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Arnold Gesell : Maturation theory.

Arnold Gesell believed that the growth and development of children was
influenced by their genetics and their environment, but with the child’s
psychological development being the primary driver.

Gesell disagreed with the notion that children developed primarily through
external factors. His maturation theory focuses on internal factors, such as
the growth of the child’s central nervous system, as their primary influence.

When the spinal cord, brain, and nerves are able to communicate in their
complex network it allows for a child’s mind to grow. As it grows, development
occurs. When development happens, the behaviors of that child will also

As Gesell developed his maturation theory, he felt that the psychological

processes could develop in fixed sequences just as the physical body of a child
develops in a fixed sequence. The heart of an embryo, for example, is the first
organ to develop every time. Then the central nervous system begins to
develop. Peripheral organs then develop afterward.

Gesell also noted that infants gain control over their bodies after birth in a
series of fixed sequences. Their lips and tongues gain control first, then eye
movement, then gradual control over the shoulders, neck, and limbs. There is
a consistent head-to-toe trend in human development.

As part of this development process, Gesell goes beyond the physical factors.
He asserts that cultural environments, social environments, and other factors
also play a role in maturation. For that reason, Gesell suggests that teaching
children to perform certain tasks should happen only when they are physically
and mentally ready for those tasks. Teaching a 3-month-old child to walk, for
example, would be ahead of the child’s developmental schedule and could do
more harm than good.
Havighurst’s Developmental Task Theory.
Robert Havighurst emphasized that learning is basic and that it continues throughout life-
span. Growth and Development occurs in six stages.
When people successfully accomplish and master these developmental tasks, they feel pride
and satisfaction, and consequently earn the approval of their community or society. This
success provides a sound foundation which allows them to accomplish developmental tasks
that they will encounter at later stages.
Conversely, when people fail to accomplishing a developmental task, they’re often unhappy
and are not accorded the desired approval by society, resulting in the subsequent experience
of difficulty when faced with succeeding developmental tasks.

Stage Age Tasks

Infancy and Early birth to 5 years Learning to walk
Childhood Learning to control bodily wastes
Learning to talk
Learning to form relationships with family
Getting ready to read
Middle Childhood 6 – 12 years Learning physical skills for playing games
Developing school-related skills such as
reading , writing, and counting
Developing conscience and values
Attaining independence
Adolescence 13 – 17 years Establishing emotional independence from
Equipping self with skills needed for productive
Achieving gender-based social role
Establishing mature relationships with peers of
both sexes
Early Adulthood 18 – 35 years Choosing a partner
Establishing a family
Managing a home
Establishing a career
Middle Age 36 – 60 years Maintaining economic standard of living
Performing civic and social responsibilities
Relating to spouse as a person
Adjusting to physiological changes
Later Maturity over 60 years Adjusting to deteriorating health and physical
Adjusting to retirement
Meeting social and civil obligations
Adjusting to death or loss of spouse