This paper considers education as the fulfilment of a person's overall potential as a human being. It thus concentrates on the multiplicity of factors which interact and interweave to produce ulfilled, caring members of our society. The whole notion of child development can only be understood within a cultural context. As Mead (1932) showed, child rearing practices differ from culture to culture and the role of adults in that culture has a strong influence on the type of activity in which their young offspring engage. For example, playing at mothers and fathers will obviously eflect the different functions that adults are
expected to perform in real life.
Culture also has a strong influence on the concept of spirituality and the moral precepts that flow from it which are reflected in the children's play. Harrington (1996), Kohlberg (1987), Piaget (1932) and others have all alluded to the moral dimension of a child's personality. Much of this development can take place through play. Likewise, the whole area of the child's emotions can be analysed and enhanced using play therapy. Psychotherapists such as Freud (1935) and Jung (1966) have written much about the function of play in a cathartic capacity, and experiments such as those of Isaacs (1932) would seem to confIrm these fmdings . Social development, therefore, fits the child for its culture.
Physical development can be seen in the light of social concomitants such as housing, family and legislation or in the medical domain concerning nutrition, anti- and post-natal care and the correction or treatment of abnormalities and, likewise, these facilities are the result of a given culture. If the social context determines the form that play shall take, the brain has a strong influence on its quality. Without a brain, human beings could not speak, yet speech is also culturally or socially determined. However, there is a medical and cognitive dimension to speech. In the first case, there can be some abnormality of the vocal organs or the part of the brain that controls speech while, in the second, the person has to think in order to say something sensible. Play enables the child to interact with others and it is only through such social interaction that speech occurs. Socio-dramatic play, however, requires further qualities - those of imagination and creativity. Cognitive functioning can thus be viewed as social in one dimension while at the same time also being egocentric.
This paper outlines and analyses many of the theoretical arguments which underpin our
current understanding of child development upon which future policy initiatives are contingent.
Horgan, Mary and Douglas, Francis
"Where Angels Fear to Tread,"
Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies:
1, Article 1.
Available at: http://arrow.dit.ie/ijass/vol1/iss1/1