“Leap into the void”
This type of perception may seem to come out of left-field for Asperger types; but listen with your unconscious sensory abilities and you may be surprised. Programming not only ‘happens” to NTs, but definitely, to us. We are defined by the DSM-5 symptom list – and all the other BS lists, surveys, studies, anecdotes, and media descriptions that are being constructed; these “stories” dictate who we are supposed to be in the family and in society. We cannot help but have this propaganda influence us as infants and children; what is never revealed is that we can de-program ourselves by using our Asperger traits, talents and intellect to create an authentic human being. We don’t have to limit ourselves to conform to the NT “psycho-social” prison of labels that condemns us.
“Scientific thought and the miraculous unconscious are two waves in the same ocean.”
I’m not promoting “specific” opinions or conclusions in the Jodorowsky interviews; (there are many to enjoy) but he is a great relief from the dogmatic and “ungenerous” beliefs and thinking in American psychology. His point about programming is especially important; Asperger /Autistic types must “heal” ourselves by creating and claiming our “authentic way of being” in the world.
His comments about family secrets and autism are important: The family tree “brands us, possesses us, like voodoo.” Is this not another way to look at epigenetics?
“The child’s mind is not the type of mind we adults possess. If we call our type of mind the conscious type, that of the child is an unconscious mind. Now an unconscious mind does not mean an inferior mind. An unconscious mind can be full of intelligence. One will find this type of intelligence in every being, and every insect has it.” Maria Montessori
Successful athletic coaches are excellent teachers. Why? They are results-based people.
Years ago, when I worked as a substitute teacher in high schools, I quickly learned to ask the district to call me whenever a coach needed a sub. Their classrooms were organized for efficient and calm learning. The students were well-behaved, loved their teacher and were ready to participate. Essential teaching materials were available: you’d be surprised how many teachers are utter clutter-bugs, unprepared and couldn’t care less about what goes on in a classroom.
I’m “looking into” alternative areas of teaching – learning outside the rigid psychology-based nightmare of public non-education. Note how this martial arts instructor focusses on HIS STUDENTS: paying close attention to their needs and individual receptivity to learning styles.
This results-based approach is common sense, but does require being flexible, paying attention to detail, and sincerely and actively being interested in who the students are as individuals.
AND knowing your subject thoroughly… “If you can’t explain it to a 6 year-old, you don’t understand it yourself”
Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic Learning Styles in Grappling
by Charles Smith, whitebelt.org
People learn in many different ways and no two people learn in exactly the same way. As a coach you can help your players train more efficiently if you teach in a way that takes into account the various differences in their learning styles.
In this article.. I cover three basic styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.
Visual learners want to see how something is done. Auditory learners prefer to hear explanations and like to talk their way through things. Kinesthetically oriented people want to get lots of hands-on experience so they can feel how something is done. I’ve covered each of these sensory learning styles in their own article, linked at the bottom of this page.
As you read the articles keep in mind that everyone uses a mix of learning styles. Some people have one dominant style, and use the others only as supplements, while other people use different styles in different circumstances. There is no right mix. People’s learning styles are also quite flexible. Everyone can develop ability in their less dominant styles, as well as increase their skill with styles they already use well.
Note to Coaches:
The key for you as a coach is to present information in a multi-layered mixture of styles. Don’t get stuck teaching in just one mode. Make sure you’re doing all you can for each style and pay particular attention to how you can blend the styles together. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you should help your students discover their own learning styles and how to make the most of them.
Visual Learning Style
First we’ll look at the visual learning style and how best to teach people who use it.
The visual style of learning is one of the three sensory learning styles along with auditory and kinesthetic. Like the other two, visual learning relates to the fundamental ways in which people take-in information. As you can guess, visual learners learn predominantly with their eyes. They prefer to see how to do things rather than just talk about them. It’s the old monkey see, monkey do kind of thing. (So be careful what you do in front of your children!) Since about 60% of people are visual learners you can count on working with them in every class you teach.
Visual learners prefer to watch demonstrations and will often get a lot out of video taped instruction as well. You can sometimes tell you’re dealing with a visual learner when they ask, “Can I see that again?” Other types of learners would ask if you could do it again, or explain it again, but visual learners will often say they want to see it. It’s just a little sign that the person you’re coaching may be a visual learner.
There are two important guidelines to follow in coaching for visual learners. The first is to make sure you are showing the movements as completely and clearly as possible. If you’re demonstrating a technique and part of the movement is hidden from view, you’ll want to find a way to rearrange things. You may have to get pretty creative, but the main thing is to position yourself so that everything you’re doing is available for viewing.
You also don’t want to rush or cut corners during a demonstration. Players need to see exactly how things should look from beginning to end. Coaches will frequently cover the key part of a technique with precision, but then get sloppy with the rest. Remember, monkey see, monkey do. Visual learners are going to do what they see you doing. They’ll subconsciously pick up on the sloppy movements and begin copying them – often even if you tell them not to.
Those are the two main guidelines for visual coaching: Show everything clearly and show everything exactly as you want it to be done.
Based on those ideas, here are a few things you can do, and not do, to improve your coaching for visual learners.
- Always take the time to show the technique from a number of different angles and encourage your students to move around and find the best viewing angles.
- Do not force your students to stay in fixed lines while you demonstrate. This always results in some people blocking the view of others.
- Give your demonstrations toward the middle of the floor, not near a wall. That way people can get all the way around you.
- Every now and then throw out a banana. Monkeys like bananas.
Auditory Learning Style
Auditory learners pick up new ideas and concepts better when they hear the information. In this article we’ll look at the auditory learning style and how best to present information to people who favor it.
Recognizing the Auditory Style
Auditory people can often follow directions very precisely after being told only once or twice what to do. Some auditory learners concentrate better when they have music or white noise in the background, or retain new information better when they talk it out.
Since hearing and speaking are so closely related you’ll often find auditory learners using they’re voice as well as their ears. They’ll often repeat what you’ve said right back to you. (Of course, psychologists label this natural auditory learning behavior as “pathological echolalia” in ASD Asperger children.) It helps them process the information. They may also remember complex sets of information by putting them to song or rhythm. Singers are usually skilled auditory learners for example. That’s why they can memorize a song after hearing it just a few times. Auditory people may also ask, “Could you explain that again?” Other types of learners would ask you to do it again, or show it again, but auditory learners want to hear it.
Once you start watching for the signs you’ll see just how many people prefer the auditory style. I believe the experts say that about 30% of Americans are auditory learners. That makes it a good bet you’ll be working with them in any decent sized class.
As with the other styles of learning it’s best to let people arrange themselves around you for instruction. Don’t force your students to stay in fixed lines while you demonstrate. Lines always result in some people not being able to hear as well as others – or feeling that they’ve been pushed to the back and can’t ask questions.
