Jean Piaget was a Swiss biologist, philosopher, and psychologist best known for his work in the area of developmental psychology. Piaget's focus was on the intellectual or cognitive development of children and on the way in which their mind's processed and progressed in knowledge. Piaget's central thesis was
that children develop self-centric theories about their environment, and about objects or persons in that environment, and they grow that children base these theories on their own personal experiences interacting with persons and objects in their environment that the child used "schemas" to master and gain information about the environment that the sophistication of a child's cognitive structures increased as the child grew and developed, as did the child's "schemas". Schemas, which are the child's tool bag of actions and responses to make things happen, start with basic interactions such as grabbing and mouthing objects and eventually progress to highly sophisticated skills such as scientific observation. Piaget divided the child's path of development into four stages which began with birth and culminated in the teen years. These stages are:
Sensorimotor stage (0-2 yrs)
Child interacts with environment through physical actions (sucking, pushing, grabbing, shaking, etc.) These interactions build the child's cognitive structures about the world and how it functions or responds. Object permanence is discovered (things still exist while out of view). Preoperational stage (2-7 yrs)
Child is not yet able to form abstract conceptions, must have hands-on experiences and visual representations in order to form basic conclusions. Typically, experiences must occur repeatedly before the child grasps the cause and effect connection. Concrete operations (7-11 yrs)
Child is developing considerable knowledge base from physical experiences. Child begins to draw on this knowledge base to make more sophisticated explanations and predictions. Child begins to do some abstract problem solving such as mental math and still understands best when educational material refers to real life situations. Formal operations (from 11-15 and up)
Child's knowledge base and cognitive structures are much more similar to those of an adult. Ability for abstract thought increases significantly. A chief principle of Piaget's theory is that these stages do not vary in order, cannot be skipped, and should not be rushed. As a young man he attended the University of Neuchâtel where he received a degree in zoology in 1918. He then studied psychology in Zürich. Although Piaget did not focus on how to apply his theories within education, we do know that he advocated creative learning situations, or what is now referred to as "hands on, interactive."
B.F. Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning is probably the most commonly used theory in practice in early year’s settings. Skinner suggested that people draw conclusions based on the consequences of their behaviour when exploring the environment. He divided the consequences into three areas. The first area being positive reinforces where people are likely to get something they desire if they repeat a certain behaviour. He suggested that this was the most effective way to encourage new learning. This can be seen in early years settings where by children are rewarded for good behaviour like receiving lots of praise, attention, stickers or treats. This will help children to carry on showing good behaviour until such a time when it is learned. Second is negative reinforces which are used to stop something from happening but the behaviour is also likely to repeated. Just like when a child is going down a slide but doesn’t like going fast so they use their hands on the sides to slow themselves down. The third is punishers, which is a behaviour that you learn to stop doing e.g. if you receive a shock from an electric fence then you learn to stay away from it. Skinner also found that there are unexpected positive reinforces such as when a child behaves badly just to get the attention of their carer. Once they get the attention even if they are scolded they will repeat the bad behaviour to get the carers attention again because getting the attention is the reward. Sometimes it is better to ignore bad behaviour unless the child is doing something that could harm themself.
John Broadus Watson was one of the most controversial leading figures in American psychology. A pioneer in behaviourism, Watson wrote accessible books promoting the behaviourist agenda that garnered considerable public attention. The cornerstone of behaviourist psychology was the view that behaviour should be studied as a product of objectively observable external events instead of appealing to internal processes of the mind. Watson quickly became disillusioned with the technique of introspection (or looking inward) that was in vogue in academic psychology around the turn of the 20th century. This experience prompted him to conduct research using animal subjects. Although his first book focused on animal research, Watson believed that the objective science of behaviour demonstrated in animal experiments could also be applied to human subjects. After his military service in World War I, he began research on infants. According to Watson, infants come into the world with only three basic emotions that are triggered by predictable situations. Fear is produced by loud noises. Anger is elicited by interfering with an infant's freedom of mobility. Love is produced by stroking of the skin, rocking, and petting. He believed that although the behaviour of new-born infants was dominated by inbuilt (or unconditioned) reflexes, these responses could be altered through Pavlovian conditioning allowing personality differences to emerge. Little Albert experiment:
A typical demonstration of Watson's theory of behavioural development is provided by the case of Little Albert, an 11-month-old baby who was conditioned to fear a white rat in an experiment that would be considered extremely unethical if it were conducted today. In the initial test, Albert showed no fear of the rat whatever. During conditioning trials, a loud noise was produced while the rat was present. Before long, the mere sight of the rat was enough to make Albert burst into tears. Moreover, the fear generalized to other white objects, such as a white rabbit, Santa Claus whiskers, and a white fur coat. Even though this constituted only a pilot study, exhibited serious procedural problems such as the lack of a control subject, and has never been successfully replicated, it is repeated uncritically in virtually every introductory psychology textbook to this day. Watson's claims about the role of conditioning in behavioural development were exaggerated. He created a mountain of speculation out of a pile of evidence. Watson was an outstanding populariser and advocate for his point of view. This is illustrated most clearly in his celebrated dictum: "Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant chief, and yes, even beggar-man thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors". The confidence that Watson expresses in the limitless flexibility of human behaviour has very little to do with the results of his research and has a great deal to do with the democratic spirit, and wealth of the America in which he lived. In fact, given that no one was likely to volunteer their well-formed healthy infant for Watson's experiment, his statement reduces to a purely rhetorical gesture that has nothing to do with science.
