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Theories and Contributors to Early Childhood Education

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Alison Miller

on 16 February 2015

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Transcript of Theories and Contributors to Early Childhood Education

Theories and Contributors to Early Childhood Education
Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934)
Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005)
Howard Gardner (1943- )
Abraham Maslow (1890-1970)
Erik H. Erikson (1902-1994)
Self-actualization Theory
Sociocultural Theory
Ecological Theory
Psychosocial Development Theory
Multiple Intelligences Theory
Born and raised in Brooklyn, eldest of seven children. He attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin to study Psychology. While attending Wisconsin, he was apart of a new line of research investigating primate dominance behavior and sexuality. After furthering his research at Columbia University, from 1937 to 1951 he was on faculty of Brooklyn College. Maslow became the leader of the Humanistic School of Psychology that emerged in the 1950's and 1960's. Maslow was a professor at Brandeis University from 1951 to 1969, and then became a resident fellow of the Laughlin Institute in California. Previous to him, Psychology focused more on the abnormal and the ill. Original for his time, he focused on positive mental health. He died of a heart attack in 1970 (
A Science Odyssey: People and Discoveries: Abraham Maslow
, 1998).
(1998). PMS: Public Broadcasting Service.
A Science Odyssey: People and Discoveries: Abraham Maslow
. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/bhmasl.html
Urie Bronfenbrenner was born on April 29, 1917 in Russia. His family relocated to the United States at the age of 6. He completed a double major in psychology and music at Cornell University. He received a masters degree at Harvard University, and in 1942 completed his PhD from the University of Michigan. Urie was hired as a psychologist in the army doing many assignments for the Office of Strategic Services and the Army Air Corps. He worked as an assistant chief psychologist in administration and research before working as an assistant professor in Psychology at the University of Michigan. In 1948, he accepted the position as a professor in Human Development, family studies and psychology at Cornell University. He is revered all over the world for his innate relationship between research and policy on child development. He is most renowned for his Ecological System Theory and co-founder of the Head Start Program that provides education to under privileged children in the United States. Urie Bronfenbrenner died on September 25, 2005 at the age of 88 from diabetes (
Urie Bronfenbrenner - Biography, Books and Theories,
(n.d). Famous Psychologists - List, Biographies and Theories.
Urie Bronfenbrenner - Biography, Books and Theories
, Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://www.famouspsychologists.org/urie-bronfenbrenner/
Lev Vygotsky was born November 17, 1896 in Orsha, a city in the western region of the Russian Empire (Cherry, n.d.).
He attended Moscow State University, graduating with a law degree in 1917. He studied many topics including; sociology, linguistics, psychology and philosophy. In 1924 he attended the Institute of Psychology in Moscow (Cherry, n.d.).
Lev was a prolific writer, he published six books on psychology topics over a ten year period. His interests were diverse, but his main focus was child development and education. He is considered a "seminal thinker" in psychology, much of his work is still being discovered and explored today (Cherry, n.d.).
Unfortunately he died in 1934 at the age of 38 from tuberculosis (Cherry, n.d.).
Cherry, K. (n.d.). Psychology: Theories, Experiments, an Quizzes.
Lev Vygotsky Biography
. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://psychology.about.com/od/profilesmz/vygotsky.htm
Erik Erikson was born June 15, 1902 in Frankfurt, Germany. After high school, he moved to Florence to pursue his interest in art (Cherry, n.d.).
In 1927 he became an art teacher at a psychoanalytically enlightened school for children in Vienna. This changed his life and his career. He earned a certificate from the Maria Montessori School, then pursued psychoanalytic training at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute. In 1936, he joined the Institute of Human Relations, part of the department of psychiatry at Yale University (Cherry, n.d.).
Erikson's work focused on the stages of life associated with a specific psychological struggle, which contributes to a major aspect of personality. His work and theory stemmed from his own childhood experiences. His biological father's identity was concealed from him for many years. After he learned the truth about his father, he was left feeling confused about his own identity (Cherry, n.d.).
He died May 12, 1994 (Cherry, n.d.).
(n.d.). Erikson Institute - Master's Degrees - Child Development - Social Work.
Erik H. Erikson - Erikson Institute
. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://www.erikson.edu/about/history/erik-erikson/
Cherry, K. (n.d.). Psychology: Theories, Experiments, and Quizzes.
Erik Erikson: The Man Behind Psychosocial Stages
. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://psychology.about.com/od/profilesofmajorthinkers/p/bio_erikson.htm
Howard Gardner was born on July 11,1943 in Scranton,Pennsylvania (Cherry, n.d.).
He completed his post-secondary education at Harvard, earning his undergraduate degree in 1965 and his Ph.D. in 1971 (Cherry, n.d.).
Originally he planned to study law, but he was inspired by the works of Jean Piaget and his mentor famous psychoanalyst Erik Erikson to study psychology (Cherry, n.d.).
Howard spent a lot of time working with normal and gifted children and brain-damaged adults from which he began developing his theory of multiple intelligences (Cherry, n.d.).
He has received numerous awards for his work (Cherry, n.d.):
1981, MacArthur Prize Fellowship
1987, WIlliam Jame Award, American Psychological Association
1990, University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education
2000, John S. Guggeheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
2011, Prince of Asturias Award in Social Sciences
Presently, Gardner serves as the Chairman of Steering Committee for Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education and as an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Harvard University (Cherry, n.d.).
Cherry, K. (n.d.). Psychology: Theories, Experiments, and Quizzes.
Howard Gardner Biography - Psychology
. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://psychology.about.co/od/profilesal/p/howard-gardner.htm
(n.d.). Howard Gardner| Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education / Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Howard Gardner
. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://howardgardner.com/biography/
Multiple Intelligences Theory
has greatly influenced educational thought and practice. This theory suggests that children are smart in many ways, based off of nine different intelligences that Gardner has identified (Morrison, 2014):

