Cognitive Development or Physical Development - what is the difference?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TeacherShelly, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Dear Patient Teachers,

    I genuinely want to know where my thinking has diverged from yours (if true), and would love an answer to the question below. It is from another thread of mine that took a turn and never returned. Thank you in advance!

     
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  3. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    No training would make a kid taller, but it might make him stronger, within the limits inheritance and history have set.

    The cognitive I take to be analogous to strength, but not to height.

    I have no idea how relevant the foregoing is to your question! lol
     
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I would say the main difference is that there is a range of possible performance at any given age with particular areas of cognitive performance. So, with the prefrontal cortex (which governs various executive functions), we can promote development within a certain range. For example, we might have high expectations and expect kids to manage 3 independent tasks instead of 2 within a 15 minute range in the first grade. Expecting them to manage an hour of independent work is probably beyond that range, and would be developmentally inappropriate.

    By contrast, height is set - you're either 6 feet tall or you're not. In addition, height is not amenable to practice - one can't get taller by practicing some skill. On the other hand, one can get better at various executive functions by practicing, within a reasonable range.

    Part of the nuance here is that academic skill development is not completely governed by cognitive development, but also by things such as practice and teacher expectation. There is a range, but it is not completely physically determined. Height is.

    Perhaps a better example would be running speed. There are going to be some physical limitations by age with running speed, but there is a spectrum of potential skill development with any given age and level of physical development. So, it makes sense to have higher expectations (within reason).
     
  5. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Thank you both! Truly...

    What if we knew that the height of 5th graders ranged within 4 inches. We knew that some kids were the full height at that age, and some were not. Adult height is not predetermined - there are certainly variables - even my identical twins are not the exact same height right now.

    At the same time, the 5th graders were expected to know something that is impossible unless the brain has developed to a certain point. Is there anything that is impossible to learn until the brain components are developed? I'll have to look to see what any of those things might be. Assuming it is not possible for 10% of the 5th graders, should we focus on their inability and give them extra practice and ask them to try harder?

    This is what I'm talking about. Am I making any sense?
     
  6. Pashtun

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    Jun 25, 2013

    Kudos for you to raising and trying to start some in depth academic discussions.
     
  7. EdEd

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    The question would be whether any intervention is known to work with increasing height. I suppose malnutrition might significantly decrease it, but short of that I'm not sure there is much environmental influence on height. Even if there were, I'm not sure that "higher expectations" would make sense as effort wouldn't really be involved.

    I think there's no question that some things are just too difficult at certain ages, but I think this becomes a more difficult question to answer when we're talking about shifting standards/expectations forward or back by small increments. For example, while most 5th graders probably couldn't do HS calculus, they probably could do 6th grade math under the right conditions. I think the best way to approach it would probably be to take each expectation on a case by case basis when considering implementing it. So, if the math standards are going to change for 5th grade, considering those specific expectations.

    As a general rule, though, I don't think there is a magical age or grade at which all children suddenly go through a cognitive shift therefore making it possible for certain skills to be taught. It's probably looking at which percentage of children seem to be able to grasp the skill, for example, as you mentioned in your comments.

    If they are close enough that we believe they can acquire the skill with enough practice and effort, I think that makes sense.

    I guess overall I'm saying that standards and pacing should be based on what we know (based on research/experience) that kids can learn at which age, and what makes sense in terms of the scope & sequence (e.g., which skills should be taught first) - not based on cognitive stages. Cognitive stages are too variant and don't provide enough precision to determine exact standards and pacing within a year or even within a few years, perhaps with a few exceptions.
     
  8. TeacherShelly

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    Jun 25, 2013

    Thank you ... :thanks:
     
  9. TeacherShelly

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    Not sure... because of my daughters. One began life bigger than the other, and now the little one is bigger.



    I still can't find my Chip Wood Yardsticks book. I can't get in my classroom to get my other copy because of summer school. I am reading about Learning Trajectories which include a learning goal, a psychologically developmental path to the goal, and activities to help move the student along the path. This is fascinating to me because it is both practical and theoretical.



    How can we ignore cognitive stages, though? Here's another example: zero tolerance rules for children's behavior. Kids do things without thinking - they are impulsive and sometimes go for attention without thinking the consequences through. Should we then suspend them? Even though their brains are not fully grown in the areas that control impulses? This is different from a kid who has a disability in this area, I'm talking about a normally developing kid who makes a gun shape out of her hand and says BANG at someone.
     
  10. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    In what book are you reading about learning trajectories? I find it fascinating as well - just ordered Chip Wood's Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom.
     
  11. TeacherShelly

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    :) Try this for a start:
    http://www.cpre.org/ccii/images/stories/ccii_pdfs/learning trajectories in math_ccii report.pdf

    There is a sample mathematics trajectory in Appendix A.

    My coworker has a book - it's like $35 so I have avoided buying my own copy - but when I get her to loan it to me I will tell you the name.
     
  12. TeacherShelly

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    Also, pwhatley, PM me for a 16 page PDF about learning trajectories for kids up to age 8.
     
  13. EdEd

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    That does sound interesting - I'm not familiar with that particular book.

    I definitely think our academic & behavioral expectations should be developmentally appropriate, but I'm not sure that everything falls into a particular "cognitive stage." The idea of cognitive stages is that cognitive development is relatively static (or slowly changing) for a period of time, then rapidly shifts to a new stage. Piaget's ideas fall in this category of thinking. Impulse control doesn't really fit into this model from my understanding and experience, because impulse control is falls more under a continuous development model. Not saying there may not be some spurts here and there, but for the most part kids/teens/adults gradually develop the cognitive capacity for impulse control.

    I could be totally misreading your idea of "cognitive stages" though - is that what you're referring to, or do you think we're on the same page?

    In terms of behavior/suspension, I think kids do have the cognitive maturity to comprehend their behavior and consequences, again within reason. Even though they haven't fully developed their impulse control, they have some impulse control, and we support development in that area by providing learning and practice opportunities.

    I think the key is to consider specifics - does a suspension make sense for a second grader? To me, no. That punishment is too long and won't have any greater impact than a far less invasive punishment given the child's cognitive development. However, suspension may make sense for a 7th grader because that child might have the abstract thinking skills in place to connect day 3 of suspension with his/her behavior 4 days before.
     
  14. EdEd

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