Ivan Pavlov made an extreme impact on behaviourist theorists through his well-known experiment on the process of salivation by dogs. Pavlov discovered that he could teach the dog to salivate when he presented a tone where food was accessible, and eventually the dog would salivate when the tone was presented even though, on occasions, the food was unavailable. As a result, the tone became the conditioned stimulus and the salivation became the conditioned response. Pavlov (1902) started from the idea that there are some things that a dog does not need to learn. For example, dogs don’t learn to salivate whenever they see food. This reflex is ‘hard wired’ into the dog. In behaviourist terms, it is an unconditioned response (i.e. a stimulus-response connection that required no learning). In behaviourist terms, we write: Unconditioned Stimulus (Food) > Unconditioned Response (Salivate) Pavlov showed the existence of the unconditioned response by presenting a dog with a bowl of food and the measuring its salivary secretions.
However, when Pavlov discovered that any object or event which the dogs learnt to associate with food (such as the lab assistant) would trigger the same response, he realized that he had made an important scientific discovery, and he devoted the rest of his career to studying this type of learning. Pavlov knew that somehow, the dogs in his lab had learned to associate food with his lab assistant. This must have been learned, because at one point the dogs did not do it, and there came a point where they started, so their behaviour had changed. A change in behaviour of this type must be the result of learning. In behaviourist terms, the lab assistant was originally a neutral stimulus. It is called neutral because it produces no response. What had happened was that the neutral stimulus (the lab assistant) had become associated with an unconditioned stimulus (food). In his experiment, Pavlov used a bell as his neutral stimulus. Whenever he gave food to his dogs, he also rang a bell. After a number of repeats of this procedure, he tried the bell on its own. As you might expect, the bell on its own now caused an increase in salivation. So the dog had learned an association between the bell and the food and a new behaviour had been learnt. Because this response was learned (or conditioned), it is called a conditioned response. The neutral stimulus has become a conditioned stimulus. Freud
According to Sigmund Freud, the key to a healthy personality is a balance between the Id, the Ego and the Superego. The Id, the Ego and the Superego are three theoretical constructs, in terms of whose activity and interactions, the mental life can be described and complex human behaviours formed. Hence, these three components of the personality structure are functions of the mind rather than parts of the brain. The Id
According to Freud, the Id is the only component of the personality structure that is present from birth. This side of personality is entirely unconscious and includes all the instinctive and primitive behaviours, hence allowing us to get our basic needs met as new-borns. Freud believed that the Id is ruled by the pleasure principle. This driving force seeks immediate gratification of all needs, wants and urges. In other words, the Id wants whatever feels good at the time, with no reality of the situation.
Even if the Id is very important for new-borns, to immediately satisfy some of the Id’s needs and desires in the long run, is not always possible. That is why within the next three years, as a child starts to interact more with his/her environment, the second part of the personality begins to develop. The Ego is based on the reality principle. The Ego understands that other people have needs and desires and that sometimes being impulsive or selfish can eventually hurt us. Therefore, the Ego strives to achieve the Id’s desires in both realistic and socially appropriate ways. The reality principle weighs the costs and benefits of an action before deciding to act upon or abandon impulses. In many cases, the Id's impulses can be satisfied through a process of delayed gratification meaning that, the Ego will eventually allow the behaviour, but only in the appropriate time and place. The Ego functions in the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious mind. The Superego
By the age of five the Superego develops. It develops due to the moral and ethical restraints placed on us by our caregivers. The Superego provides guidelines for making judgments.
The Superego can be divided into two parts:
The Ego Ideal includes the rules and standards for good behaviours. These behaviours include those which are approved of, by parental and other authority figures. Obeying these rules leads to feelings of pride, value and accomplishment. The Conscience includes information about things that are viewed as bad by parents and society. These behaviours are often forbidden and lead to bad consequences, punishments or feelings of guilt and remorse. The Superego acts to perfect and civilise our behaviour. It works to suppress all unacceptable urges of the Id and struggles to make the Ego act upon idealistic standards rather that upon realistic principles. The Superego is present in the conscious, preconscious and unconscious mind.