Visual/spatial - Learning visually and organizing ideas spatially.
Verbal/linguistic - Learning through the spoken and written word.
Mathematical/logical - Learning through reasoning and problem solving.
Bodily/kinesthetic - Learning through patterns, rhythms, and music.
Interpersonal - Learning through interaction with others.
Existential - Learning through a philosophical state of mind. Children question the "big" picture of existence. They ask questions like; "Why are we here?" and "What is my role in my family, school, and community?"
Interpersonal - Learning through feelings, values, and attitudes.
Naturalist - Learning through classification, categories, and hierarchies.
Teacher's Role (Morrison, 2014):

Visual/spatial - Provide a visually stimulating environment.
Verbal/linguistic - Introduce new vocabulary, opportunities to give speeches in front of the classroom, incorporate drama in teachings.
Mathematical/logical - Provide structure by announcing objectives at the beginning of an activity, encourage debates, incorporate puzzles into learning centers.
Bodily/kinesthetic - Provide hands on learning centers, incorporate movement to rhythm and music, allow opportunities for building and taking apart.
Musical/rhythmic - Work with pattern blocks, students should move to rhythm, play music while students are working.
Interpersonal - Allow interaction among students during learning tasks, include group work tasks, each member in the group has an assigned role.
Existential - Give an overview before beginning new directions; discuss the importance of topics in the classroom, school, and community; bring in outside resources to give insight on a topic.
Intrapersonal - Provide activities that offer learner choices, have students set personal goals in the classroom, include daily journal writing.
Naturalist - Use graphic organizers, utilize sorting and grouping tasks, build portfolios of student work.
Morrison, G. S. (2014).
Early Childhood Education Today
, 13th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://online.vitalsource.com/books/9781269980463/id/ch05lev1sec3
Self-actualization Theory
is based on the satisfaction of human needs, identifying self-actualization, or self-fulfillment, as the highest human need. Children and adults cannot achieve self-fulfillment until other basic needs are satisfied. These essential human needs are (Morrison, 2014):
Life essentials (food and water)
It is important to maintain healthy nutrition in order to be successful in school.
Safety and security
Children need to feel safe and secure in the classroom and at home in their personal lives.
The classroom must be structured in a way that is conducive to successful learning and offer the stability.
Belonging and love
A child needs to feel loved and like they belong at school and at home by their elders.
Affection is an important part of a child's life.
It's important for the teacher to have a good relationship with the child.
Achievement and prestige
Recognition and approval is important to build self-esteem in children.
Encouragement is the foundation of achievement and this will result in high self-esteem.
Aesthetic needs
Children appreciate and enjoy beauty.
The classroom and home should be physically attractive and pleasant.
It is good for the child to feel apart of the beauty by helping care for the beautiful things in the classroom.
Morrison, G. S. (2014).
Early Childhood Education Today
, 13th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://online.vitalsource.com/books/9781269980463/id/ch05lev3sec13
Vygotsky believed that social interaction was key to a child's development. He theorized that children's cognitive, linguistic, and social development is supported by and enhanced through social interaction. He proposed that beginning at birth, children seek out adults for social interaction and that development occurs through these ongoing interactions with caregivers and teachers (Morrison, 2014).
Zone of Proximal Development - area of development where each child can be led as a result of interactions with a more competent partner, adult or peer. This differentiates what a child can accomplish independently and what they can achieve with the help of a more competent person, such as; a teacher, adult, peer, brother, sister, parent, etc. The experiences children have influence their development (Morrison, 2014).