I’d suggest giving your demonstrations toward the middle of the floor and not near a wall (as in the typical “lecture style” American classroom.)That way people can get all the way around you to find the best place to listen from. You may have to encourage people to move around you since so many of us are conditioned to being in neat little lines.
Likewise, it’s also a good idea to let people ask questions as soon as they have them. Requiring people to raise their hands or otherwise wait for permission to speak usually squanders the moment when a student is really hot to learn. You’ll just end up back tracking to answer the question anyway, so let people speak up when they want to and rely on informal means to keep things under control.
Auditory learners will try to do what you say – exactly what you say. You need to speak clearly and completely or they’re going to head off in the wrong direction for sure. Assuming you’ve got decent speaking skills, the thing to pay most attention to is giving a detailed verbal description of what you’re doing. In other words, you’ve got to put everything into words.
Saying “do it like this” is not enough. It’s talking, sure, but it’s not saying anything. “Do it like this” means: Ignore what I’m saying and watch instead. Instead of saying “put your hand here.” Say “put your hand on the inside of the knee.” Instead of saying “push hard,” say “push hard enough to pin their leg down.” Instead of saying, “move over here,” say “move over next to the far leg.” See the pattern? Avoid saying things that assume the player can see what you’re talking about.
Getting verbal helps a lot of auditory learners. When they can both hear something and then say it out loud for themselves it helps them process the information. Most auditory learners like to ask questions too, if given the chance. You can get things started, and give everyone confidence that you like questions, by asking some questions of your own.
I would caution one thing though. Don’t make people feel like they’re being tested by putting them on the spot. Address your question to the group as a whole and don’t slight anyone who answers incorrectly.
One of my favorite ways to tell someone they’ve got it wrong is to use a melodramatic voice and body language to say:
“Good answer! Good answer!”
Then pause a moment and say:
“It’s not the right answer, but it’s a good answer!”
If you ham it up people get the idea that the answer is wrong but there’s no reason to be embarrassed.
Verbal interaction is probably one of the weakest areas most coaches have. Perhaps it’s because most of us grew up being told to keep quite in school. Now that we’re the teacher we subconsciously induce our students to do the same. Bad, bad us.
If you’re really having trouble with asking questions, one of the simplest ways to start is a technique called echoing. It works like this:
Coach states: “Grab the near collar.”
Coach immediately asks: “What do you grab?”
Athletes echo: “The near collar.”
Coach echoes: “The near collar.”
Echoing is crude, but it works to get people’s jaws moving and that’s a start. Keep it light hearted and try it for a few months. (No, it doesn’t work overnight.) After everyone’s mouth is use to moving start branching out into real questions.
Like I said, echoing is crude, but it’s a start.
By the way, echoing can also be used as a motivational technique. People have to pay more attention to what you’re saying if they know they have to echo what you say.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you should help your students become aware of their own auditory style and give them suggestions for putting it to use. What I call rapping is a simple way to start.
Rapping is a simple procedure auditory learners can use to help themselves learn a new technique. Using short phrases, students quietly talk their way through the new movements they’re learning. Each step has it’s own little key word description that acts to jog the memory. The player should be able to put together the key words for themselves from the description given by the coach. Once the student starts to get the movements down, they can say the words in rhythm to help smooth out their timing and pace.
Coaches can encourage rapping by asking students if they’ve got the rap down and “let’s hear it.” And hey, maybe you can beat-box for ‘em too! Or not.
Now that you’ve got a grasp of the auditory learning style I think you’ll find you can more precisely target your coaching for a number of your students.
If you haven’t already, I’d recommend taking a look at the other two sensory learning styles, visual and kinesthetic, to round out your knowledge.
Kinesthetic Learning Style
About 10% of the general population are kinesthetic learners. They prefer to learn by getting their body into action and moving around. They are “hands-on” types who prefer doing to talking. (Many ASD Asperger children, despite being labeled clumsy, “do” kinesthetic learning. It’s all that “hands on, let me do it myself, my way” behavior: handling objects, studying them, using them, arranging them – Oh no! That’s defective: punish that child.) In this article we’ll look at the kinesthetic learning style and how best to present information to people who favor it.
Recognizing the Kinesthetic Style
While only about 10% of the general population are kinesthetic learners, it’s a good bet a lot more people in a grappling class are. Only people who enjoy lots of hands-on work tend to keep coming back to something so physical.
As a coach you can count on all of your players to engage in kinesthetic learning. They may not be kinesthetic-oriented by nature, but grappling will eventually shape them into skilled kinesthetic learners. (So let’s get rid of outdoor recess, PE classes and punish kids when they can’t remain frozen like statues for hours and hours)
Let me point out a few indicators of the kinesthetic style.
When you’re giving a demonstration the people who always ask you to demonstrate on them so they can feel the technique, are very likely kinesthetic learners (and masochists). (Successful athletes do tolerate an extreme amount of pain, injury, discomfort and failure in order to fulfill goals. The corollary perils of intellectual success are ignored)
You’ll also see the kinesthetic types following along as you demonstrate – moving their arms and legs in imitation of what you’re doing. Moving is so fundamental to kinesthetic learners that they often just fidget if nothing else. It helps them concentrate better.
If you talk for more than ten minutes during a technical demonstration you’ve gone way too long. Kinesthetic learners need to get to the action as soon as possible. Even visual and auditory learners can’t keep track of 10 minutes worth of non-stop details. Three minutes is my rule. If I can’t demonstrate something in under three minutes I usually break it down into smaller chunks. Say what you need to say, don’t say anything else and then get to work.
This is a very important point that relates not just to kinesthetic learners but to everyone in general. It has to do with the relationship between short-term-memory and learning. Check out the article entitled Chunking to find out more.
One of the most important things you can do regarding learning styles is help your students become aware of their own preferences. Be sure to talk to your students about kinesthetics.
Kinesthetics simply refers to an awareness of changes in pressure, momentum, balance and body position in general. It’s all about feeling what you’re doing as you do it. Kinesthetic learning is not particularly difficult to understand but because so many people regard learning as something you do by reading books or listening to lectures, they often haven’t given a great deal of thought to physical movement as a means of study. (Could it be that many ASD, Asperger and ADHD children are acutely aware of “changes in pressure, momentum, balance body position” and other sensory information, but need to utilize kinesthetic learning as an asset, instead of being labeled “defective” and FORCED to mimic “socially acceptable behavior” as a “solution” to social psychology’s conformist agenda?)
