Posted: November 7th, 2023
Take Home Final Exam
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November 7, 2023
Take Home Final Exam
Children are conceptualized as evaluative and evolving in nature. What a pre-school child does is often a reflection of what they have observed from others and the environment. Commenting on whether what they saw was good, bad, or indifferent. Psychology and ethics are often used as the philosophical lenses through which society studies individual functioning in children, determining if their acts are healthy, right, or wrong. However, the course materials convey that such a two-dimensional view cannot explain human action or reasoning fully. The ‘individual’ is a construct and an outcome of social, cultural, historical, and institutional influences. Even though there is a continuous effort to study and understand individual functioning, it is imperative that academia first acknowledge the various factors that underpin human experiences. While children exhibit differences in individual identities and functioning, their development and behaviours likely occur within a continuity of external influences, thus eroding the feasibility of the notion of human free will and necessitating more complex units of analysis for human action.
Understanding Human Action
History of sociological research establishes that there is a big difference between human action and acts of man in children’s functioning. The latter occurs naturally, and man does not have control over them, such as blood circulation. However, as Cong-Lem (2022) asserts in his review of Vygotsky’s concept of ‘prezhivanie,’ human actions tend to be developed through psychological processes that draw on past experiences. The philosopher believed that children use past experiences in unique ways to create alternatives and potential futures. The description indicates that human action is a social construct under the control of human will. For example, if a child finds themselves in a situation that led them to being punished by their teacher, they would use their past experience to determine whether they would engage in the same behaviours or actions. The scenario shows that there is knowledge gathering in human action, but its actuation is determined by the individual’s will. How afraid the child is influences their willingness to engage in the same behaviour. Therefore, will is a concept that needs to be included in the analysis of individual functioning.
Sociological research on individual representation posits that intelligence influences children’s identity formation and behaviour. In his analysis of creativity in arts, Vygotsky hypothesized that skill development is a form of human action because it embodies symbolic, materialistic, and peer influences (Glaveanu, 2015). The artist chooses how they move between the different social influences to establish their imaginative constructs or produce new perspectives. The use of will involves making a choice, which, in turn, implies a person has the knowledge to inform their decisions. The suggestion is that the act of knowing is involuntary. Children gather knowledge from different human interactions, but their will determines their willingness to apply (Glaveanu, 2015). Individual functioning will not occur if the child does not have sufficient knowledge of the aspired object or subject. A child will not commit to an action if they are unfamiliar with it, including its value and purpose. The understanding is that judgment has to be included in knowledge for human action to take place. Consequently, sociological research must include the rules that influence children’s judgment in evaluations of adult action.
The emotional aspect in children is stronger than it adults, adding to the complexity of evaluating their individual functioning. Course material on mediated action hypothesized that it is intellect that informs children’s will on whether an action is good or wrong. However, children will base their judgment on the suitability of the action is based on a significant degree of reflection (Tappan, 2007). Children, as all human beings, consider all the elements that influence the morality of an act, drawing conclusions based on how the deed made them or others feel. A child will be emotionally compelled not to repeat an action if its execution or outcome is perceived as immoral (Tappan, 2007). The child who has already been reprimanded for noise making in class is more compelled to adhere to classroom rules on silence because of their preceding experience with punishment. The degree of emotional compulsion determines the extent to which a person is willing to perform or commit to an action. An analysis of human behaviour that fails to consider human emotions produces a flawed understanding of individual functioning.
Individual functioning is based on external rules because society and culture determine what constitutes a human moral action. A young learner might have the knowledge, will, and emotional impetus to commit a particular deed, but they must still reflect on its permissibility (Tappan, 2007). Society will look at several factors when making this determination. As Zittoun et al. (2020) highlight in the criticism of imagination among artists, society focuses on the object of an act, the context of the act, and the intention of the individual behind the deed. The object can be perceived as the primary basis of moral judgment. For instance, a teacher might tell preschool children not to leave class at evening, but once the siren blows, the young learners will infer on its meaning and start walking out of class. The circumstance or the context determines the necessity of human action (Tappan, 2007). Context implies necessity should be a factor considered in the multivariate analysis of human behaviour. The intent highlights the purpose of an action, which should also be considered in examinations of individual functioning.
Free Will in Individual Functioning?
