This essay will analyses the evidence both for and against the argument that development occurs In stages. There are many theories relating to child development. Many of which argue the existence of stages within the development process. One of the mall theories Is Piglet’s, who focused on the cognitive development of children. This essay will look at Piglet’s theory of cognitive development In children and examine any positive and negative aspects of this theory. It will also look at Fraud’s theory of sexual development in children and investigate the positive and negative attributes of this theory.
The final major theory that will be looked at is the information processing approach, with a brief look at positive and negative features of this particular theory. The term development in itself can be defined as the progression of a living thing as it grows, matures and transforms throughout its lifetime (Smith, Cookie, Blades, 2003). Psychologists who study child development look at the way in which children develop. Many psychologists believe that development occurs in stages within children. Planet particularly had a theory relating to the cognitive development of children.
He believed there were four stages: the seniority stage, which occurs In Infancy, and Is when the child uses their developing senses and motor skills to explore their environment (Kaplan, 1998). The second stage of development is the Operational stage, this occurs between the ages of two and seven. During this stage the child is expanding their language skills but still has a very egocentric view of the world, believing that everyone else sees certain circumstances the same way that they do (Smith, Cookie, Blades, 2003). The third stage is the Concrete Operational Stage, which occurs between the ages of seven and twelve.
Throughout this particular stage, children become less egocentric and are able to see things from another person’s point of view (Kaplan, 1998). They are also able to understand “conservation of mass, length, weight and volume”, (Smith, Cookie and Blades, 2003). For example this means that they comprehend that beakers of varying height and width can hold the same volume of liquid. The final stage of cognitive development according to Pigged is the Formal Operational Stage. This stage occurs from the age of twelve upwards. At this stage the child can begin to reason abstractly and think somewhat scientifically (Kaplan, 1998).
Pigged came to the conclusion that development occurs in these four stages by observing children and concluding that their development does take place in stages (Smith, Cookie and Blades, 2003). Pigged also conducted experiments, such as the “water-beaker experiment”. During this experiment, there are two beakers, one short and wide, the other tall and narrow, both of equal volume. The short, wide beaker is filled with water and two children aged four and seven are asked to pour the same amount of water into the tall narrow glass so that they both contain the same amount of water.
The results show that the our year old Is Incapable of understanding that the tall narrow beaker, whilst It looks like It contains more liquid, actually contains the same amount. The seven year old, however, is able to understand the concept that they hold the same volume of liquid even though they are to a different shape to one another Piglet’s theory has come up against certain criticisms, for example, later studies have shown that not all stages of development are precise.
Further studies have shown that some children display signs of understanding conservation before Pigged suggested it would occur (Smith, Cookie, Blades, 2003). Another criticism of this theory is that the methods Pigged used in his research were not scientific. He didn’t use controls in his experiments with children, as a result of this it can be speculated that the results were caused by another factor (Kaplan, 1998). Another criticism of Piglet’s theory is that it only looked at children in Western society.
Pigged didn’t take into account different social and cultural groups, who may develop differently (Smith, Cookie and Blades, 2003). Pigged, whilst striving to investigate children’s development focused solely on the knowledge they already have and not on how they learnt it or owe they think in general (Kaplan, 1998). In spite of these criticisms there are some strengths to Piglet’s theory. For example it allows us insight into the way children behave and develop (Kaplan, 1998). It also shows the significance in allowing children to take an active role in their development (Kaplan, 1998).
By allowing children to take an active role in their development as opposed to passive learning, we are encouraging them to aggressively take on the world. Freud was another psychologist who argued that child development occurs in stages. He believed that children were sexual beings, who experienced pleasure and inequality. His theory of psychosocial development states that children’s development occurs in five stages. The oral stage which occurs from birth to about 18 months, involves the child gains through pleasure from sucking and biting.
If some trauma occurs during this stage the child may become fixated in this stage and experience what’s known as an oral fixation (Kaplan, 1998). The second psychosocial stage of development takes place while the parents are attempting to toilet-train the child. It’s known as the anal stage and occurs when the child gains pleasure from releasing faces. Again if the child becomes fixated in this stage it can lead to either an anal retentive personality or an extremely disorganized personality depending on whether the child was toilet-trained strictly or liberally (Kaplan, 1998).