For some people, taking a grapping class may actually be the very first time they become consciously aware of kinesthetics, so make sure all of your students know what it is and that they will need to make extensive use of kinesthetic learning methods to succeed. Even predominantly visual and auditory learners need to make use of all the kinesthetic techniques they can. (How radical!)
Essentially, kinesthetic learners need to feel the particular details of what’s happening during a technique. As a coach you want to give your player a very tactile sense of what to do. Provide them with precisely targeted physical contact by setting up situations where the player feels one thing if they move correctly and something else if they move poorly.
For example, if a player is incorrectly leaving his arm out where it might get pulled into an arm bar, have the player tuck in his arm and point out that he should feel his elbow tight up against his own ribs. Then emphasize the way the position feels by pulling on his arm so he is forced to engage his muscles. Tell him to pay attention to his own muscles working away inside his body. (Psycho-social teaching labels “the body” as a dangerous object that must be “controlled” like an enemy, as opposed to being the essential vehicle for “being” in the world.)
Once he’s got a feel for the proper position, do some repetitions. As the player works on his technique, stop and check the arm to make sure it’s in tight. Tug on it a few times to reinforce the correct feeling and then continue on. After several reps stop checking the arm but keep an eye on it as the player keeps going. If that arm goes slack again slap the piss out of the guy (get his attention) and repeat the whole arm-pulling exercise again. After a few training sessions the player should be keeping his arm in on his own. (Note that the teacher must pay attention to the student! Not just dump poorly delivered information into the “air” and assume it’s the child’s fault for “not getting it”)
Finding a way to physically check a player’s body position is the key. Push, pull, lift, press, whatever – do something that the player must physically react to – then get them to pay attention to the kinesthetic sensations.
Understanding kinesthetic learning is an absolute necessity for grappling coaches. I typically base my own coaching style on the requirements for good kinesthetic learning and then supplement it with the other two sensory learning styles: visual and auditory.
Thanks to Charles Smith and whitebelt.org for allowing us to post this article on Grapplearts
See also: Posts on Hunter Gatherers
I hate to fly. I really, really hate to fly. The last time I used an airplane for travel, was to return from a visit to my very ill mother. A thunderstorm struck; there was severe turbulence and the heat in the cabin failed. I hid under a blanket (too small) that only covered my head. A sixteen year-old boy in the seat next to me (and some gin) had to talk me through the flight. Combo: severe emotional stress (family) plus lightning, thunder and unstable airplane = Never fly again.
In fact, the only flight I ever enjoyed was a return trip from a business meeting in LA: the client took us to every Hell hole in Hollywood. Too much food, booze and bizarre behavior. I was so hung over that I didn’t care if the plane crashed and we all died.
People who fly all the time may not think about it, but much of modern life is unattainable if one doesn’t fly.
The childhood corollary to this handicap was a fear of heights, in particular roller coasters, Ferris wheels and amusement rides. This pretty much eliminated summer entertainment. I stood around holding everyone’s food, drinks and jackets and purses. People made fun of me and tried to trick or shame me into “not being a party pooper” Being an Asperger child, none of this manipulation had any effect on me. I learned to take a camera with me – it was a convenient excuse to wander off by myself and avoid being harassed. And I eventually turned into a photographer, an activity that has enriched my life, whereas the lack of amusement park rides has not affected me at all.
Fortunately, I love trains and driving, although trains just aren’t what they used to be. I drove all over the U.S., but once I moved to Wyoming, I’ve stayed put. I guess all that time I spent traveling around, I was just looking for Wyoming.
In 2008, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency issued a challenge to researchers: Create a sophisticated, shoebox-size system that incorporates billions of transistors, weighs about three pounds, and requires a fraction of the energy needed by current computers. Basically, a brain in a box.
Although neuroscience has made important strides in recent years, the inner workings of the brain are still largely a mystery. “So little is really understood about the hardware of the brain—the neurons and their interconnections, and the algorithms that run on top of them—that today, anyone who claims to have built ‘a brain-like computer’ is laughable,” says Stan Williams, a research fellow at Hewlett Packard Labs.
“Programs mirror human logic, but they don’t mirror intuitive thought.”
Rich Friedrich, Hewlett Packard Labs
A caveat from HP Labs (super website) regarding the analogy that the human brain like a computer processor.
We have to start somewhere!
By Christopher Pappas, November 11, 2016
The brain is often likened to a processor. A complex computing machine that takes raw data and turns it into thoughts, memories, and cognitions. However, it has its limits, and Instructional Designers must know the boundaries before they can create meaningful eLearning courses. In this article, I’ll explore how the brain works, from its basic biological and memory functions to its ability to process information. I’ll also share 3 tips to help you create an eLearning course design that facilitates knowledge absorption and assimilation.
Information Processing Basics: A Guide For Instructional Designers
The brain is a wondrous thing. It transforms letters, numbers, and images into meaningful data that governs every aspect of our lives. Neural pathways spark and new ideas meet with the old to form complex schematic structures. But one of the most miraculous tasks it tackles is learning. As eLearning professionals, we must understand how information processing takes place in order to create effective eLearning experiences.
Brain Biology / The brain consists of many different structures, and the cortex encases all of them. The cortex is the outermost shell of the brain that takes care of complex thinking abilities. For example, memory, language, spatial awareness, and even personality traits. The inner regions of the brain control the most primitive aspects of human nature, such as our base impulses, fears, emotions, and our subconscious. The brain also houses a “subcortex,” which connects directly to the cortex. As such, it’s able to transmit and process information. (A cliché description of “primitive, subconscious”)
The Human Memory
Now that we’ve briefly explored the physical makeup of the brain, let’s delve into one of its most vital functions: memory. After all, memory is crucial for eLearning. If online learners aren’t able to remember the information, then all is for naught. We usually don’t give memory much attention, as it’s an automatic process. Every event, no matter how small, passes through the gates of our memory without us even noticing. However, most of the occurrences are just passing through and never take up permanent residence. There are three types of memory that Instructional Designers should be aware of:
1. Sensory Memory
When our senses are triggered by a stimulus, our brains briefly store the information. For example, we smell freshly baked bread and can only remember its scent for a few seconds before it vanishes. Even though the bread is no longer in front of us, our mind’s still hold onto its impression for a short period. The brain then has the option to process it through the memory banks or forget about it. In eLearning, sensory memory is triggered by a visually compelling image, background music, or any other element that utilizes the senses.
2. Short-Term Memory
A process that falls under the purview of working memory, which temporarily stores information when it is triggered by stimuli. Short-term memory can only hold a maximum of 7 items at one time. It also has a time limit, which is usually between 10 seconds to a minute.
3. Long-Term Memory
After passing through the short-term memory, relevant information is moved to long-term storage. At this stage, the brain is less likely to forget important details. However, even the long-term memory can diminish over time if we don’t refresh our knowledge.
