Monday, 27 October 2014

What is development? Defining for a purpose. (5P30)

Teaching, Learning, Development:
What is development? Defining for a purpose.

“Our main critique of a traditional notion of development is that it has been assumed that development is independent of an observer. We argue that development is a social construction emerging in and among communities of practice” (Matusov, Hayes, & Drye, 2007, p.1).

In an attempt to fully understand the scope of the field I am researching under (Teaching, Learning, and Development), defining the broad discourse that falls under each of these concepts will assist in conceptualizing my work. During my undergraduate education classes and pre-service education, I was exposed to many opportunities to discuss, reflect, and define learning and teaching. I had previously assumed that the scope of what development encompasses was a concise, easy to define term used to enhance our understanding of teaching and learning. After reading Matusov, Hayes, & Drye’s article Whose Development?Salvaging the concept of development within a sociocultural approach toeducation, I was able to see that defining the discourse of development was more complicated than I had anticipated.

I am wondering how does education fit into the scope of development? Three differing angles to this debate have fueled education research on the development of students. Piaget believed that development was a constraint for education which cautions educators against implementing curricula and instruction that lay outside the student’s developmental stage. Where Vygotsky believed in the zone of proximal development in which more capable peers, adults, or a sociocultural activity (e.g. play) engage a child in more advanced actions than he or she would have done on their own and thus defines the child’s development (Matusov, Hayes, & Drye, 2007, p.2).  Third, there is also the belief that development is a self-organizing dynamic system that pulls focus to the emergence of stable patterns of relations. This view of development shifts focus from the student (how much they learn/how they behave) to the student’s emerging relationships (with peers, teachers and parents as ‘hidden curricula’ of education) (Matusov, Hayes, & Drye, 2007, p.3). 

The paper reviewed here examines the traditional notion or development and then provides an alternate, sociocultural view to development as a response to defining development in education and psychology. The traditional notion of development assumes that development is independent of an observer. What is common among these attempts to define development is how its observers define development, thus playing an integral part of the development of development. Defining development as something that is tangible and is effected by observers/outsiders allows education to apply pedagogical actions to enhance certain developmental phenomenon specific to the sociocultural aspects of the school/board/classroom. I would be interested in incorporating a more comprehensive understanding and definition of development in my future qualitative arts-informed research.

Matsuov, E., Hayes, R., & Drye, S. (2007). Whose Development? Salvaging the concept of development within a sociocultural approach to education. Educational Theory, 57(4), 1-8.

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