Nature Vs. Nurture
For centuries psychologists have argued over which plays the larger role in child development, heredity or environment. One of the first theories was proposed in the seventeenth century by the British philosopher John Locke. Locke believed that a child was born with an empty mind, tabula rasa (meaning "blank slate") and that everything the child learns comes from experience, nothing is established beforehand. Years later, Charles Darwin brought forth his theory of evolution, which led to a return of the hereditarian viewpoint. With the twentieth century, however, came the rise of behaviorism. Behaviorists, like John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner, argued that a child can be made into any kind of person, regardless of their heredity. Today, most psychologists agree that both nature (genes) and nurture (environment) play an important role, not independently, but as they interact together (Atkinson, p. 72). One of the most important factors believed to influence a child are parents. Parents are known to share a distinctive bond with their children. This special bond is what enables parents to shape their children. Whether it is into free-willed adolescents, ready to challenge any controversy, or into caring adults willing to spend the seventy cents a day to save a poverty stricken child. Parents have the power to mold their children. Setting firm, yet sensible, guidelines teaches children discipline and good behavior. Using physical abuse produces aggressive children, but having patience and understanding leaves a child better capable to handle stress in later years. How parents raise their children influences how they will turn out (Begley, p. 53). Surprisingly, a new debate is taking place. As the author of The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do; Parents Matter Less Than You Think and Peers Matter More, Judith Rich Harris argues that parents have absolutely no say in what kind of children they raise. She claims that...
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