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Education Psychology

Xin Miao

College of Southern Nevada

Vincent Richardson
April, 2018


This study reflects an observation of my cousin George who is 16 years old. He was born on

August 10, 1999. He is growing up with a father who is dysfunctional and abusive and his

mother is raising him amidst of difficulties and taking all responsibility. He had always seemed

to like school but he always showed that he was pressed in his mind. This affected how he

carried himself and what he excelled in. He has many talents, physically and he has a mind that

can learn vocabulary well and write interesting pieces which he has shared with me. He had

difficulty socially and the way he sees himself does not match what those, like myself see him

as. He and his family live in Las Vegas (which is 25 minutes away from my house). All he has

known is a single mother life and a somewhat present dysfunctional father. His father does not

work much and is verbally abusive to George. He does not involve himself with George much

and is distracted with his drinking and his problems. His Mom does her best to make up for the

slack with George but it is a strained situation. He has not had any positive male influence at all

up to this point. This is partly his choice because he is not seeking it out. His Mom encourages it

but George isn’t interested right now. He lives in a relatively small community which of course

has schools, parks and mall nearby. He has friends but he does not seek them out to spend time

with him. He does not have as nice of a house as his friends so this is also another reason he

stays to himself. I think George has so many good qualities. I believe school is a very important

influence on his life.


I appreciate the focus of Ellsworth who has pioneered the work on PEPSI in teaching the

whole child. We are beings created who house many facets and education must do the same.

Therefore, when it comes to education, all facets must be addressed: the physical, emotional,

philosophical, social and intellectual realms need to be considered in teaching so we can grow in

awareness of developmental behaviors and in the importance of teaching the whole child.

Physical Development

George is a well built and handsome young man. He is athletically gifted which can be seen

by how he moves and handles a basketball, but George has not gotten involved in sports. As hard

as his mother encourages him, he prefers to spend his free time out of school in front of video

games, which annoys his mother. George has spoken of how he was going to play football next

season but when that time came he backed out and said he was only doing it to please others and

make them accept him but he really did not want to play because it is not him. According to

Ellsworth, I see how his Mom endeavored to promote George’s “self-acceptance of his bodily

awareness” but he seems not ready to receive it yet. George has an older brother who played a lot

of sports in school and who, like George, is physically well built and handsome. It has been

difficult for George to express his physical gifts in his own way and his family has had to find

ways to affirm him, which has been difficult only because of all the factors in play due to his

father. When it comes to being sexually active, which is a large physical topic with teens, there is

a pressing need for sex education during the high school years for adolescents need to understand

the distinction between sex and mature love, Snowmen (2009) asserts. George has shown gifting

in art and painting and this has come to be his passion and what gives him physical energy right


Emotional Development

George is unique and has his own thoughts. He is stubborn also, and many times his mother

endeavors to instruct him but George will disagree, even though, I believe he agrees with her on

some level but he wants to develop his own voice. He does not feel positive about himself. He

says so many negative things about himself and so I see him below the normal range for

emotions. He brags and puts others down but since I know him so well I can see it is due to the

fact that he does not feel confident in many ways. He is pretty withdrawn and it takes effort to

get him to shine so to speak which is not always easy to do. I know he has suffered from the way

his father has handled him. George has trouble “reading others” in light of how he has developed

his self-conception as Bosacki (2012) has stated. As Smith (2000) asserts, George needs a circle

of friends that can focus on specific skills he has not yet learned that would benefit him

emotionally. He, like many of us, feels as "I am what I imagine myself to be," which Ellsworth

said. George’s thoughts of himself are not always constructive; he is below the normal range for

healthy emotional development.


Philosophical Development

George has received good instruction from his mother who is a solid Christian. He has by his

own choice not participated in drugs and alcohol. His mother is also thankful for this especially

when so many teens drink and do drugs. This area of philosophical development is strong for

George. I believe this is the light guiding him. Even though many young people say that

Christianity is something someone made up, it is clear George does not think this way. He unlike

Garner’s (1994) concern according to Siegel that kids are just going through the motions in

education, in this area George has not. One thing he will speak up confidently about is God and I

have seen a unique boldness in him in this way. George has a strong moral base. This is one area

that George does not need an intervention method to meet his need as Smith (2000) proposes.