Information Processing Stages
There are a number of Information Processing theories and models. However, many suggest that the learning process involves three key stages:
Stage 1: Input / The brain is exposed to a stimuli, at which point it analyzes and evaluates the information. For example, the online learner reads a passage and determines whether it’s worth remembering.
Stage 2: Storage / Our brains store the information for later use. It also adds it to our mental schema and encodes it. If the information is not reinforced, the brain may simply forget it over time.
Stage 3: Output / The brain decides what it’s going to do with the information and how it will react to the stimulus. For example, after reading the passage, the individual uses the information they learned to overcome a challenge.
Simple! The question is, How do specific human brains handle these processing tasks? Psychologists would have us believe that there is only ONE way this ought to be accomplished; their way. Bull Shit.
While looking for info on sensory processing / sensory thinking:
Just when I think there is nothing more to investigate / confront in this mish-mash of ASD / Asperger “stuff” – a psychology acronym turns up in what seems to be a personality type called HSP, the innate temperament trait of high sensitivity.
There seems to be an overlap with ASD, Asperger’s, introversion and of course, with sensory processing disorders – What gives? Or for some of us, awareness of the sensory environment is just “normal”!
Are You Highly Sensitive?
Copyright, Elaine N. Aron, 1996
Instructions: Answer each question according to the way you personally feel. Check the box if it is at least somewhat true for you; leave unchecked if it is not very true or not at all true for you.
I’ve highlighted those statements that are “suspiciously” ASD. Personally, I could check yes to all of these!
If you are a parent trying to evaluate your child, please use the test “Is Your Child Highly Sensitive?”
I am easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input.
I seem to be aware of subtleties in my environment.
Other people’s moods affect me.
I tend to be very sensitive to pain.
I find myself needing to withdraw during busy days, into bed or into a darkened room or any place where I can have some privacy and relief from stimulation.
I am particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
I am easily overwhelmed by things like bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens close by.
I have a rich, complex inner life.
I am made uncomfortable by loud noises.
I am deeply moved by the arts or music.
My nervous system sometimes feels so frazzled that I just have to go off by myself.
I am conscientious.
I startle easily.
I get rattled when I have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
When people are uncomfortable in a physical environment I tend to know what needs to be done to make it more comfortable (like changing the lighting or the seating).
I am annoyed when people try to get me to do too many things at once.
I try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things.
I make a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows.
I become unpleasantly aroused when a lot is going on around me.
Being very hungry creates a strong reaction in me, disrupting my concentration or mood.
Changes in my life shake me up.
I notice and enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art.
I find it unpleasant to have a lot going on at once.
I make it a high priority to arrange my life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations.
I am bothered by intense stimuli, like loud noises or chaotic scenes.
When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous or shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise.
When I was a child, my parents or teachers seemed to see me as sensitive or shy.
Scoring: If you answered more than fourteen of the questions as true of yourself, you are probably highly sensitive. But no psychological test is so accurate that an individual should base his or her life on it. We psychologists try to develop good questions, then decide on the cut off based on the average response.
If fewer questions are true of you, but extremely true, that might also justify calling you highly sensitive. Also, although there are as many men as women who are highly sensitive, when taking the test highly sensitive men answer slightly fewer items as true than do highly sensitive women.
This is copyrighted material and may not be copied and used without permission. For permission, please email. If you wish to use this questionnaire for psychological research, there is a better version on this website for you to use along with suggestions for how best to employ it.
The contents of this website and the self-tests it contains are not meant to diagnose or exclude the diagnosis of any condition. See more information on this subject in our FAQs.
About Dr. Elaine Aron: Dr. Aron earned her M.A. from York University in Toronto in clinical psychology and her Ph.D. at Pacifica Graduate Institute in clinical depth psychology as well as interning at the C. G. Jung Institute in San Francisco. Besides beginning the study of the innate temperament trait of high sensitivity in 1991, she, along with her husband Dr. Arthur Aron, are two of the leading scientists studying the psychology of love and close relationships. They are also pioneers in studying both sensitivity and love using functional magnetic resonance imaging. She maintains a small psychotherapy practice in Mill Valley, CA.
Honestly? I’d rather be Asperger: HSP appears to have spawned an (NT) cult of “pants-droppers” LOL
I’m presenting this as a review of where many of our ideas about children, childhood, and “who has rights and who doesn’t” originate – in human thought and ideas (brains), that is, in consequence of poor reasoning, prejudice, personal bias, and thoughtful consideration; by means of accurate and faulty observation, careless assumptions and even (rarely) by clever insight, and not in universal law, in a pre-existing supernatural realm or in a realm of magical authority.
What we see again, is the lack of coherence between modern Western social-psychological-cultural theory and biological reality.
From: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The Philosophy of Childhood
The philosophy of childhood has recently come to be recognized as an area of inquiry analogous to the philosophy of science, the philosophy of history, the philosophy of religion, and the many other “philosophy of” subjects that are already considered legitimate areas of philosophical study. In addition, philosophical study of related topics (such as parental rights, duties and responsibilities) has flourished in recent years. The philosophy of childhood takes up philosophically interesting questions about childhood, changing conceptions over time about childhood and attitudes toward children; theories of cognitive and moral development; children’s interests and children’s rights, the goods of childhood; children and autonomy; the moral status of children and the place of children in society. As an academic subject, the philosophy of childhood has sometimes been included within the philosophy of education (e.g., Siegel, 2009). Recently, however, philosophers have begun to offer college and university courses specifically in the philosophy of childhood. And philosophical literature on childhood, parenting and families is increasing in both quantity and quality.
Almost single-handedly, Philippe Ariès, in his influential book, Centuries of Childhood (Ariès, 1962), made the reading public aware that conceptions of childhood have varied across the centuries. The very notion of a child, we now realize, is both historically and culturally conditioned. But exactly how the conception of childhood has changed historically and how conceptions differ across cultures is a matter of scholarly controversy and philosophical interest (see Kennedy, 2006). Thus Ariès argued, partly on the evidence of depictions of infants in medieval art, that the medievals thought of children as simply “little adults.” Shulamith Shahar (1990), by contrast, finds evidence that some medieval thinkers understood childhood to be divided into fairly well-defined stages. And, whereas Piaget claims that his subjects, Swiss children in the first half of the 20th Century, were animistic in their thinking (Piaget, 1929), Margaret Mead (1967) presents evidence that Pacific island children were not.
