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Developmental Psychology Academic Essay

Developmental Psychology Academic Essay

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Developmental PsychologyAcademic EssayDominic Ward
Given that we all experience our lives differently, can normative development exist? Normative development, as a concept, is a strange creature. Initially, there is acompelling logic to the idea that there are observable milestones that define normal, or average, development. A milestone is after all simply a chronologically significantachievement; non-achievement of certain critical milestones is often thought to be anindication of abnormal development. Yet, on closer consideration, much of this façadefalls away at an instant. After all, what is ‘normal’? What is truly even understood bythis term? That no two individuals express the same self begs the question: by normativedevelopment, is it really only meant that which is socially appropriate? Or is it yetsomething else entirely? It will be the objective of this essay to argue that normativedevelopment does exist and is best understand under the terms defined by a bio-ecological theory of development. Furthermore, it will be proposed that there are threedistinct elements observable in the developmental process, all of which can be explained by bio-ecological theory. In fulfilling this aim, firstly, a review of the concept of normative development will be presented, by way of setting an overall tone for the study.Within the context of this review, the three key elements of the developmental processwill be discussed, in order of presentation: p
hysical norms; age norms; and the growth of the will.
Following this will be an in-depth examination of the bio-ecological viewthrough the vehicle of a case study. This case study should serve as a proving ground for 
 
the ideas to be propounded within this essay. Supplementarily, a third section to theessay will provide a detailed report into the conclusions and possible ramificationsindicated by the critique of theory through the vehicle of the case study, making thenfinal recommendations for the resolution of the issues of normative development. It ishoped that through this essay, it might be shown that there is a place in counselling for the concept of normative development.Much has been written about the physical milestones or norms. Most new parentsunderstand that their newborns will develop strength in their necks at around threemonths, crawl sometime around six to eight months, begin walking and talking at aroundtwelve months, develop their full adult immune capacity around six years of age, stopgrowing in height by the time they are twenty (perhaps a little younger for girls), outlivethem, eventually dying around the ages of 76 for men and 81 for women (Sigelman,2009). The chronology for all of these milestones described represents the average. Thatis, for example, a majority of babies begin to walk and say their first meaningful wordsaround the age of twelve months. That a baby may be a month early or late in achievingthese milestones is largely beside the point; from the point of view of statistics, anyadditional data will only further reinforce the average, whether that average is mobile or static.That brings the discussion to
age norms
, socially prescribed milestones that fit a larger cultural definition of what it means to develop through the life. As there are specific physical milestones that indicate the health of the body, so there are societal norms, age-
 
 based, that define expectations of behaviour and responsibilities, and therefore indicatethe health of psyche. In current western culture (whatever is really meant by this), it isrecognised that, for example, at age 6 or thereabouts, a child will be ready to beginschooling. Similarly, at age 17, society deems an adolescent capable of driving a car.Then at 18, the right to vote and drink alcohol among other things is ordained; theindividual at this birthday legally becomes an adult and his or her parents are legallyabsolved of all responsibility to and for him or her. All human cultures have readilyobservable and demonstrable age norms. Unlike physical norms which are individual-specific, age norms typically describe a milestone that will be achieved uniformly by allindividuals of that society at that exact age. In this way, age norms can elicit a negativeexperience in those members of a society who lacks the means, for whatever reason, tofulfil them adequately. Much angst and alienation may be the result of this. Positiveachievement, obviously, will have the reverse affect, instilling a feeling of accomplishment and pride in the individual, giving them much confidence to moveforward through the life-span.The third element observable in the developmental process is, admittedly, speculative.However, it is hoped that the case study will highlight how it fits in with the bio-ecological model. The will, also referred to in literature as the spirit, the soul or the ego,is that part of our individual being which informs our deepest choices and seeks to guideus towards the fulfilment of our potentials. No other theory explains adequately thisinternal drive that allows even the most humble of acolytes the power to act against his or her master. This idea shall be studied in-depth later in the essay.

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