The third stage is the phallic stage; this occurs at age four and is when the child becomes “attached” to the sex organs. The child becomes sexually attracted to the parent of the opposite sex and fears that the same sex parent will punish them for these feelings. They experience feelings of Jealousy toward the same sex parent. This is known as the Electra complex (in girls) and the Oedipus complex (in boys), (Kaplan, 1998). Freud believed that fixation in this stage could lead to a number of problems, for example the child, once grown, may experience sexual problems.
Fixation in this stage may also lead to problems with the same sex parent, if the Oedipal or Electra complex is unresolved, and with the child directing antipathy towards figures in authority (Kaplan, 1998). The latency stage of psychosocial development is the fourth stage which Freud described. The latency stage occurs from the age of six until puberty. During this stage the child’s sexual telling are latent allowing the chill d the chance to focus and develop other parts of their personality. They are able to focus on school and making friends (Essence, 2000). The genital stage is the final stage in Fraud’s theory.
This stage takes place during puberty and involves the child traditionally becoming sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex (Kaplan, 1998). Fraud’s theory has gained a lot of criticism, however it has also allowed for expansion of other theories. One of the main criticisms is that it isn’t testable; Fraud’s theories re based on experiences and interviews with mentally unhealthy individuals and so perhaps can be more generalized to them rather than mentally healthy individuals and their development (Kaplan, 1998). However, there are more positives than negatives to Fraud’s theory.
It enables other theorists and psychologists to look beyond the physical and into the unconscious desires and behavior (Kaplan, 1998). Another strength of this theory is that it gives us insight into what might cause certain problems which develop in later life, as a result of early childhood experiences (Kaplan, 1998). In contrast to Pigged and Fraud’s theories which are based on the belief that a child’s development occurs in categorical stages, the information processing approach expands on Piglet’s theories and looks at the cognitive factors which have some bearing on how children tackle certain tasks (Smith, Cookie, Blades, 2003).
Pigged himself realized the importance of comprehending the cognitive aspects which have an effect on children and the way they tackle problem solving. Cognitive processing has been described in terms of three memory stores: the Sensory register, the Short- term memory and the Long-term memory (Atkinson and Shuffling, 1968). The sensory register deals with any information which is coming in and often stores it in the short-term memory. Information which is placed into the long-term memory is harder to recall than information in the short-term memory.
However, there are many approaches which children develop in order to use their long-term memory more effectively (Smith, Cookie and Blades, 2003). A popular analogy for the human mind amongst information processing theorists is the computer analogy. The idea that we “input” information, process it and “output” it is similar to the way a computer works (Kaplan, 1998). In terms of studying development this approach focuses largely on the changes which occur in people’s ability to process information. For example older people’s information process is slower than that of a younger individual, (Kaplan, 1998).
This approach helps us to expand on Piglet’s work and gain more of an in- depth look at his theories. One of the major flaws of this approach to developmental psychology is that it has not been tested sufficiently (Kaplan, 1998); more testing would be required in order to determine how valuable this theory is in the field of developmental psychology. However it does allow us an insight into the processes of the human mind and how certain tasks are tackled by individuals (Smith, Cookie and Blades, 2003).
In conclusion, whilst it is safe to say that Pigged and Freud were pioneers in the field of child development, it can also be said that there are other aspects to be considered. There nave been many models suggesting that child development occurs in stages, Piglet’s cognitive development model and Fraud’s model of psychosocial development are only two in a wide range of theories arguing that development is a stage like process. However, the information processing approach, even though it expands on many of Piglet’s ideas it also looks at the other prospects.
Such as, how information is processed, the computer analogy and how information is stored. Each theory is not without its limitations however and in order to gain a balanced view of child development all aspects must be considered. References Smith, P. Cookie, H. Blades, M (2003) Understanding Children’s Development, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, I-J Kaplan, P. (1998) The Human Odyssey: Life-Span Development, Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, USA. Essence, M. (2000) Psychology: A Student’s Handbook, Psychology Press, UK