One reason for being skeptical about any claim of radical discontinuity—at least in Western conceptions of childhood—arises from the fact that, even today, the dominant view of children embodies what we might call a broadly “Aristotelian conception” of childhood. According to Aristotle, there are four sorts of causality, one of which is Final causality and another is Formal Causality. Aristotle thinks of the Final Cause of a living organism as the function that organism normally performs when it reaches maturity. He thinks of the Formal Cause of the organism as the form or structure it normally has in maturity, where that form or structure is thought to enable the organism to perform its functions well. According to this conception, a human child is an immature specimen of the organism type, human, which, by nature, has the potentiality to develop into a mature specimen with the structure, form, and function of a normal or standard adult.
Many adults today have this broadly Aristotelian conception of childhood without having actually read any of Aristotle. It informs their understanding of their own relationship toward the children around them. Thus they consider the fundamental responsibility they bear toward their children to be the obligation to provide the kind of supportive environment those children need to develop into normal adults, with the biological and psychological structures in place needed to perform the functions we assume that normal, standard adults can perform.
Two modifications of this Aristotelian conception have been particularly influential in the last century and a half. One is the 19th century idea that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny (Gould, 1977), that is, that the development of an individual recapitulates the history and evolutionary development of the race, or species (Spock, 1968, 229). This idea is prominent in Freud (1950) and in the early writings of Jean Piaget (see, e.g. Piaget, 1933). Piaget, however, sought in his later writings to explain the phenomenon of recapitulation by appeal to general principles of structural change in cognitive development (see, e.g., Piaget, 1968, 27).
The other modification is the idea that development takes places in age-related stages of clearly identifiable structural change. This idea can be traced back to ancient thinkers, for example the Stoics (Turner and Matthews, 1998, 49). Stage theory is to be found in various medieval writers (Shahar, 1990, 21–31) and, in the modern period, most prominently in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s highly influential work, Emile (1979). But it is Piaget who first developed a highly sophisticated version of stage theory and made it the dominant paradigm for conceiving childhood in the latter part of the 20th Century (see, e.g., Piaget, 1971).
Matthews (2008, 2009), argues that a Piagetian-type stage theory of development tends to support a “deficit conception” of childhood, according to which the nature of the child is understood primarily as a configuration of deficits—missing capacities that normal adults have but children lack. This conception, he argues, ignores or undervalues the fact that children are, for example, better able to learn a second language, or paint an aesthetically worthwhile picture, or conceive a philosophically interesting question, than those same children will likely be able to do as adults. Moreover, it restricts the range and value of relationships adults think they can have with their children.
Broadly Aristotelian conceptions of childhood can have two further problematic features. They may deflect attention away from thinking about children with disabilities in favour of theorizing solely about normally developing children (see Carlson 2010), and they may distract philosophers from attending to the goods of childhood when they think about the responsibilities adults have towards the children in their care, encouraging focus only on care required to ensure that children develop adult capacities.
How childhood is conceived is crucial for almost all the philosophically interesting questions about children. It is also crucial for questions about what should be the legal status of children in society, as well as for the study of children in psychology, anthropology, sociology, and many other fields.
2. Theories of Cognitive Development
Any well-worked out epistemology will provide at least the materials for a theory of cognitive development in childhood. Thus according to René Descartes a clear and distinct knowledge of the world can be constructed from resources innate to the human mind (Descartes, PW, 131). John Locke, by contrast, maintains that the human mind begins as a “white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas” (Locke, EHC, 121). On this view all the “materials of reason and knowledge” come from experience. Locke’s denial of the doctrine of innate ideas was, no doubt, directed specifically at Descartes and the Cartesians. But it also implies a rejection of the Platonic doctrine that learning is a recollection of previously known Forms. Few theorists of cognitive development today find either the extreme empiricism of Locke or the strong innatism of Plato or Descartes completely acceptable.
Behaviorism has offered recent theorists of cognitive development a way to be strongly empiricist without appealing to Locke’s inner theater of the mind. The behaviorist program was, however, dealt a major setback when Noam Chomsky, in his review (1959) of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior (1957), argued successfully that no purely behaviorist account of language-learning is possible. Chomsky’s alternative, a theory of Universal Grammar, which owes some of its inspiration to Plato and Descartes, has made the idea of innate language structures, and perhaps other cognitive structures as well, seem a viable alternative to a more purely empiricist conception of cognitive development.
It is, however, the work of Jean Piaget that has been most influential on the way psychologists, educators, and even philosophers have come to think about the cognitive development of children. Piaget’s early work, The Child’s Conception of the World (1929), makes especially clear how philosophically challenging the work of a developmental psychologist can be. Although his project is always to lay out identifiable stages in which children come to understand what, say, causality or thinking or whatever is, the intelligibility of his account presupposes that there are satisfactory responses to the philosophical quandaries that topics like causality, thinking, and life raise.
Take the concept of life. According to Piaget this concept is acquired in four stages (Piaget, 1929, Chapter 6)
First Stage: Life is assimilated to activity in general
Second Stage: Life is assimilated to movement
Third Stage: Life is assimilated to spontaneous movement
Fourth Stage: Life is restricted to animals and plants
These distinctions are suggestive, but they invite much more discussion than Piaget elicits from his child subjects. What is required for movement to be spontaneous? Is a bear alive during hibernation? We may suppose the Venus flytrap moves spontaneously. But does it really? What about other plants? And then there is the question of what Piaget can mean by calling the thinking of young children “animistic,” if, at their stage of cognitive development, their idea of life is simply “assimilated to activity in general.”
Donaldson (1978) offers a psychological critique of Piaget on cognitive development. A philosophical critique of Piaget’s work on cognitive development is to be found in Chapters 3 and 4 of Matthews (1994). Interesting post-Piagetian work in cognitive development includes Cary (1985), Wellman (1990), Flavel (1995), Subbotsky (1996), and Gelman (2003).
Recent psychological research on concept formation has suggested that children do not generally form concepts by learning necessary and sufficient conditions for their application, but rather by coming to use prototypical examples as reference guides. Thus a robin (rather, of course, than a penguin) might be the child’s prototype for ‘bird’. The child, like the adult, might then be credited with having the concept, bird, without the child’s ever being able to specify, successfully, necessary and sufficient conditions for something to count as a bird. This finding seems to have implications for the proper role and importance of conceptual analysis in philosophy. It is also a case in which we should let what we come to know about cognitive development in children help shape our epistemology, rather than counting on our antecedently formulated epistemology to shape our conception of cognitive development in children (see Rosch and Lloyd, 1978, and Gelman, 2003).
