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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development (2002)

Chapter: Appendix A Fundamental Principles of Human Development

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A Fundamental Principles of Human Development." National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. 2002. Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10022.
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APPENDIX A
Fundamental Principles of Human Development

Human development is a complex process involving many influences interacting with each other in a cumulative fashion over time. These influences range from individuals’ unique genetic makeup and genetically scripted maturational sequences to the political, historical, and cultural forces that shape the settings in which they live and mature. Bronfenbrenner (Bronfenbrenner and Morris, 1998) and others (e.g., Baltes et al., 1998; Cairns, 1998; Elder, 1998; Damon and Lerner, 1998; Magnusson and Stattin, 1998; Rutter et al., 1998) have stressed the complexity of these interacting systems in development; these complexities are described in detail in Chapter 2. These complex characteristics of development make heterogeneity the norm at both individual and social levels. At any one point in time, individuals of the same age will vary greatly in their abilities, their values and interests, their needs, and their social and institutional relationships and connections. To be successful at promoting positive youth development, community programs must find ways to both accommodate and make use of these heterogeneities.

Two other properties of human development are critical to the design of community programs for youth. First,

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A Fundamental Principles of Human Development." National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. 2002. Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10022.
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there are regularities in the sequence of development across time (e.g., Erikson, 1968; Piaget, 1971; Vygotsky, 1962). These regularities are assumed to result from three primary sources: (1) the genetically scripted maturational processes linked to such physical changes as brain development, sensormotor and physical maturation, and sexual maturation; (2) the logical sequences inherent in acquiring new skills and knowledge, in moving from more external (adult driven) regulation to increasingly internal regulation of behaviors and emotions, and in moving from a primary location within intimate family settings to increasing engagement with the outside world; and (3) the regularities in the sequences of social experiences provided by social and cultural groups for children, adolescents, and adults as they mature.

Second, social clocks1 (Neugarten and Datan, 1976) and socially scripted sequences of socialization experiences (Elder, 1998) reflect cultural group adaptation to, and use of, these developmental regularities. For example, most cultures begin formal schooling at age 6. It is possible that this is the age when children have matured cognitively and socially to the point that they are ready for the challenges imposed by formal schooling. Of course, these socially scripted sequences themselves are likely to contribute to the regularities observed in human development (Higgins et al., 1983).

The psychologist Erik Erikson has provided the most fully developed theoretical model of these developmental regularities, illustrated in Table A-1 from the perspective of community programs for youth development. Like other theorists, he proposed that there are developmental tasks that must be addressed at particular ages or stages of life. These tasks change in systematic ways as people mature. How these developmental tasks are handled by individuals in the social settings in which they live will influence subsequent development. This means two things: (1) previous learning and development are critical to individuals’ current

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Social clocks refers to the socially shared norms regarding when particular events are likely to take place in people’s lives—like the expected age of marriage, completion of schooling, birth of children, retirement, etc. Socially scripted socialization experiences refer to the normative sequence of experiences provided for people as they grow up—like the age at which children begin and end formal schooling, the grade structure in the K-16 schooling process (when do the major school transitions occur—when do children move into middle school or junior high school, into high school, and into postsecondary schools), the ages at which children are allowed to drink, to drive, to vote, and to join the military,

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A Fundamental Principles of Human Development." National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. 2002. Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10022.
×

TABLE A-1 Stages of Development According to Erik Erikson

Life-Cycle Tasks

Program Cycle for Adolescents

Trust versus Mistrust

Birth to 1 year. Infant learns to expect maternal love and consistency or develops a sense of insecurity.

Learn to trust in the caring, competence, resourcefulness and fairness of the program staff and safety of the program environment.

Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt

1 to 3 years. Balance develops between parental control and the child’s own autonomy or the child develops a sense of shame and self-doubt if the balance is not established.

Negotiate an acceptable range of autonomy in behavior and decision-making, learning to respect program rules and to value guidance.

Initiative versus Guilt

3 to 6 years. Child uses his or her increasing autonomy to be on the move, planning and initiating actions, but may develop feelings of guilt if actions violate standards of propriety.

Initiate an honest attempt to collaborate with staff and peers toward self-development goals, learning to cope with or overcome feelings of ambivalence, sometimes from survivor’s guilt.

Industry versus Inferiority

7 to 11 years. Child becomes focused on producing things, instead of simply doing things, but may develop a sense of inferiority if not generally successful.

Strive industriously to achieve program-related goals, including learning new strategies for living and mastering new skills.

Identity versus Identity Confusion

Adolescence. In moving from childhood to adulthood, a person consciously crafts a multidimensional image of self, but may suffer confusion if that identity is not validated and approved by others.

Resolve any tensions between old and new beliefs about one’s self. Assimilate a focused and positive identity that fosters a healthy life style, satisfaction with one’s self and a sense of positive anticipation about one’s future.

Intimacy versus Isolation

Young adulthood. Young adults seek companionship and love with another person or become isolated from others.

Consolidate friendships with other trainees and some program staff, while drifting away from less constructive past associations.

Generativity versus Stagnation

Adulthood. Middle-age adults are productive, performing meaningful work and raising a family, or become stagnant and inactive.

Help to improve the program and to leave it in good condition for later cohorts of trainees who will enter future cycles of the program.

Integrity versus Despair

Maturity. Older adults try to make sense out of their lives, either seeing life as a meaningful whole or despairing at goals never reached and questions never answered.

Person leaves the program knowing that they have done their best and can look back with pride at performance and achievements.

 

Sources: For the life-cycle model, see Berger, K.S., 1988, p. 37, and Erikson, E., 1963, ch. 7. For the program-cycle model, see the study of YouthBuild by Ferguson, R. and J.Snipes, 1997.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A Fundamental Principles of Human Development." National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. 2002. Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10022.
×

capacities, values, attitudes, etc. and (2) current experiences set the stage for future capacities, values, attitudes, etc. Consequently, we need to think about development as occurring over time with experiences in the present being critical for both current well-being and preparation for the future.

Looking at development from this general perspective makes especially salient the need for families, schools, and communities to provide developmentally appropriate and enriching experiences throughout childhood and adolescence in order to both foster well-being and ensure adequate preparation for the transition to adulthood. Without such a guiding framework, programs will not necessarily be designed to provide the kinds of experiences necessary to ensure that adolescents will be fully prepared for becoming effective and fully functional adults. Many researchers, theoreticians, service practitioners, and policy makers see this as especially true in today’s increasingly complex and technological society.

Several other aspects of this model are important to understand. First, although the model suggests that there is a natural sequence in which each individual handles these developmental tasks, the specific challenges listed as typical of the different stages are actually operative throughout the life span. People are always dealing with each of these tasks. Second, nevertheless, due to both biological changes at the individual level and social changes imposed by the larger groups in which individuals reside, particular tasks are likely to become more salient at specific periods of life. The exact sequence in which these tasks emerge will depend on characteristics of both the individual and the social setting in which the individual is developing.

For example, Erikson proposed that confronting the challenge of personal identity formation occurred during adolescence and young adulthood and prior to confronting the challenge of intimacy. This ordering of tasks is probably most true for white American males. Other groups may have a different normative ordering. The exact ordering of the relative salience of the tasks should differ across cultural groups. Such variations need to be taken into account in designing programs for youth from different cultural groups. But what is likely to be more universal is the proposal that individuals both acquire new skills and needs and are confronted with new roles and responsibilities over the course of their life histories. The interaction of both of these types of changes moves individuals through stages such as those depicted in Table A-1. Finally, as noted above, given the cumulative nature of development,

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A Fundamental Principles of Human Development." National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. 2002. Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10022.
×

resolution of these challenges at any one point in time influences subsequent development on all of these challenges.

Erikson’s model has been criticized for its potential cultural specificity and its apparent rigid adherence to the perspective that maturation is based on developmental stages. Limited research supports both of these concerns: sequences are more fluid than depicted in the static framework such as summarized in Table A-1, and cultural groups do vary in the sequence of the particular tasks and challenges proposed (Berger, 1988). But in his more elaborated writings, Erikson himself repeatedly stressed the fluidity of his model, particularly in response to cultural variations in experience and norms. Despite these criticisms, the model is a useful way to think about the complexity of development.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A Fundamental Principles of Human Development." National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. 2002. Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10022.
×
Page 315
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A Fundamental Principles of Human Development." National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. 2002. Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10022.
×
Page 316
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A Fundamental Principles of Human Development." National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. 2002. Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10022.
×
Page 317
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A Fundamental Principles of Human Development." National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. 2002. Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10022.
×
Page 318
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A Fundamental Principles of Human Development." National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. 2002. Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10022.
×
Page 319
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After-school programs, scout groups, community service activities, religious youth groups, and other community-based activities have long been thought to play a key role in the lives of adolescents. But what do we know about the role of such programs for today's adolescents? How can we ensure that programs are designed to successfully meet young people's developmental needs and help them become healthy, happy, and productive adults?

Community Programs to Promote Youth Development explores these questions, focusing on essential elements of adolescent well-being and healthy development. It offers recommendations for policy, practice, and research to ensure that programs are well designed to meet young people's developmental needs.

The book also discusses the features of programs that can contribute to a successful transition from adolescence to adulthood. It examines what we know about the current landscape of youth development programs for America's youth, as well as how these programs are meeting their diverse needs.

Recognizing the importance of adolescence as a period of transition to adulthood, Community Programs to Promote Youth Development offers authoritative guidance to policy makers, practitioners, researchers, and other key stakeholders on the role of youth development programs to promote the healthy development and well-being of the nation's youth.

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