The interaction of the Id, the Ego and the Superego
With so many competing forces, it is easy to see how conflict might arise between the Id, the Ego and the Superego. Freud used the term Ego Strength to refer to the Ego's ability to function despite these duelling forces. If there is a misbalance between the three components, the Ego Strength can become too unyielding or too disrupting. For example, if:
Id too strong, individual is bound up in self-gratification and uncaring to others. Ego too strong, individual is extremely rational and efficient, but cold, boring and distant. Superego too strong, individual feels guilty all the time and may even have an insufferably saintly personality. On the other hand, an individual with a good Ego Strength is able to effectively manage these pressures. The Id, Ego, Superego structure of mind complements Freud’s structural model of the conscious, preconscious and unconscious.
The Bobo doll experiment was conducted by Albert Bandura in 1961 and studied patterns of behaviour associated with aggression. Bandura hoped that the experiment would prove that aggression can be explained, at least in part, by social learning theory. The theory of social learning would state that behaviour such as aggression is learned through observing and imitating others. The experiment is important because it sparked many more studies about the effects that viewing violence had on children. Method
In this experiment three groups of children saw a film which showed the adult attacking an inflatable doll with a stick. The doll was thrown across the room, sat on, punched and kicked. Bandura provided three alternative endings to the film: Group A – Saw only the doll being hit
Group B – Saw the adult being praised and rewarded for hitting the doll Group C – Saw the adult being punished for hitting the doll. When the children had seen the film, they were given the same doll. Bandura observed their behaviour which showed that groups A and B imitated the aggressive behaviour they had witnessed, while group C were less aggressive. Results
Bandura found that the children exposed to the aggressive model were more likely to act in physically aggressive ways than those who were not exposed to the aggressive model. The results concerning gender differences strongly supported Bandura's prediction that children are more influenced by same-sex models. Boys exhibited more aggression when exposed to aggressive male models than boys exposed to aggressive female models. Bandura also found that the children exposed to the aggressive model were more likely to act in verbally aggressive ways than those who were not exposed to the aggressive model. The experimenters came to the conclusion that children observing adult behaviour are influenced to think that this type of behaviour is acceptable thus weakening the child's aggressive inhibitions. The result of reduced aggressive inhibitions in children means that they are more likely to respond to future situations in a more aggressive manner. Lastly, the evidence strongly supports that males have a tendency to be more aggressive than females.
Abraham Maslow developed a humanistic approach to create a theory of human needs which is relevant to all ages, not just for children. He described five levels of need- physical, safety, social, self-esteem, creativity – and proposed that each level must be met before progressing to the next level. It is difficult to reach one’s full potential unless the lower level needs have been met.
Self-actualisation – once you have all the ‘lower order’ needs meet you can progress towards fulfilment of potential, pursuit of knowledge, peace, creativity and morality Esteem – self-esteem, self-respect, accomplishment, respect of others Love/Belonging – Family, friends, love and intimacy
Safety needs – living in a safe area, employment, security of home and family. (Mostly psychological) Physiological needs – very basic needs required to sustain life e.g., air, water, food sleep. Looking from a Maslow perspective if a child or young person’s needs are not met for example, on the lower end not fed and given proper warmth and shelter they will be unable to move up the pyramid. Social pedagogy
Social pedagogy is concerned with well-being, learning and growth. This is underpinned by humanistic values and principles which view people as active and resourceful agents highlighting the importance of including them into the wider community, and aim to tackle or prevent social problems and inequality. Social pedagogy uses the holistic approach to education in the broadest sense, the centrality of relationships, and the use of observation and reflection as a tool for continuous development of all that are included in the pedagogic process. It uses various main elements that form part of social pedagogy, and each of them is underpinned in its significance by theory and research. This makes it helpful to apply theory to practice. Social pedagogy aims to provide nurturing conditions that support children's growth in both directions, towards independence and interdependence. Social pedagogy is about the holistic wellbeing and education and this is a shared responsibility between parents and the society as a whole. It also develops children and young people’s knowledge of what is expected of them as an individual. This helps them gain skills that they want to achieve, coping with emotions and also physical skills. This is put in to place to learn children and young people on how to become a valued member of society. Social Pedagogy can support children’s development by helping children and young people to take more risks in life as this is a way of helping them to develop their judgement and also how to test boundaries. Social Pedagogy also helps to remove any barriers in stopping the child’s development to decrease, or not be as developed as other children, helping the child to understand more complex things and also helps to increase social interactions and communication, giving the child confidence within themselves.