Some developmental psychologists have recently moved away from the idea that children are to be understood primarily as human beings who lack the capacities adults of their species normally have. This change is striking in, for example, the work of Alison Gopnik, who writes: “Children aren’t just defective adults, primitive grownups gradually attaining our perfection and complexity. Instead, children and adults are different forms of homo sapiens. They have very different, though equally complex and powerful, minds, brains, and forms of consciousness, designed to serve different evolutionary functions” (Gopnik, 2009, 9). Part of this new respect for the capacities of children rests on neuroscience and an increased appreciation for the complexity of the brains of infants and young children. Thus Gopnik writes: “Babies’ brains are actually more highly connected than adult brains; more neural pathways are available to babies than adults.” (11)
3. Theories of Moral Development
Many philosophers in the history of ethics have devoted serious attention to the issue of moral development. Thus Plato, for example, offers a model curriculum in his dialogue, Republic, aimed at developing virtue in rulers. Aristotle’s account of the logical structure of the virtues in his Nicomachean Ethics provides a scaffolding for understanding how moral development takes place. And the Stoics (Turner and Matthews, 1998, 45–64) devoted special attention to dynamics of moral development.
Among modern philosophers, it is again Rousseau (1979) who devotes the most attention to issues of development. He offers a sequence of five age-related stages through which a person must pass to reach moral maturity: (i) infancy (birth to age 2); (ii) the age of sensation (3 to 12); (iii) the age of ideas (13 to puberty); (iv) the age of sentiment (puberty to age 20); and (v) the age of marriage and social responsibility (age 21 on). Although he allows that an adult may effectively modify the behavior of children by explaining that bad actions are those that will bring punishment (90), he insists that genuinely moral reasoning will not be appreciated until the age of ideas, at 13 and older. In keeping with his stage theory of moral development he explicitly rejects Locke’s maxim, ‘Reason with children,’ (Locke, 1971) on the ground that attempting to reason with a child younger than thirteen years of age is developmentally inappropriate.
However, the cognitive theory of moral development formulated by Piaget in The Moral Judgment of the Child (1965) and the somewhat later theory of Lawrence Kohlberg (1981, 1984) are the ones that have had most influence on psychologists, educators, and even philosophers. Thus, for example, what John Rawls has to say about children in his classic work, A Theory of Justice (1971) rests heavily on the work of Piaget and Kohlberg.
Kohlberg presents a theory according to which morality develops in approximately six stages, though according to his research, few adults actually reach the fifth or sixth stages. In this respect Kohlberg’s theory departs from classic stage theory, as in Piaget, since the sequence of stages does not culminate in the capacity shared by normal adults. However, Kohlberg maintained that no one skips a stage or regresses to an earlier stage. Although Kohlberg sometimes considered the possibility of a seventh or eighth stage, these are his basic six:
Level A. Premoral
Stage 1—Punishment and obedience orientation
Stage 2—Naive instrumental hedonism
Level B. Morality of conventional role conformity
Stage 3—Good-boy morality of maintaining good relations, approval by others
Stage 4—Authority-maintaining morality
Level C. Morality of accepted moral principles
Stage 5—Morality of contract, of individual rights and democratically accepted law
Stage 6—Morality of individual principles of conscience
Kohlberg developed a test, which has been widely used, to determine the stage of any individual at any given time. The test requires responses to ethical dilemmas and is to be scored by consulting an elaborate manual.
One of the most influential critiques of the Kohlberg theory is to be found in Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice (1982). Gilligan argues that Kohlberg’s rule-oriented conception of morality has an orientation toward justice, which she associates with stereotypically male thinking, whereas women and girls are perhaps more likely to approach moral dilemmas with a “care” orientation. One important issue in moral theory that the Kohlberg-Gilligan debate raises is that of the role and importance of moral feelings in the moral life (see the entry on feminist ethics).
Another line of approach to moral development is to be found in the work of Martin Hoffman (1982). Hoffman describes the development of empathetic feelings and responses in four stages. Hoffman’s approach allows one to appreciate the possibility of genuine moral feelings, and so of genuine moral agency, in a very small child. By contrast, Kohlberg’s moral-dilemma tests will assign pre-schoolers and even early elementary-school children to a pre-moral level.
A philosophically astute and balanced assessment of the Kohlberg-Gilligan debate, with appropriate attention to the work of Martin Hoffman, can be found in Pritchard (1991). See also Friedman (1987), Likona (1976), Kagan and Lamb (1987), and Pritchard (1996).
4. Children’s Rights
For a full discussion of children’s interests and children’s rights see the entry on the rights of children.
5. Childhood Agency and Autonomy
Clearly children are capable of goal-directed behavior while still relatively young, and are agents in this minimal sense. Respect for children’s agency is provided in legal and medical contexts, in that children who are capable of expressing their preferences are frequently consulted, even if their views are not regarded as decisive for determining outcomes.
The exercise of childhood agency will obviously be constrained by social and political factors, including various dependency relations, some of them imposed by family structures. Whether there are special ethical rules and considerations that pertain to the family in particular, and, if so, what these rules or considerations are, is the subject of an emerging field we can call ‘family ethics’ (Baylis and Mcleod 2014, Blustein, 1982, Brighouse and Swift 2014, Houlgate, 1980, 1999).
The idea that, in child-custody cases, the preferences of a child should be given consideration, and not just the “best interest” of the child, is beginning to gain acceptance in the U.S., Canada and Europe. “Gregory K,” who at age 12 was able to speak rationally and persuasively to support his petition for new adoptive parents, made a good case for recognizing childhood agency in a family court. (See “Gregory Kingsley” in the Other Internet Resources.) Less dramatically, in divorce proceedings, older children are routinely consulted for their views about proposed arrangements for their custody.
Perhaps the most wrenching cases in which adults have come to let children play a significant role in deciding their own future are those that involve treatment decisions for children with terminal illnesses. (Kopelman and Moskop, 1989) The pioneering work of Myra Bluebond-Langner shows how young children can come to terms with their own imminent death and even conspire, mercifully, to help their parents and caregivers avoid having to discuss this awful truth with them (Bluebond-Langner, 1980).
While family law and medical ethics are domains in which children capable of expressing preferences are increasingly encouraged to do so, there remains considerable controversy within philosophy as to the kind of authority that should be given to children’s preferences. There is widespread agreement that most children’s capacity to eventually become autonomous is morally important and that adults who interact with them have significant responsibility to ensure that this capacity is nurtured (Feinberg 1980). At the same time it is typical for philosophers to be skeptical about the capacity for children under the age of ten to have any capacity for autonomy, either because they are judged not to care stably about anything (Oshana 2005, Schapiro 1999), lack information, experience and cognitive maturity (Levinson 1999, Ross 1998), or are too poor at critical reflection (Levinson 1999).
