,R.W. (Ed.). (1998). The collected works of L.S.Vygotsky, Volume 5: Child psychology. New York: Plenum Press
Swim, T. J. (2008). Theories of child development: building blocks of developmentally appropriate practices. In Early childhood news. Retrieved April, 2014, from http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/ earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleId=411
Veresov, N. (2010). Introducing cultural historical theory: main concepts and principles of genetic research methodology, Cultural-Historical Psychology [P], vol 4, pp. 83-90.
Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in Society: Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridage MA : Harvard University Press.
The educator, seeing A's disposition of positive behaviour and learning, wants to enhance it. So she consciously used Once the pattern is repeated, child A will repeat her good behaviour to prompt the result (attention) she desires. Other children will observe the pattern and may copy the behaviour as well.
Skinner believes that behaviour is based on cause and effect relationship. His theory proposed the connection between behaviour and learning. Learning is a function to change behaviour and it changes through positive and negative reinforcement.
Vygotsky argues that 'the social environment is the
for the appearance of all specific human properties of the personality gradually acquired by the child'. (Vygotsky, 1998, p. 203)
In other words, what we see in a child's personality at a given point of time is the product of the child's social environment where the child personality is shaped.
Jade and Lilla experienced perezhivanie during their learning experience. For Jade who spilled the watercolour get even more upset when Keanu took the container away from her. She learnt that a mistake could mean loss of opportunity to do what she likes to do if not for the educator's intervention. She was more careful when given another chance, which shows that her emotional experience and thought has led to improved performance with bubble painting. Similarly Lilla was seriously worried after accidentally swallowed some of the materials. It led her to think the consequence of her mistake. Her cautiousness with the material later on reflects her cognitive development due to the perezhivanie.
Perezhivanie provides opportunities for educators to focus on what and how children learn from their experience that effect both their feelings and thoughts. It supports the development of children's mental health. Educator can use this knowledge to support children's positive mental health and development. Educators can use this strategy for future planning for the children as perezhivanie can be a tool to guide children's learning.
Vygoysky believes that every child is unique. Every child has an individual development trajectory, depending on social environment settings and child's indivdual characteristics. He believes that learning leads to children's development and higher mental function.
Ying (Olivia) Xu
By ‘ideal forms’ of the social and cultural environment of a child, Vygotsky refers to the developed form prevailing the existing society (Veresov, 2010), such as language, science knowledge or personality.The ‘real form’ on the other hand, refers to the primitive status of development.
An adult making a cabinet with his hammer and nails is the ‘ideal form’ of the activity - he can aim at the nail and hammer on it to secure two pieces together. While the child who tries to aim at the nail but misses is at the primitive or ‘real form’ of development of that activity, a status which needs to be improved through observation, assistance from more knowledgeable person, internalization of the concepts and practice (Fleer, 2013).
To make a behaviour or learning last, there must be something else other than reward from the outside - something from within the human mind. This is what Vygotsky's theory emphasize - the higher mental function the human mind. Any learning, through the interactions with the social environment, is interpreted by the human mind and represented in the way that is meaningful to them. The main concepts in his theory, namely social situation, perezhivanie and zone of proximal development, all involve the cognitive process of what the outside factors project and how the human mind interprete. The process creates changed behaviour, a result of cognitive development.
The different theories enable early childhood educators to perceive what we see from different angles and provide different tools in approaching different issues. A Skinner's perspective will explain Child L (in observation 2)'s achievement (being able to blow bubble through a straw) in the way that she received a lot of rewards (reinforcement) from the educator who gave her full attention. While a Vygotsky's perspective will explain the achievement as a result of Child L's internalization of what she had observed from the educator and peers.