George also demonstrates that “simple expectations, worked out with the student and adhered to

consistently give the most safety and provide ritual as a safety net.” writes Johnson (2009). This

has caused him to stay level to a certain extent and to keep going as a wind in his sail. Because

this is the one area that has been the most stable for George, I see him above average in this way.

Social Development

“Belonging and being accepted take on looming proportions,” Ellsworth says. I certainly

agree and this area of development has been lacking for George. Bosacki (2012) tells us that

“research shows that the ability to ‘read others’ or to make sense of the signs and symbols

evident in human communication has an influence on children's self-conceptions and their social

interactions in childhood and adolescence.” The main reason George lacks here is because his

father is so verbally abusive to him, which brings great pain to George. He has unfortunately

read himself through his father and this has been a large stumbling block to George. The signs

and symbols communicated to George were horrific and he has shared these with me. This is

why he is quiet and has a hard time opening up to others. He needs to grow interdependent to

learn to trust as Johnson states. He cannot be interdependent with his father but with some

attentive teacher this could produce a great breakthrough for George. Johnson also states that

consistent and simple expectations will provide safety. There is a teacher George mentions which

he likes to talk to and this is a great benefit to George. I have seen a lot of mood swings in him

and some anger but this is understandable in my opinion due to his home circumstances. In

school, he is quiet and cooperative but he is held back developmentally socially. Additionally,

social interactions influence the development of one’s personality with regard to personal sense

of identity according to Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, states Snowman (2009).


Intellectual Development

George is extremely witty and obviously intelligent. Snowmen says that the problem is that

intelligence has been studied from a variety of perspectives with different definitions flowing

from each. Due to this, it is difficult to produce a definition. For example, when George speaks

he is often funny and he sometimes makes comments that show he thinks deeply. He seems to

agree with Gardner in that he disagrees with going through the motions in education which he

certainly does not. He sometimes questions things the teachers say and ask to be done but not to

simply argue but because he sees things a certain way. He is a true individual and in his most

difficult exams he does much better than most of the class. When he sees things he considers

pointless, he will not do them and this does not always affect his grade well. He shows a maturity

over his peers in how he listens and speaks, so in this area he is developmentally strong. In

Snowman, McCown and Biehler’s (2009) section of Understanding Student Differences, it is

clear that teachers need to broaden their perspectives and knowledge about their students. Slavin

(1997) provides help to teachers in how to translate the theories we know and observe into fruit

bearing practices for the students. George is a great example of one that if he is met up with

those that understand him he will be propelled toward expressing his greatness. George also

spends his time doing word searches and puzzles at home. He uses many words in conversation

that even I do not know the meaning of.



Teachers and administration have a large responsibility for student success. Siegel quotes

Gardner as saying, “We must discover areas of strength and characteristic approaches to

learning. And, as much as possible, we must bring the teaching to where the child is. When a

child does not learn, it is premature to blame the child, because, more often than not, the failure

lies with the educator.” Too many teachers blame students when they themselves lack insight in

how to understand the student and teach well. In addition, past centuries mistakenly have treated

all children as if they were variants of the same individual, and thus made themselves as teachers

feel justified in teaching the same subjects in the same ways Gardner also purports. The greatest

and most dire and monumental challenge for teachers is to learn from the student as much as

they expect the student to learn from them. With George, teacher and student support needs to be

in place that would allow him to grow emotionally and socially. Many children have an abusive

parent and strategies are needed so that school can be a place where the student can learn how to

trust as well. It is true that children and young people must be educated as a whole person. This

will better assure more productive individuals and provider more promise of a productive society

as well.

George’s Developmental Ratings

PEPSI Chart for George

Normal age

Physical Emotional Philosophical Social Intellectual Normal age



• Bosacki, S. (2012). Culture of Ambiguity Implications for Self and Social Understanding

in Adolescence.

• Ellsworth, J. (1999). PEPSI. Retrieved from

• Johnson, D., & Johnson, R. (2009). An Educational Psychology Success Story: Social

Interdependence Theory and Cooperative Learning.


• Siegel J., Shaughnessy M. (1994). Educating for Understanding.


• Slavin, R. (1997). Educational psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

• Snowman, J., McCown,R. and Biehler, R. (2009). Psychology Applied to Teaching.

Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co,.