Educational Development Theories

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Application of Educational Development Theories:
A Case Study

October 26, 2010

Understanding human development is considered the key towards maximizing the potentials of every student in the classroom. Developments in various fields, such anthropology, psychology, and biology have contributed largely to reinventing education in the last century. Research is given a central role in shaping “children’s education and experiences in schools” (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 4). The advances in related fields and the increasing support from research have prompted educators to be reflective and evaluative about pedagogy and curriculum in an effort to ensure that the best learning environment is provided. In short, teachers now have comprehensive tools to guarantee that no child is left behind.

Any child that sets foot into the classroom carries with him/her a myriad of experiences and background; thus, making it essential to perceive the child in relation to the systems and dynamics that surround him/her. “All areas of development depend on the context of children’s lives—children’s experiences in families, schools, neighborhoods, community organizations, cultural and ethnic groups, and society at large” (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 5). Learning does not happen in isolation and it is how these various contexts that play out during developmental years that significantly affect his/her experiences in school.

To illustrate the impact of context to development a case study is presented in this paper of an eight year old child, Tonya, attending first grade. After a discussion of the student’s classroom behavior, the developmental milestones for her age will be presented. These stages of development will be contextualized with the socio-cultural background of the student. Having created a picture of the circumstances of the student, I will then propose an analysis of the situation of the student drawing from educational development theories. Ethical considerations for the case study will then be discussed, followed by recommendations to improve the schooling and learning outcomes of the student.

Tonya literally stood out in her class, not only because she was big for her age, but also because she was older than the rest of the class having been retained in kindergarten. At eight years old, she was attending a first grade class. Tonya was observed to display disruptive behaviors such as bossing and bullying other children, stealing items from others, or talking them into trading their things (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010). The teacher received complaints from both students and parents that she was also stealing food from her classmate’s lunchboxes. Tonya’s behavior can be described as atypical for other children of her age, and required serious attention.

The period from six to ten years old is often referred to as middle childhood. There is continued differentiation of fine motor skills, although the growth in height and weight slows down and only picks up later on during the adolescent stage. Development of fine motor skills is reflected in illustrations that are “organized and detailed and include some depth cues” (Berk, 2009, p. 7). Moreover, such developments allowed for wider range of activities in play, sports and household chores. Often, parents start to build responsibility among their children by assigning them chores at home such as cooking, cleaning, and looking after their siblings.

Middle childhood is also a period of active neural developments that manifest in increasing integration of cognitive processes. They are learning to read and write, as well as perform basic mathematical computations (i.e. addition and subtraction). In addition, they are beginning to express themselves creatively. There is also a marked improvement in verbal expressions, and are becoming more aware of the concept of rules with peers and parents. Thus, they are learning to grasp the concepts of cause and effect better.

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