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Siblings: how do they affect each other's social and educational understanding and development?

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Siblings: how do they affect each other's social and educational understanding and development? "No psychologist is needed to point out the passion, fury and jealousy that is expressed so uninhibitedly by siblings" Approximately 80% of British people have a sibling or siblings, and they always seem to cause each other trouble. Anyone with siblings will know all about the fighting; stealing each others' toys and colouring books; kicking each other under the dinner table and quarrelling horribly in the back of the car on long trips. Think of Cain and Abel - they must have really irritated one another. And yet the sibling relationship is one of the most unique and intense relationships that any of us will ever experience due physical proximity and daily interactions during the younger years; the (normally) shared genetic and social heritage; the shared history of experiences within a family context - and it is one of the longest relationships that most people will have in their entire lives, be it harmonious or hellish. Siblings undoubtedly profoundly affect each other's social and educational perceptions through a number of factors that will be explored in this essay. König (1970) stated that "the temperament and the character of a person are determined by his family constellation" and conducted several studies on birth order (also known as ordinal position). He describes the first-born as adult orientated, conscientious and sensitive, possessing a desire to "conquer the world". In contrast, the second-born is typically difficult to motivate into work and lacks perseverance, either through their hopelessly placid and laid-back attitude, or their stubbornness and rebelliousness.

Middle

(Equally, the marble experiment may be criticised on the grounds of subjects being placed in a 'strange situation', that is an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar persons.) This calls into question teacher involvement in a classroom and illustrates the need to appreciate different encouragement and reward techniques. As has already been discussed, the first-born needs little encouragement to work and may become bitter at any lack of appraisal for their achievements; the second-born requires more encouragement but does not react in the same way to neither punishment nor reward, in that they are more passive and laid-back. Thus it is important for an educator to appreciate the required positive differential treatment for siblings, often according to their ordinal position, as well as the varying impacts a merit scheme may have on their students. (Naturally, it is also essential to avoid generalisation on birth order in respect to personality types!) From the conclusions already drawn on how siblings assist each other in becoming more socially competent (in terms of understanding others and heightened interaction; rivalry and sharing as well as prosocial behaviour and role modelling) and helping each other to learn, and the effects of having a sibling in a school environment - where does this leave the remaining 20% of Britain's population, who fall under the category of an only child? Are they socially and educationally defunct as a result of this lack of kin companionship? Where do they learn the skills that siblings learn from each other, and how do the social and educational outcomes differ, and why?

Conclusion

My boyfriend comes from a large family where, for most of his childhood, he was the youngest sibling. His eldest sister carried onto tertiary education: due to lack of motivation, he gave up on schooling after receiving his NVQ. His family then expanded by two younger sisters, who - perhaps as a result of the "large family, low academic ability" hypothesis - find themselves placed in 'bottom sets' for subjects and struggle with work. Do these personal experiences prove the psychologists' theories and researchers' studies stated throughout this essay? They certainly seem to follow through, but in regard to individuals in a classroom context, it can certainly be dangerous to generalise. There are so many different theories and studies that prove them that coming to a solid conclusion on just how siblings effect each other's social development and success in school and work is a constant debate. Nevertheless, I believe it worthwhile for educators to make themselves aware, to some extent, of the affects that a child's family background may have on them, and how best to deal with these affects in order to achieve effective motivation and classroom management strategies; to aid their social development and of course their academic successes. Words: 2, 527 1 Dunn and Kendrick, "Siblings" (1982) 2 that is, a person does not cease to exist once they disappear from view. 3 Sutton-Smith and Rosenberg (1970) and Feinman (1982) 4 Gilmore and Zigler (1964) 5 Sutton-Smith and Rosenberg (1970) 6 Laybourn (1994) 7 according to Ann Laybourn's book, "The Only Child" (1994) 8 Polit and Falbo (1987) 9 taken from my Primary 6 school report, 1994 [I1]Leading onto: Conformity and dependency 1 Anonymous Marking Number: Z0135371

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