Mullin (2007, 2014) argues that consideration of children’s capacity for autonomy should operate with a relatively minimal understanding of autonomy as self-governance in the service of what the person cares about (with the objects of care conceived broadly to include principles, relationships, activities and things). Children’s attachment to those they love (including their parents) can therefore be a source of autonomy. When a person, adult or child, acts autonomously, he or she finds the activity meaningful and embraces the goal of the action. This contrasts both with a lack of motivation and with feeling pressured by others to achieve outcomes desired by them. Autonomy in this sense requires capacities for impulse control, caring stably about some things, connecting one’s goals to one’s actions, and confidence that one can achieve at least some of one’s goals by directing one’s actions. It does not require extensive ability to engage in critical self-reflection, or substantive independence. The ability to act autonomously in a particular domain will depend, however, on whether one’s relationships with others are autonomy supporting. This is in keeping with feminist work on relational autonomy. See the entry on Feminist Perspectives on Autonomy.
Children’s autonomy is supported when adults give them relevant information, reasons for their requests, demonstrate interest in children’s feelings and perspectives, and offer children structured choices that reflect those thoughts and feelings. Support for children’s autonomy in particular domains of action is perfectly consistent with adults behaving paternalistically toward them at other times and in other domains, when children are ill-informed, extremely impulsive, do not appreciate the long-term consequences of their actions, cannot recognize what is in their interest, cannot direct their actions to accord with their interests, or are at risk of significant harm (Mullin 2014).
6. The Goods of Childhood
“Refrigerator art,” that is, the paintings and drawings of young children that parents display on the family’s refrigerator, is emblematic of adult ambivalence toward the productions of childhood. Typically, parents are pleased with, and proud of, the art their children produce. But equally typically, parents do not consider the artwork of their children to be good without qualification. Yet, as Jonathan Fineberg has pointed out (Fineberg, 1997, 2006), several of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century collected child art and were inspired by it. It may be that children are more likely as children to produce art, the aesthetic value of which a famous artist or an art historian can appreciate, than they will be able to later as adults.
According to what we have called the “Aristotelian conception”, childhood is an essentially prospective state. On such a view, the value of what a child produces cannot be expected to be good in itself, but only good for helping the child to develop into a good adult. Perhaps some child art is a counterexample to this expectation. Of course, one could argue that adults who, as children, were encouraged to produce art, as well as make music and excel at games, are more likely to be flourishing adults than those who are not encouraged to give such “outlets” to their energy and creativity. But the example of child art should at least make one suspicious of Michael Slote’s claim that “just as dreams are discounted except as they affect (the waking portions of) our lives, what happens in childhood principally affects our view of total lives through the effects that childhood success or failure are supposed to have on mature individuals” (Slote, 1983, 14).
Recent philosophical work on the goods of childhood (Brennan 2014, Macleod 2010) stresses that childhood should not be evaluated solely insofar as it prepares the child to be a fully functioning adult. Instead, a good childhood is of intrinsic and not merely instrumental value. Different childhoods that equally prepare children to be capable adults may be better or worse, depending on how children fare qua children. Goods potentially specific to childhood (or, more likely, of greatest importance during childhood) include opportunities for joyful and unstructured play and social interactions, lack of significant responsibility, considerable free time, and innocence, particularly sexual innocence. Play, for instance, can be of considerable value not only as a means for children to acquire skills and capacities they will need as adults, but also for itself, during childhood.
7. Philosophical Thinking in Children
For a full discussion of this topic see the entry on Philosophy for Children.
8. Moral Status of Children
It is uncontroversial to judge that what Mary Anne Warren terms paradigmatic humans have moral status (Warren 1992). Paradigmatic humans are adults with relatively standard cognitive capacities for self-control, self-criticism, self-direction, and rational thought, and are capable of moral thought and action. However, the grounds for this status are controversial, and different grounds for moral status have direct implications for the moral status of children. Jan Narveson (1988), for instance, argues that children do not have moral status in their own right because only free rational beings, capable of entering into reciprocal relations with one another, have fundamental rights. While Narveson uses the language of rights in his discussion of moral status (people have direct moral duties only to rights holders on his account), moral status need not be discussed in the language of rights. Many other philosophers recognize children as having moral status because of their potential to become paradigmatic humans without committing to children having rights. For instance, Allen Wood writes: “it would show contempt for rational nature to be indifferent to its potentiality in children.” (Wood 1998, 198)
When children are judged to have moral status because of their potential to develop the capacities of paradigmatic adults (we might call these paradigmatic children), this leaves questions about the moral status of those children who are not expected to live to adulthood, and those children whose significant intellectual disabilities compromise their ability to acquire the capacities of paradigmatic adults. There are then three common approaches that grant moral status to non-paradigmatic children (and other non-paradigmatic humans). The first approach deems moral consideration to track species membership. On this approach all human children have moral status simply because they are human (Kittay 2005). This approach has been criticized as being inappropriately speciesist, especially by animal rights activists. The second approach gives moral status to children because of their capacity to fare well or badly, either on straightforwardly utilitarian grounds or because they have subjective experiences (Dombrowski 1997). It has been criticized by some for failing to distinguish between capacities all or almost all human children have that are not also possessed by other creatures who feel pleasure and pain. The third approach gives moral status to non-paradigmatic children because of the interests others with moral status take in them (Sapontzis 1987), or the relationships they have with them (Kittay 2005)
Sometimes the approaches may be combined. For instance Warren writes that young children and other non-paradigmatic humans have moral status for two sorts of reasons: “their rights are based not only on the value which they themselves place upon their lives and well-being, but also on the value which other human beings place on them.” (1992. 197) In addition to these three most common approaches, Mullin (2011) develops a fourth: some non-paradigmatic children (and adults) have moral status not simply because others value them but because they are themselves capable of being active participants in morally valuable relationships with others. These relationships express care for others beyond their serving as means for one’s own satisfaction. Approaches to moral status that emphasize children’s capacity to care for others in morally valuable relationships also raise interesting questions about children’s moral responsibilities within those relationships (see Mullin 2010).
For more on this topic see the entry on the grounds of moral status.
9. Other Issues
The topics discussed above hardly exhaust the philosophy of childhood. Thus we have said nothing about, for example, philosophical literature on personhood as it bears on questions about the morality of abortion, or bioethical discussions about when it is appropriate for parents to consent to children’s participation in medical research or refuse medical treatment of their children. There has been increasing attention in recent years to questions about the appropriate limits of parental authority over children, about the source and extent of parents and the state’s responsibilities for children, and about the moral permissibility of parents devoting substantial resources to advancing the life prospects of their children. These and many other topics concerning children may be familiar to philosophers as they get discussed in other contexts. Discussing them under the rubric, ‘philosophy of childhood,’ as well in the other contexts, may help us see connections between them and other philosophical issues concerning children.
