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TO WHAT EXTENT DO THE GRAND THEORIES TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE ROLE OF SOCIAL EXPERIENCES IN CHILD DEVELOPMENT?

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Introduction

TO WHAT EXTENT DO THE 'GRAND THEORIES' TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE ROLE OF SOCIAL EXPERIENCES IN CHILD DEVELOPMENT? Nowadays it is widely accepted that social context greatly influences a person's development in many aspects and throughout their lives. Developmental psychology aims to describe how children develop and its grand theories emerged to "offer general explanations of child development as a whole, rather than just certain areas" (Oates et al., 2005, p. 49). In this essay, the main elements of the four 'grand theories' of child development are discussed, exploring in more detail which aspects within the social experiences are explored by each grand theory. For the purpose of this essay, when discussing social experiences we will refer to any social aspect of human experience, including socio-cultural contexts and social relations and their products. Some of these experiences have been taken into account by the field of developmental psychology in order to study and investigate how children's minds and behaviour change throughout their lifespan. This field of study has produced many theories that propose hypothesis to explain different aspects of child development. Among these, four theories stand out and are sometimes referred to as 'grand theories': behaviourism, social learning theory, constructivism and social constructivism. ...read more.

Middle

However, he does not address children's cognitive processes in detail and describes children development as a process of learning new behaviours rather than a process of cognitive development. For that another theory is needed: constructivism. Constructivism is a theory proposed by Jean Piaget that describes cognitive development as progressive and constructive (Oates et al., 2005). It is progressive because it proposes that children go through four defined and ordered stages of cognitive development. It is constructive because it proposes that development is the child's own construction whereby the child develops and accumulates increasingly complex and abstract mental representations of his/her own world and experiences (schemas). They are constructed through the association of a child's experiences with their subsequent effects. In Piaget's theory different core concepts are associated with a given stage of development. In order to establish whether a child had progressed to the next developmental stage he designed experimental tasks linked to those core concepts. One of them was conservation i.e. understanding that a quantity (e.g. mass, volume, etc.) remains the same even if presented in different containers. In Piaget's experiments children up to the age of 6 or 7 think that quantity changes when for example water is transferred from one container to a different one e.g. ...read more.

Conclusion

Bandura, A. (1973) 'Reading B: Learning through modelling' in Oates, Wood and Grayson (2005) p. 87-88 Psychological Development and Early Childhood, Oxford, Balckwell/The Open University. Crain, W.C. (2000) cited in Oates, Wood and Grayson (2005) p. 59 Psychological Development and Early Childhood, Oxford, Balckwell/The Open University. Donaldson, M. (1978) cited in Oates, Wood and Grayson (2005) p. 69 Psychological Development and Early Childhood, Oxford, Balckwell/The Open University. Huesmann, L. R., Moise, J., Podolski, C. P. And Eron, L.D. (2003) cited in Oates, Wood and Grayson (2005) p. 57 Psychological Development and Early Childhood, Oxford, Balckwell/The Open University. Light, P. H., Buckinham, N. and Robbins, H. (1979) cited in Oates, Wood and Grayson (2005) p. 69 Psychological Development and Early Childhood, Oxford, Balckwell/The Open University. Oates, J., Wood C. and Grayson A. (2005) Psychological Development and Early Childhood, Oxford, Balckwell/The Open University. Skinner, B. F. (1938) cited in Oates, Wood and Grayson (2005) p. 56 Psychological Development and Early Childhood, Oxford, Balckwell/The Open University. Vygotsky, L. (1978) in Oates, Wood and Grayson (2005) p. 72 Psychological Development and Early Childhood, Oxford, Balckwell/The Open University. Vygotsky, L. (1986) 'Reading C: Egocentric speech' in Oates, Wood and Grayson (2005) p. 87-88 Psychological Development and Early Childhood, Oxford, Balckwell/The Open University. Watson, J.B. (1924) cited in Oates, Wood and Grayson (2005) p. 52-53 Psychological Development and Early Childhood, Oxford, Balckwell/The Open University. ...read more.

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