The various external influences on human action posit that the concept of free will does not apply when discussing individual functioning in early child development. The course materials poke holes in the belief that human freedom exists when making moral judgments. There is reason to believe that preceding events mostly condition children’s action. Vygotsky’s critique of artistic imagination is largely based on the argument that it is all created from memory or experiences (Glaveanu, 2015). Children’s action is based on their understanding of things, how they feel, and intended outcomes. Unknown to them, will is a construct that exists between knowledge acquisition, human emotions, and desired objectives. How much information a child has determines the choice they can make. How much the child feels about a situation determines whether they will make the choice. Important to note is that emotions are the outcomes of external events.
The fact that people, specifically children, are unaware of their lack of freedom when consistently making moral choices further underpins the need for more complex units of analysis for human action. Such a statement does not deny or refute the existence of free will or the capacity for people to make their own choices. Instead, the statement acknowledges the concept of causality and how it could influence human action more than free will. Given that both causality and free will interplay in individual functioning, there is room to believe that it is impossible to come up with an objective framework for assessing human action. The human condition is under a constant state of change and undue influences that make it highly difficult to conceptualize such a model.
Human action is too dynamic and complex to be understood by simple, two-dimensional units of analysis. People exist within a continuity of external influences, with culture and society setting most rules for what constitutes moral action. Such rules are what people infer when gathering knowledge to base an action. Even with this knowledge, a person must have the will to actuate it into tangible deeds. Emotional intensity determines the strength of will, meaning a direct influence on the likelihood to actuate an act. A more complex unit of analysis is required to answer when individual functioning is more likely to be based on free will or external influences. To answer the conditions that make free will more applicable to given situations than moral reasoning. Unfortunately, even if such a comprehensive analytical framework is developed, it will likely become obsolete quickly because human nature evolves.
Children’s voices are often considered unpredictable and messy, resulting in little emphasis on their expression and experiences. While the concept of voice is often raised in conversations regarding student agency and empowerment, minimal research has been done on the dynamics of children’s voices and the sociocultural factors underpinning their development. Existing scientific evidence posits that children appropriate and mimic the authoritative voices of educators, parents, and popular culture as they familiarize themselves with social practices. However, children also display varying levels of commitment to voices, making appropriation an accumulative exercise within the intersections of personal and group experiences. Understanding voice’s nature, use, and importance to children is key to rounded child development. Given that voice represents the spoken consciousness of the child, it must be included in curriculum development to support holistic learning in environments characterized by cultural variations in meaning-making.
Sociocultural Configuration of Voice
Voice is a multilayered social practice influenced by the interplay of different dialogic factors. In his assessment of Mikhail Bakhtin’s description of voice, White (2021) comes across the concept of utterance, which is perceived as a layer of appropriation and reproduction. The child will observe and absorb utterances because they are small and direct, such as a teacher’s ‘shsss.’ The child can associate the utterance with the teacher because of the response it elucidates in the classroom. Later, the child will apply the same utterance to invoke the teacher’s character and add anecdotes of their experience with the educator. Bakhtin suggests that the result is a recreation of voices in a dialogue that expresses alignment between the child and the invoked character (White, 2021). Voices become a process involving taking on the character’s social values and stances via appropriation. The child’s agency is observed in how they stylize, assess, and frame the other voices in their reported speech.
Voice is a situated social practice. Children’s meaning-making and expression of voice tend to infer situations and spaces. Shayan’s (2022) assessment of children’s early development highlights the use of inferences in speech. The children would infer social features, like school policies, educator-organized games, and popular culture. The tendency to infer indicates an indexical relationship between inferred words in children’s talk and observable features in their sociocultural contexts. Such an understanding could explain how children conclude that terms such as ‘there,’ ‘then,’ or ‘here’ refer to place and time. The situation or context of social practice makes children’s voices highlight resonant with characters (White, 2021). For instance, a child gets to associate the home environment more with the father because he hears him say, “This is my house; here is where I build my home.” The ability for voice to be situated contributes to children’s ability to make moral stances. The child who associates the home with the father is less likely to tolerate any actions that damage or limit access to the structure.
The situated aspect of voice is why there are cultural variations in vocal production, meaning-making, and perception among children. Cultural differences and universals interplay to influence children’s understanding of different words (Shayan, 2022). There are also variations in inferences, resulting in differences in what is considered good, bad, or acceptable. The differences affirm Vygotsky’s conceptualization of the relationship between the environment and children’s psychological development. Children’s behaviour, in this case, speech, results from what they observe from who and from where (Cong-Lem, 2022). Understanding the ‘situated-ness’ of voice is key to the education system establishing respect for cultural variations in curriculum development. Curriculum developers learn to focus on listening to the voices and evaluating the different factors underpinning their development.
