Is the Life-Span Approach Essential to Human Development

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Human development has been a subject of interest among modern researchers. The most prominent theory in human development is the life-span approach which is made up of various concepts. This essay aims to show the importance of the life-span approach by analysing some of the concepts that make up this approach, such as multi-directionality historical location and contexualism among others. This essay will critically analyse some of the assumptions of the life-span approach. It will also examine arguments against the lifespan approach as well as other theories of human development such as Freud’s psychoanalytic theory with the aim of showing that this approach is essential for understanding human development. One of the major assumptions of the life-span approach as suggested by Baites, (1987) is that development is a ‘life-long process’ by this he meant that developmental changes occur throughout a person’s life, from the point of conception till death (Sugarman, 1986). (Baltes, (1987) went on to state that development as a life-long process assumes that, no point in a person’s developmental life is more important than the other, every period of a person’s life is equally important weather it is childhood or aging, they are all important periods of development though this assumption is in direct contradiction to other theorists of human development such as Freud who believed that development ends at childhood and that adulthood is an extended version of childhood and that aging is more of “loss in adaptive capacity” hence does not qualify to be put in the paradigms of development . This has constituted the gain and loss argument (Baltes, 1987). Research on intelligence has shown that other forms of intelligence which involving reviewing of one’s life and wisdom emerge in old age and these forms of intelligence are not ‘genetically wired from birth” as suggested by Freud and (Baltes, 1987). This goes to show that development is not restricted to certain periods of a person’s life but happens up until death; hence the life-span approach is essential in understanding human development. With the desire to proove the importance of the life-span approach in human development This essay will look at another assumption put forward by life-span theorists which state that development is malti-directional, (Baltes, 1987). This means that human development has different forms and differs in the routes that it takes thoughout the developmental process for example the presents of degenerative and growth abilities in a person (Stenberg, Bornstein, Yandell, & Rook, 2011). It has also been noted by Li & Freund, (2005) that development as viewed by the life-span theory is not a one way procces of accumulation but that some developmental aspect increase while others decline (Li & Freund, 2005). Research by (cattel and horn, 1982 ) shows that a person consits of two types of intelligance mamely fluid and crystalized intelligance. According to this research fluid intelligance showed a declining function as compared to cristalized which showed accumulation tendancies (Baltes, 1987) This evidence shows that development is not a one way procces but takes different directions and that includes both childhood development and aiging, reafirming the point made above that aiging also qualifies to be considered as being part of development. Also in southafrica it has been noted that due to the inaccesibility of adiquate health care by children during the apartheid some children were born with birth defects while others suffered from malnutrition and became disabled showing the different varyng trajectories that human development can take (Youth hearings, 1997). Therefore the presence of malti-directionality as a life-span concept helps us to understand the various dimentions and directions taken by development throghout a person’s life hence it earns its importance in understanding human development. The life-span approach again plays a very...
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