Chapter 17 Epilogue: Fitting the Pieces Together
One year from now, we may find that we have forgotten more than 50 % of what learned from this class. • What’s important is the big picture and major principles which we can use in the future.
Human Development is a Holistic Enterprise • Human Development is truly holistic • In a developing infant, physical, cognitive, social and emotional development all function together. • One cannot function independently
An example of this is an infant that develops cognitive schemes for familiar faces and discriminates unfamiliar ones. • She has also developed motor capabilities that permit her to crawl to her attachment objects. • She protests separation form loved ones because of object permanence.
We are Active Contributors to Our Own Development • Early developmental theorists viewed humans as passive: A tabulae rasae (Watson, Locke) • Piaget altered this view by emphasizing how children actively explore their environments and actively construct new understandings of objects, events and people they encounter.
Bandura claimed that children actively influence how they are treated by their parents. • Behavioral geneticists argue that we actively select environments we are comfortable with because they are compatible with our own genetic predispositions.
In fact, it is the ongoing transaction between an active person and a changing environment, each influencing the other in a reciprocal way, that steers development.
Continuity and Discontinuity in Development • Is development stage like, or does it occur in small, orderly steps? • Advances in cognitive and moral development occur gradually. • Transitions from one stage to another do not unfold abruptly. • Environment plays a large role in how children progress through development.
Looking at population trends, development often seems continuous, with earlier development predicting later life outcomes. • Yet it is risky to predict characterological traits which an individual adult will display from a knowledge of his/her childhood traits.
There is Much Plasticity in Human Development • Human beings are resilient organisms who display a remarkable capacity to change in response to experience. • Early experiences rarely make or break us. • There are opportunities throughout life to undo damage done by early traumas and to redirect young lives along better paths.
The Nature/Nurture Distinction is a False Dichotomy • The Nature vs. Nurture issue has been resolved. • It is known that both forces play a role in development: from changes in cell chemistry to changes in the global economy. • Genes and environment interact
We also actively seek out experiences which are most compatible with our genetically influenced character. • At the same time, our environments can influence the course of biological development • “Biology and environment are as inseparable as conjoined twins who share a common heart” (Diane Halpern, 1997).
Both Normative and Idiosyncratic Developments are Important • While we all share normative aspects of development, we also display unique, idiosyncratic patterns of development. • Most infants worldwide proceed through predictable sequences of development. • Yet late in toddlerhood, our genetic endowments begin to express themselves more fully.
No child should be expected to emerge as a copy of their parents or siblings. • Development always proceeds in normative and idiosyncratic directions. • Such diversity is even adaptive from an evolutionary perspective.
In order to really understand development, we must recognize and appreciate developmental diversities and must seek to understand the forces that underlie both the normative and the idiosyncratic changes that children and adolescents display.
We Develop in A Cultural and Historical Context • Children and Adolescents are embedded in a socio-cultural context that affects their development. • Each person’s development is influenced by social changes and historical events occurring during his/her life time.
Development is Best Viewed From Multiple Perspectives • The task of understanding some thing as complex as human development requires that we take an eclectic approach. • Many theories have something to offer. • Our knowledge is always enriched by integrating the contributions of researchers from many disciplines and diverse viewpoints.
Behavioral geneticists have helped us understand how genes and hormones influence our behavior. • Psychologists have explained relationships and family systems that influence children. • Sociologists and economists have taught us much about the sociocultural context in which we develop.
Patterns of Parenting (and Adult Guidance) Clearly Matter • Some theorist claim that parenting styles really don’t matter. • Given an average home, children will display normal developmental outcomes regardless of child-rearing practices. • However, patterns of parenting do matter
Children Need Love, Guidance,…and Limits • Different child-rearing and practices can produce very large differences in children’s developmental outcome. • The most effective pattern of parenting is authoritative. • It is characterized by provision of standards for children to live up to, reasonable limitations, and love.
“Indigenous patterns of child care throughout the world represent largely successful adaptations to conditions of life that have long differed from one people to another. Adults are good parents by the only relevant standards, those of their own culture (Louis, Laoga, 1981).”
Parents Must Themselves Be Adaptable • Raising a child successfully is hard work. • What works for one, may not work for another. • Favorable outcomes are more likely to result when parents successfully adapt to their child. • Need to create a goodness of fit between parenting practices and child’s unique characteristics.
Many Social Forces Conspire to Shape Development • Although the family may be the primary agent of socialization, each of us is exposed to a variety of extra familial contexts and experiences that can play a major part in shaping our personalities and social behaviors. • TV, personal computers, peers, schools
Society of one’s peers is an important developmental context for acquiring social skills, cooperation and teamwork, healthy attitudes about competition, a sense of identity and self-esteem. • A sense of belongingness emerges from these newly formed relationships.
We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby… • As we enter the 21st century, there is no doubt that the field of human development is an extremely dynamic one. • This knowledge we have acquired will definitely make us observe ourselves and others closer • This will help us steer our lives and others’ in healthier directions.