Voice in Enhancing Curriculum Design
Curriculum design has to account for the borrowing and appropriation of voices that take place between educators and students and between students. Mikhail Bakhtin’s description of voice as collective consciousness indicates educators’ obligation to acquire and rephrase children’s words by integrating educational specificities (Gaever & Jones, 2021). Facilitating holistic learning in young students should entail realigning their voices with preferred characters, such as the head teacher. Rephrasing is emphasized because the Social Constructivist Theory posits that children learn through conversations (Gindis, 2003). Reshaping the words that children use contributes to them seeking new knowledge on the subject. The approach enriches the dialogues between the educator and the children, enhancing appropriation, which in turn improves the accomplishment of curriculum objectives. The implication is for educators to employ voice as a driver of academic achievements among young learners.
Curriculum design can use the concept of appropriation in voice to determine the children’s level of commitment to educational authority. The degree to which children appropriate a character displays their commitment to the individual (White, 2021). Besides internalizing and replicating voices from conversations with teachers, young learners will also appropriate the voices in the educational environment. For example, when conversing with each other, students will rephrase the principal’s instructions, such as submitting the attendance sheet. Such an appropriation of the educator’s voice indicates a commitment to authority. Therefore, voice can be applied as an educational concept for helping learners induct each other into school procedures, policies, and practices. Replicating and rephrasing relevant educator voices will direct their activities and behaviours, as socially accepted.
Having a voice is essential for children that require education support services. It is essential that kids, especially from ethnic minority backgrounds, appropriate suitable voices to benefit from enhanced wellbeing, understanding of curricula, and protection from general harm. Bakhtin’s understanding of child development hypothesized that voice is a prerequisite for accepting alterity in the cultural variations in voice (White, 2021). A comprehensive assessment of children’s voices allows educators to understand their state of being, including their otherness. A curriculum development process that includes the children’s knowledge will more effectively identify issues that need fixing. Voice will help educators discern when the child perceives their knowledge or experiences are not appreciated by relevant adults. As a result, there is a better chance that they will be accepted and that the curriculum will have insight into the different situations that impact child participation in learning. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of using voice in curriculum design is heavily reliant on having a valid instructor or guardian to rephrase words and build inferences through structured dialogues.
Voice remains a common research topic in sociological studies as it entails spaces for collective child representation in academia. Course materials affirm that children’s voices tend to be dialogic, appropriated from relevant social authorities, and institutionally configured. The words spoken, the person speaking them, and the place of dialoguing all interplay and contribute to the social configuration of voice. The relationship highlights the importance of educators and parents being aware of how they rephrase and use words to ensure the appropriation of healthy and positive instructions. The appropriated voices will greatly impact the children’s future speaking consciousness. With this understanding, giving young learners opportunities to be heard is essential to reveal their state of being. Their voices will indicate their level of commitment to instruction, which, in turn, reveals the effectiveness of curriculum design and development. Moreover, understanding the interplay of factors behind the causality of children’s voices will be more informative to curriculum development since it facilitates addressing academic disparities impacting young learners.
Cong-Lem, N. (2022). The relation between environment and psychological development: Unpacking Vygotsky’s influential concept of Perezhivanie. Human Arenas, 1. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42087-022-00314-6
Giæver, K., & Jones, L. (2021). Putting Arendt, Bakhtin and atmosphere to work: Exploring different paths concerning the language development of multilingual children. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 22(2), 183-194.
Gindis, B. (2003). Remediation through education: Sociocultural theory and children with special needs. In A. Kozulin, B. Gindis, V. S. Ageyev, & Miller S. M. (Eds.), Vygotsky’s Educational Theory in Cultural Context (pp. 200-221). Cambridge University Press.
Glăveanu, V. P. (2018). The sociocultural study of creative action. In A. Rosa & J. Vaalsiner (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Sociocultural Psychology (pp. 163-177). Cambridge University Press.
Shayan, T. (2022). The culture of childhood in (and) spaces of resistance. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 23(2), 122-138.
Tappan. M. B. (2007). Moral functioning as mediated action. Journal of Moral Education, 35(1), 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057240500495203
White, E. J. (2021). Mikhail Bakhtin: A two-faced encounter with child becoming(s) through dialogue. Early Child Development and Care, 191(7-8), 1277-1286.
Zittoun, T., Glăveanu, V. P., & Hawlina, H. (2020). A sociocultural perspective on imagination. In A. Abraham (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Imagination (pp. 143-161). Cambridge University Press.
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