Developmental Factors

Developmental factors play and important role in learning. Development is the process of potentiality becoming actuality. The basic human capacities of loving, knowing and willing seek expression in life. At conception, unique genetic potentialities are endowed upon each person. In nine months that person goes through millions of years of evolutionary development, from a microscopic cell to a fully developed infant capable of living outside the womb. For its development to continue, it must leave the womb and enter this world where it can continue its growth and development process. As educators, we can assist children to develop properly by helping them realize their capacities using the accumulated wisdom of the ages. As young people grow in competence, they are able to take increasing responsibility for their own process of development and becoming.

Differentiation, integration and generalization are the processes of learning and development, whether it is physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially or spiritually. This process starts at the moment of conception and continues throughout life. Learning in early life becomes the foundation for and affects later stages of development. In whatever way a tree is bent, it will grow. Therefore, early growth, development and education are vital to future well-being and it is important that parents and society provide the best opportunities for infants and young children to realize their potentials.

All living things go through different stages or degrees of maturity. At each new stage, new powers and capacities are evident. A plant reaches maturity when it bears fruit, an animal when it is grown and functioning, and a human when the capacities of truth, love and justice are sufficiently developed. The different stages that individuals, groups and humanity collectively go through are analogous to one another. The developmental stages most commonly accepted are infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood. If we understand these developmental stages, we can better assist others to develop to their level and to move toward the next.

Infants should receive love, knowledge, rights and responsibilities according to their powers and capacities. As they grow and develop, entering into childhood, further training and education according to their maturity level are needed. In puberty and youth, the limitations of childhood give way to new energies and abilities, calling for new conditions, requirements and education. In adulthood, we continue our growth and development utilizing our maturing powers. It is toward this autonomous, conscious and responsible use and development of potentialities that parents and educators are to be directing young people.

Teachers need to know when, what and how to help students develop their faculties. Educators need to be like doctors diagnosing and prescribing what is needed for each stage of development. If children are not properly developed, have some bad traits or are lacking in some quality, they should be patiently trained, healed and remedied, not oppressed, criticized and censured. Encourage children to make the greatest progress in the shortest time. Growth and development are somewhat dependent on age, but the powers and efforts of the person can facilitate their expression. The more we persevere and strive, the greater the progress and development. An environment where individuals are realizing their potential by developing their capacities is dynamic and energized, thus engendering the ongoing developmental process.


About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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