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  #1  
Old 06-25-2013, 10:15 AM
TeacherShelly TeacherShelly is offline
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Cognitive Development or Physical Development - what is the difference?

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!

Quote:
What if we held all children to physical standards and were not satisfied with a range of heights at grade 5? What if there was a lower benchmark to hit, and we all believed the kids would rise to meet the expectations?

How is this different from expecting them to finish their pre-frontal cortexes by the time they turn 20? If we learned that with practice, they could speed up the growth of the prefrontal cortex, would we make them do that? Why?
What is the difference between a cognitive development and a physical development in the example I gave here?
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  #2  
Old 06-25-2013, 10:42 AM
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TeachOn TeachOn is offline
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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
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  #3  
Old 06-25-2013, 10:47 AM
EdEd EdEd is offline
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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).
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Old 06-25-2013, 11:53 AM
TeacherShelly TeacherShelly is offline
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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?
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Old 06-25-2013, 12:35 PM
Pashtun Pashtun is offline
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Kudos for you to raising and trying to start some in depth academic discussions.
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  #6  
Old 06-25-2013, 01:05 PM
EdEd EdEd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeacherShelly View Post
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.
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.

Quote:
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.
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.

Quote:
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?
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.
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Old 06-25-2013, 05:01 PM
TeacherShelly TeacherShelly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pashtun View Post
Kudos for you to raising and trying to start some in depth academic discussions.
Thank you ...
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  #8  
Old 06-25-2013, 05:09 PM
TeacherShelly TeacherShelly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdEd View Post
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.
Not sure... because of my daughters. One began life bigger than the other, and now the little one is bigger.



Quote:
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.
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.



Quote:
...snip...
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.
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.
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  #9  
Old 06-25-2013, 05:58 PM
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pwhatley pwhatley is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeacherShelly View Post
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.
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.
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Old 06-25-2013, 06:14 PM
TeacherShelly TeacherShelly is offline
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Originally Posted by pwhatley View Post
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.
Try this for a start:
http://www.cpre.org/ccii/images/stor...i%20report.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.
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