Theoretical Perspectives Overview

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  • It is important to examine adolescent development from different theoretical perspectives. In combination they offer a good explanation of a child’s behavior. We will begin our course with a brief overview of these theories. We know that knowing students well is our key to successfully teaching them so that is our goal for this course! See pg. xi in text.
  • Page 21 in red text
  • Biological theories emphasizes the importance in development of heredity and maturation, especially as manifested during puberty. These theories assume that human characteristics unfold according to a biological timetable. The environment plays little role in shaping the course of development. Theorists include Rousseau, Hall and Gessell. They concluded that there are innate timetables that dictate when new behaviors and abilities will emerge. They also introduced the concept of readiness. Learning could only occur if a child was biologically ready.
  • The psychodynamic models describe how sexual and other unconscious impulses lead to family conflict, which in turn motivates adolescents to become more self-sufficient. They focus on changes in the self and personality. At different stages of physical development, new drives, needs and conflicts emerge that influence the way children relate to the environment.. Sigmund Freud: Theory that offers a “storm and stress” view of adolescence, emphasizing the role that family conflict and sexual tension play in motivating adolescent behavior – a psychological reaction to puberty – separating from parents and establishing their own lives.Psychosocial Models: emphasize the interplay between individual and social factors. They maintain that adolescent development is best understood in terms of specific crises or developmental tasks that adolescents face such as creating an adult identity or acquiring prosocial values.Erik Erikson – at each stage of life individuals face distinctive developmental tasks, conflicts, and challenges – 8 stages in lifetime (1 specifically for adolescence – Identity vs identity diffusion – will adolescent create a satisfying adult identity or lack direction)
  • Emphasize the role of the environment in determining the course of development. Development is gradual and continuous, as a child aquires new skills and behavior through various principles of learning (such as conditioning, reinforcement, imitation) In these theories, children have a more passive role in the developmental process, as they simply respond to environmental inputs. Well known behavioral theorists are Watson and Skinner.
  • Existential Models: describe what it feels like to be an adolescent and highlight adolescents’ search for meaning in their lives.Abraham Maslow & Carl Rogers – view persons as complete thinking and feeling individuals with enormous potential for growth rather than as just a collection of behaviors, stages, or domains of development – Free Will – ability to make choices. As you recall, Maslow is also known for his theory on Hierarchy of Needs.
  • Contextual theories focus on the influence of social and cultural context on children’s development. The assume a child has a active role in shaping his/her own development. These theories explain that there are multiple levels of influence into account, ranging from an adolescent’s immediate family environment to peer, school, community, and cultural influence.Brofenbrenner proposed that children’s development is embedded in multiple environments. For instance, changes in one system can influence changes that occur in another system. So if a child’s parents divorce, that child may lose interest in schoolwork. In Vygotsky’s theory, people structure the environment in ways that facilitate children’s cognitive development. The zone of proximal development is an important element of his theory. .Lev Vygotsky: cognitive socialization approach focuses on social and instructional interactions in shaping cognitive structures – teacher as facilitator involves student in learning process – language is a tool in teaching. Vygotsky’s ideas along with Piaget’s have made a huge impact upon on our education system, and the middle school concept is supported by both of their theories.
  • Cognitive Model: describes the sophisticated thinking and reasoning abilities that emerge during adolescence and the crucial role that these abilities play in the formation of adolescent self-concept, identity, and relationships. The Constructivist approach emphasizes that children must construct their own understanding of the world in which they live. Jean Piaget: How we know the world changes over the course of childhood and adolescence. How we know the world has an enormous impact on our self-concept, behavior, and emotional life. Piaget divided cognitive development into 4 distinct stages. Sensorimotor is identified by the active child and is from birth to around 2 years oldPreoperations is the intuititive child typically from 2-7 years oldThe last 2 are stages that middle school teachers particularly need to be aware of:Concrete operations (ages 7-11) and Formal Operations (11-15) It is during these stages that children begin thinking logically and even abstractly. They begin to wonder why and then even are able to hypothesize. We will learn more about these stages in this course.According to Piaget children actively seek out information about their environment and attempt to make sense of it using existing knowledge and cognitive processes. This includes information about schema, assimilation and accommodation that we will study in this course.
  • There are obviously many perspectives on children’s development. I have just touched on a few of them. It is important to recognize that no one theory can fully explain children. It is important for teachers to acquire a repetroire of different theories. Once we can better understand adolescents, we can discover how to best educate them.
  • Theoretical Perspectives Overview

    1. 1. CE 539Adolescent Development
    2. 2. Nature vs. Nurture Stability vs. PlasticityContinuity vs. Discontinuity Passive vs. Active Child Endpoint vs. no endpoint
    3. 3. Emphasizes the importance indevelopment of heredity andmaturation, especially asmanifested during puberty. Jean-Jacques Rousseau Arnold Gesell
    4. 4. Psychodynamic Models: describes how sexual and other unconscious impulses lead to family conflict, which in turn motivates adolescents to become more self-sufficient. Sigmund FreudPsychosocial Models: emphasize the interplay between individual and social factors. They maintain that adolescent development is best understood in terms of specific crises or developmental tasks that adolescents face such as creating an adult identity or acquiring prosocial values. Erik Erikson
    5. 5. Emphasize the role of theenvironment in determining thecourse of development. Watson Skinner
    6. 6. Existential Models: describe what it feels like to be an adolescent and highlight adolescents’ search for meaning in their lives. Abraham Maslow Carl Rogers
    7. 7. Focuses on the influence of social and cultural context on children’s development. Vygotsky Bronfenbrenner
    8. 8. Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development helps make up the Constructivist Approach. Stages of Cognitive Development * Sensorimotor * Preoperations * Concrete Operations * Formal Operations  Schema  Assimilation  Accommodation
    9. 9. Adolescence By Michael L. Jaffe Chapter 1 – 2 : Table 2-4 Page 62 Child & Adolescent Development for Educators By Juidith L. Meece and Denise H. Daniels Chapter 1Coming of Age: The Education & Development of Young Adolescents By Kenneth Brighton Chapter 1

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