Discuss the significance of developmental psychology for teachers.

Knowledge of developmental psychology is crucial for any teacher if they want to be able to plan and deliver successful lessons when working with a certain age group.

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Developmental psychology is a significant tool for a teacher. It provides them with a credible framework to address the needs of students and to educate them in a way that reflects the way in which they learn most effectively.

Moving on to specifics, think about how developmental psychology has helped...

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Developmental psychology is a significant tool for a teacher. It provides them with a credible framework to address the needs of students and to educate them in a way that reflects the way in which they learn most effectively.

Moving on to specifics, think about how developmental psychology has helped people understand that children learn best when they see how what they’re learning connects to everyday life.

A teacher might use this discovery to better teach their students about math. If a teacher is instructing their young students how to add, developmental psychology should propel them to do more than just say, "five plus five equals ten." A teacher, under the influence of developmental psychology, could devise a lesson plan that puts this knowledge into a compelling context. A teacher might create a story in which a young person with five Skittles acquires five more Skittles. Now, the students should see how addition relates to real-life circumstances.

Regardless of the creativity of their lesson plans, a teacher could find they’re having trouble reaching a student. Developmental psychology can be used to effectively deal with a student who’s having a hard time learning. Perhaps the student doesn’t think that they have the ability to learn. The teacher can remedy this by treating the student like they have the same capacity to learn as any other student. They can, according to developmental psychology, give the student confidence.

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Firstly, in order to help you answer this question, I would like to point out that a teacher needs to have knowledge of the current status of their students' brain development in order to be able to plan and provide lessons that are suitable for their students' current developmental stage. This is where developmental psychology comes in: developmental psychology provides knowledge of brain development throughout the different stages in life.

For example, very young children do not have the ability to think in abstract terms, as their brains have not reached that ability yet. This is crucial knowledge for a teacher, because a teacher needs to take that into account for their lessons. In this example, a teacher would need to ensure that the lesson content relies on clear and straightforward content and activities, as the children would struggle to learn and engage in a lesson where the content is too abstract for their current developmental stage.

An example for this could be a math lesson where a teacher is trying to teach addition. A teacher of younger students who is a aware of their students' current mental developmental stage might choose to use actual items, such as wooden bricks, to explain the topic of addition in a more accessible way. In this scenario, a good teacher would know that just looking at numbers written on a board would be far too abstract for younger learners. Learning about addition by looking at actual bricks being added up, on the other hand, would be a much more useful learning experience for these learners.

Another example you might want to consider is the development of the ability to comprehend implied content. We have found out through psychological research that the ability to understand implied content develops over time within children and needs to be practiced. Therefore, an English teacher, for example, needs to design tasks in their lessons that practice that skill if they want their students to be able to deal with comprehension questions. If the students are not yet at the right developmental stage to be able to deal with comprehending implied messages in a text, then they will need a lot more support and guidance in their lessons than older and more mature students.

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Developmental psychology is of prime importance to teachers.  Our knowledge of the developmental stages of our students enables us to tailor our curricula, our lessons, our teaching strategies, our assessments, and our expectations to the stages our students are in. People develop along different dimensions, cognitive, social, physical, and I like to add moral, so at any given moment, students may be highly developed in one dimension and not particularly developed in another.  All of this must be taken into consideration by a teacher. Let me give you a few examples concerning cognitive development.

Jean Piaget was a theorist who offered a theory of cognitive development that is of great use to teachers. He posited that there were several stages children go through, and until they are at a particular stage of development, they are incapable of learning certain concepts. The most striking example of this for me is pouring water from a container of one shape and size to a container of another shape and size. Until a child has reached the concrete operational stage, the child will report that the second container holds a different quantity than the first. For a teacher to try to teach a child that there is a constancy in quantity is an impossibility until the child reaches that stage.  This theory has great utility, particularly for the elementary to middle-school teacher. 

Vygotsky had a concept he called the zone of proximal development (ZPG). This concept is equally useful to the teacher in planning and expectations.  The idea is that children's development always rests on what went before, such that if there are inadequate underpinnings of knowledge or experience, a new idea or experience cannot "stick." It has nothing to stick to! When we plan our teaching, we therefore do something called "scaffolding," to be sure that what we are presenting builds on knowledge and experience that is already there. Picture trying to build a third floor on a house if you have not built the first and second already.  Vygotsky's idea is that learning is like that, too, and that as students develop, we want to build on to what is present and push ahead just a little bit at a time developmentally. 

These are two of the developmental theory greats in education, but there are others as well, and no teacher should enter the classroom without some grounding in these important theories of development. 

 

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