To what extent has children's development been seen as a social process?

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TMA 1 Option 1 To what extent has children's development been seen as a social process? The process of children's development changes depending on culture, personal or society's perspectives. This has been a continuous occurrence throughout history. Childhood is a social category and it defines activities they undertake or experiences they have at different times in their lives. Childhood also gives children their role and status within our community. The circumstances in which children grow up, the people they interact with and the beliefs and attitudes of those people can influence the way children develop to a certain degree. Four different lines of argument for children's development: development as control and discipline, development as natural stages, development as experience, and development as interaction can be looked at to conclude whether a child's development is predominantly a natural process of maturation, a result of environmental influences or is it an interaction between the two. Whether childhood is a recent invention has been a fiercely debated issue through history. Phillipe Ariès was a historian who argued that "children were regarded as miniature adults" (Woodhead, 2005, p.18)


Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher, expanded on this view of a child's natural action to commit acts of sin which needed to be curtailed through thorough discipline. In the beginning of the nineteenth century this view was voiced by Hannah More - she believed that children should not be thought of as innocent but as human beings that are born with a natural evil inside them. Education was the answer to correcting this evil nature that children were born with (Woodhead, 2005, p 30). Theorists believed that children's nature was a very powerful thing and the way they act is predominantly down to natural impulses. Sigmund Freud believed that these impulses could only be controlled through developing the child's conscience which is carried out via the parent. The extent of children's development through control and discipline is something which may be effective while a child is in its early years and also as they transition through various stages. Contemplating that control and discipline is the most important factor in a child's development should be considered naïve as external sources are going to affect how well these techniques work within different cultures.


watering crops (Woodhead, 2005, p. 45). If a child in a wealthier country was watering plants in the garden it would be merely seen as a play activity. In a nursery, watering plants would be a learning activity for children related to hand and eye co-ordination. This framework shows how the same activity in three different contexts can be understood very differently dependent on situation and interaction with the environment or the people they come into contact with. In conclusion, children's development is a social process to a great extent but many issues contribute to how the development progresses such as location, a child's opportunity to play, culture, an individual's beliefs, the era they live in, along with many others. The social process of development in a child is dominant in Western cultures as children have more opportunities to be a 'normal child' with time for play, interacting, and exploring. Development as control and discipline and development as natural stages are quite narrow minded and don't give much scope to the external factors that would affect a child's development. These factors are important to remember as customs in different cultures mean that they give priority to other elements of child development before they turn their attention to what we would consider priority for a child's development.

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