Social Interactions - Social interaction amongst students and teachers promotes learning. Engaging children in small groups supports thinking ang interaction. In conclusion, social interactions promote critical thinking and learning, as well as improving social and communication skills (Morrison, 2014).
Scaffolding - This defines assistance in the Zone of Proximal Development, which is an important part of teaching. This process enables children to complete tasks that they were unable to do independently by providing various types of support, guidance, or direction throughout the course of an activity (Morrison, 2014).
This is a gradual process of providing different levels of help throughout the duration of a task. At the beginning, the process should be concrete and visible, as a child masters the task, the teaacher slowly withdraws her help.
Communication and dialogue between teachers and children is very important for the learning process.
Morrison, G. S. (2014).
Early Childhood Education Today
, 13th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://online.vitalsource.com/books/978126998463/id/pg140
Erik H. Erikson engineered his theory of Psychosocial Developed based on the fact that cognitive and social development occur simultaneously and cannot be separated. Erikson believed that children's personalities and social skills growth and development is determined by society in response to its demands, expectations, values, and social institutions, such as families, schools, and child care programs. Parents and teachers play an important part of the environment and this can help or hinder children in their personality and cognitive development (Morrison, 2014).
Erikson's Stages:
Basic Trust Versus Mistrust: Birth to 18 months
Children learn to trust or mistrust their environment and their caregivers. Children develop attachments that are either secure or insecure depending on whether their needs are met consistently, predictably, and lovingly (Morrison, 2014).
Autonomy Versus Shame and Doubt: 18 months to 3 years
Given the opportunity to learn independence and competence, a child will thrive, but over protection results in self-doubt and a child will feel ashamed of their abilities. Children must learn to be self-sufficient (Morrison, 2014).
Initiative Versus Guilt: 3 to 5 years
Children need a chance to initiate activities and tasks independently in order to feel purposeful and accomplished. On the other hand, if they are not given this opportunity then they will feel guilty from being discouraged or prohibited (Morrison, 2014).
Industry Versus Inferiority: 5 to 8 years
It is important for a child to build upon productivity and be recognized for their work. Children will feel inferior if they are criticized or belittled if they aren't given the chance to be productive (Morrison, 2014).

Morrison, G. S. (2014).
Early Childhood Education Today
, 13th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://online.vitalsource.com/books/9781269980463/id/pg147

Morrison, G.S. (2014).
Early Childhood Education Today
, 13th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://online.vitalsource.com/books/9781269980463/id/ch05bx36
Urie Bronfenbrenner developed the Ecological Theory, which considers child development within the context of a system of relationships that form their environment. There are five environmental systems that influence each other (Morrison, 2014):

The Microsystem
This is the environment setting where children spend most of their time.
The Mesosystem
This is the connections with the microsystems in a child's environment. The interactions and influences they receive from their environment is connected to their success.
The Exosystem
The environmental system that children don't directly interact with, but can influence their development. Actions or events in a child's life which indirectly contributes to their development.
(Harvard Graduate School of Education, n.d.)
Urie Bronfenbrenner - Biography, Books and Theories
, n.d.)
Erik H. Erikson - Erikson Institute
, n.d.)
(Cherry, n.d.)
A Science Odyssey: People and Discoveries: Abraham Maslow
, 1998)
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