Developmental Theories of Learning

The developmental theories of Piaget, Vygotsky, Erikson, and Kohlberg are foundational for educating children effectively and appropriately. Piaget and Vygotsky focused on cognitive development. Erikson’s theory centered on the psychosocial development of children. Kohlberg as well as Piaget theorized the moral development of children. I can see how some of these theories have played out in real life, whether it is other people or I. I can definitely how Erikson’s theory applied in my life, particularly stages V (12 and 18, identity vs. role confusion) and VI (young adulthood, intimacy vs. isolation). During the first half of my time in college, I was in the age range of stage VI and I was dealing with the conflict of attempting to figure out who I was, especially in the context of my peer group. By the time of my junior year of college, I had a better idea of who I was and what I wanted to be, so my attention shifted toward developing stronger connections to the people around me. The strengthening of these personal and professional relationships has been an ongoing process for me.

I have also witnessed how these theories can come into play in the classroom, or the lack of strategies based in these theories. Each of these theories makes a point of teachers taking into consideration where each student is when developing the curriculum. There may be some situations when teachers may not be equipped to do so. I evaluated a GED class over the summer and one of the complaints that the teacher had was that he did not have time in the class to figure out each student’s level of competence and thus it was difficult for him to develop a strategy for effectively reaching all of the students and teaching to their strengths. What that situation indicated to me is that while theories can be helpful in determining what should happen in the classroom, I also believe that these theories may need to be considered applicable to best case scenarios in which the teacher is actually provided with enough to implement these practices.


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