I googled something like, “How do American girls transition to adulthood?” and these dolls popped up all over my screen: Wikipedia says that their original “function” was to “teach girls about American history” through character dolls… hmmmm. First impression? They are UGLY and cheaply made … and they start at $115.00. Look at that bad wig, junky clothing and weird rubbery skin… No wonder American women have poor taste in clothing!
The dolls are supposedly targeting girls age 8-11. Remember from previous post, biological adulthood begins at puberty (age 10-12) for American “girls”…
I’m in shock: Wrong Planet shock.
Photo from Duke Health – group of 10-13 year olds. Biologically, they are adults. Legally they are not. Culturally? Psychologically? Big Questions.
Biological adulthood Wikipedia
Historically and cross-culturally, adulthood has been determined primarily by the start of puberty (the appearance of secondary sex characteristics such as menstruation in women, ejaculation in men, and pubic hair in both sexes). In the past, a person usually moved from the status of child directly to the status of adult, often with this shift being marked by some type of coming-of-age test or ceremony.
After the social construct of adolescence was created, adulthood split into two forms: biological adulthood and social adulthood. Thus, there are now two primary forms of adults: biological adults (people who have attained reproductive ability, are fertile, or who evidence secondary sex characteristics) and social adults (people who are recognized by their culture or law as being adults). Depending on the context, adult can indicate either definition.
Although few or no established dictionaries provide a definition for the two word term biological adult, the first definition of adult in multiple dictionaries includes “the stage of the life cycle of an animal after reproductive capacity has been attained”. Thus, the base definition of the word adult is the period beginning at physical sexual maturity, which occurs sometime after the onset of puberty. Although this is the primary definition of the base word “adult”, the term is also frequently used to refer to social adults. The two-word term biological adult stresses or clarifies that the original definition, based on physical maturity, is being used.
In humans, puberty on average begins around 10–11 years of age for girls and 11–12 years of age for boys, though this will vary from person to person. For girls, puberty begins around 10 or 11 years of age and ends around age 16. Boys enter puberty later than girls – usually around 12 years of age and it lasts until around age 16 or 17 (Or in rare cases 18 and a half).
There seems to be disagreement on the attainment of adulthood: is it at the start or completion of puberty?
More from Duke Health: https://www.dukehealth.org/blog/when-puberty-too-early
When Is Puberty Too Early?
October 01, 2013
Early Puberty in Girls
For girls, puberty is generally considered to be too early if it begins at age seven or eight. African-American and Hispanic girls tend to start puberty slightly earlier than Caucasian girls. The average age of pubertal onset in girls is 10-and-a-half years old, but it ranges from seven to 13 years old. The average age of menarche is 12-and-a-half to 13 years of age. The whole process of puberty should take three to four years.
Rapidly progressing puberty — start to finish in less than two years — can be a concern as well because it can be due to an endocrine disorder
Early Puberty in Boys
For boys, puberty is generally considered too early before the age of nine years. In boys, onset of puberty is from nine to 14 years, but on average starts at 11-and-a-half to 12 years old. The whole process of puberty should take three to four years. Rapidly progressing puberty can also be a concern in males
Preventing Early Puberty
While genetic factors play a role in the early onset of puberty, parents can help delay the environmental causes of early puberty. Preventive measures include:
- Encourage your child to maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid exposure to exogenous hormones like estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, androstenedione that may be found in creams/gels, hair treatments, medications, and nutritional supplements. (And who knows where else these powerful hormones are being used and entering environmental systems)
Here is where we encounter the perils of “socially constructed” opinion about human development: What a mess!
Written By: The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica
Psychological development, the development of human beings’ cognitive, emotional, intellectual, and social capabilities and functioning over the course of the life span, from infancy through old age. It is the subject matter of the discipline known as developmental psychology. Child psychology was the traditional focus of research, but since the mid-20th century much has been learned about infancy and adulthood as well. A brief treatment of psychological development follows. For full treatment, see human behaviour.
Infancy is the period between birth and the acquisition of language one to two years later.
Childhood is the second major phase in human development, childhood, extends from one or two years of age until the onset of adolescence at age 12 or 13.
Adolescence Physically, adolescence begins with the onset of puberty at 12 or 13 and culminates at age 19 or 20 in adulthood.
Hmmm…. a discrepancy of 7-8 YEARS between biological and psychological demarcation for the beginning of adulthood, that is, IF adulthood is the onset of puberty. IF it’s the completion of puberty – the discrepancy is more like 4-5 years.
But! We now have a serious problem: the socially constructed stage called adolescence, interferes with, and contradicts, the biological transition from pre-reproductive childhood, to reproductive adult with no clear transition at all. The result is chaos in education, legal jurisdiction, sex-reproduction-parenting, health, nutrition and behavioral expectations!
Adulthood is a period of optimum mental functioning when the individual’s intellectual, emotional, and social capabilities are at their peak to meet the demands of career, marriage, and children. Some psychologists delineate various periods and transitions in early to middle adulthood that involve crises or reassessments of one’s life and result in decisions regarding new commitments or goals. During the middle 30s people develop a sense of time limitation, and previous behaviour patterns or beliefs may be given up in favour of new ones.
Wow! Just how does a person between the ages of 10-20 years old negotiate this bizarre disconnect between a developmental paradigm “invented” by psychologists, and the physical reality of the human body?
One might expect individual cultures to “help” with this vital transition…
How the American legal system defines adult status is a crucial cultural factor.
Adult: A person who by virtue of attaining a certain age, generally eighteen, is regarded in the eyes of the law as being able to manage his or her own affairs.
Wow! Highly optimistic and unrealistic in American culture, which overwhelmingly advocates for the indefinite postponement of adulthood…
Note that American education does little to nothing to prepare children, adolescents, and now “emerging adults” (a new category of underdeveloped Homo sapiens that is MEASURED BY the subjective “feeling” of being adult) for these sudden legal and financial facts of life. This dithering over adult status is the “privilege” of the wealth classes; poor and minority children too often become “instant adults” – in a jail cell.
The age specified by law, called the legal age of majority, indicates that a person acquires full legal capacity to be bound by various documents, such as contracts and deeds, that he or she makes with others and to commit other legal acts such as voting in elections and entering marriage. The age at which a person becomes an adult varies from state to state and often varies within a state, depending upon the nature of the action taken by the person. Thus, a person wishing to obtain a license to operate a motor vehicle may be considered an adult at age sixteen, but may not reach adulthood until age eighteen for purposes of marriage, or age twenty-one for purposes of purchasing intoxicating liquors.
Anyone who has not reached the age of adulthood is legally considered an infant. (!! Really?) West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
A Valentine tradition….