Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Maturation is mediated by genes and biology that determine behavioral traits and developmental trends and there is little that parents or teachers could do to alter its progress." - Arnold Gessell

Maturation Theory- A highly biological theory that regarded child development as an evolutionary approach where there is a genetically determined series of events that unfold automatically. It is believed that development has a biological process that occurs in predictable stages over time.
For your viewing pleasure: (examples of fun videos to watch dealing with maturation of children)

  • Is Caity ready to dance? Would she automatically be better if she was a few years older? Would she be better if she practiced, practiced, practiced? Gessell would argue that all she would need is to mature a year or two and she would be better at her tap dancing

  • Because this toddler can count does that make him ready for Kindergarten? Gessell and Rousseau might have argued that he is ready but aren't there other factors? Consider the toddler's maturity level in general.

How does this affect educators and families?
  • Educators and families are lead to assume that young children will acquire knowledge naturally and automatically as they grow physically and become older, provided they are healthy.
  • Theorists believed that school readiness is a state at which all healthy young children arrive they can perform certain tasks such as reciting the alphabet or counting.
  • It tells parents to be patient while children are getting ready physically, mentally and emotionally, for school.

Theorists: Jean Jacques Rousseau and Arnold Gessell

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
*Believed maturation was a genetically determined, naturally unfolding course of growth
*Saw children as determining their own destinies
*Viewed development as a discontinuous, stage-wise process that follows a course mapped
out by nature

Arnold Gessell (1880-1961)
*Regarded child development as the maturation process; genetically determined
series of events that unfold automatically
*Intensive effort to describe all aspects of child development
*Was among the first to make knowledge about child development meaningful to parents
by informing them of what to expect at each age

Pros and Cons of Theory:

Pros: 1. Gessell had pervasive influence on American psychology, education and child-rearing.
2. Theorists were advocates of "discerning guidance"
3. It gave parents and educators a guide by which they could find the "norm" or average
behavior for each age group.
4. Believed that many traits of human behavior were heritable.
5. Opened up a whole new positive look for nursery schools for "school readiness"
6. It expected children to be immature...maturity would come later in life.
7. It looked at the wonderful effects of natural growth.
8. It lead to patience during times that a child was problematic (i.e. "Terrible Twos)

Cons: 1. Did not relate to child's learning, injury, illness or other life experiences.
2. There was too much emphasis on maturation and not learning.
3. The developmental stages were possibly too slow.
4. Rules out all evidence of environment influences.

Other sites to search: