Development and Learning


Development and Learning: The period from infancy to adolescence is one of rapid growth and change. The curriculum must have a holistic ...

Development and Learning:

The period from infancy to adolescence is one of rapid growth and change. The curriculum must have a holistic approach to learning and development that is able to see the interconnections and transcend divisions between physical and mental development, and between individual development and interaction with others. 

The precondition for all development is healthy physical growth of all children. This requires that the basic needs in terms of adequate nutrition, physical exercise and other psycho-social needs are addressed. Participation of all children in free play, informal and formal games, yoga and sports activities is essential for their physical and psycho-social development.The range of abilities as a result of games, sports and yoga will improve stamina, fine and gross motor skills and dexterities, self-awareness and control, and coordination in team games. Simple adaptation of playgrounds, equipment and rules can make activities and games accessible to all children in the school. Children can achieve high levels of excellence in sports, athletics, gymnastics, yoga and performing arts such as dance. When the emphasis shifts from enjoyment to achievement, such training can make demands of discipline and practice that can create stress at this stage. Whereas all students must be involved in health and physical education activities, those who choose to excel in games and sports need to be provided adequate opportunities. 

Physical development supports mental and cognitive development, especially in young children. The capacity to think, reason and make sense of the self and the world, and to use language, is intimately connected with acting and interacting—doing things by oneself and with others. 

Cognition involves the capacity to make sense of the self and the world, through action and language. Meaningful learning is a generative process of representing and manipulating concrete things and mental representations, rather than storage and retrieval of information. Thinking, language (verbal or sign) and doing things are thus intimately inter-twined. This is a process that begins in infancy, and develops through independent and mediated activities. Initially, children are cognitively oriented to the here and now, able to reason and act logically on concrete experiences. As their linguistic capabilities and their ability to work in the company of others develop, it opens up possibilities of more complex reasoning in tasks that involve abstraction, planning and dealing with ends that are not in view. There is an overall increase in the capability of working with the hypothetical, and reasoning in the world of the possible. 

Conceptual development is thus a continuous process of deepening and enriching connections and acquiring new layers of meaning. Alongside is the development of theories that children have about the natural and social worlds, including themselves in relation to others, which provide them with explanations for why things are the way they are, the relationships between causes and effects, and the bases for decisions and acting. Attitudes, emotions and morals are thus an integral part of cognitive development, and are linked to the development of language, mental representations, concepts and reasoning. As children’s metacognitive capabilities develop, they become more aware of their own beliefs and capable of regulating their own learning. 
• All children are naturally motivated to learn and are capable of learning. 
• Making meaning and developing the capacity for abstract thinking, reflection and work are the most important aspects of learning. 
• Children learn in a variety of ways—through experience, making and doing things, experimentation, reading, discussion, asking, listening, thinking and reflecting, and expressing oneself in speech, movement or writing—both individually and with others. They require opportunities of all these kinds in the course of their development. 
• Teaching something before the child is cognitively ready takes away from learning it at a later stage. Children may ‘remember’ many facts but they may not understand them or be able to relate them to the world around them. 
• Learning takes place both within school and outside school. Learning is enriched if the two arenas interact with each other. Art and work provide opportunities for holistic learning that is rich in tacit and aesthetic components. Such experiences are essential for linguistically known things,especially in moral and ethical matters, to be learnt through direct experience, and integrated into life. 

• Learning must be paced so that it allows learners to enga ge with concepts and deepen understanding, rather than remembering only to forget after examinations. At the same time learning must provide variety and challenge, and be interesting and engaging. Boredom is a sign that the task may have become mechanically repetitive for the child and of little cognitive value. 

• Learning can take place with or without mediation. In the case of the latter, the social context and interactions, especially with those who are capable, provide avenues for learners to work at cognitive levels above their own. 

 Adolescence is a critical period for the development of self-identity. The process of acquiring a sense of self is linked to physiological changes, and also learning to negotiate the social and psychological demands of being young adults. Responsible handling of issues like independence, intimacy, and peer group dependence are concerns that need to be recognised, and appropriate support be given to cope with them. The physical space of the outside world, one’s access to it, and free movement influence construction of the self. This is of special significance in the case of girls, who are often constrained by social conventions to stay indoors. These very conventions promote the opposite stereotype for boys, which associates them with the outdoors and physical process. These stereotypes get especially heightened as a result of biological maturational changes during adolescence. These physiological changes have ramifications in the psychological and social aspects of an adolescent's life. Most adolescents deal with these changes without full knowledge and understanding, which could make them vulnerable to risky situations like sexually transmitted diseases, sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS and drug and substance abuse. 

It is a time when the given and internalised norms and ideas are questioned, while at the same time the opinions of the peer group become very important. It is important to recognise that adolescents need social and emotional support that may require reinforcement of norms of positive behaviour, acquisition of skills essential to cope with the risky situations that they encounter in their lives, manage peer pressure and deal with gender stereotypes. The absence of such support can lead to confusion and misunderstanding about these changes, and affect their academic and extracurricular activities. 

It is important to create an inclusive environment in the classroom for all students, especially those who are at risk of marginalisation, for instance, students with disabilities. Labelling an individual student or a group of students as learning disabled etc. creates a sense of helplessness, inferiority and stigmatisation. It tends to overshadow difficulties that children may be facing in schools due to diverse socio-cultural backgrounds and inappropriate pedagogical approaches being used in the classroom. A student with a disability has an equal right to membership of the same group as all other students. Differences between students must be viewed as resources for supporting learning rather than as a problem. Inclusion in education is one of the components of inclusion in society. 

Schools, therefore, have a responsibility of providing a flexible curriculum that is accessible to all students. This document can form a starting point for planning a curriculum that meets the specific needs of individual students or groups of students. The curriculum must provide appropriate challenges and create enabling opportunities for students to experience success in learning and achievement to the best of their potential. Teaching and learning processes in the classroom should be planned to respond to the diverse needs of students. Teachers can explore positive strategies for providing education to all children, including those perceived as having disabilities. This can be achieved in collaboration with fellow teachers or with organisations outside the school.


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CLEAR CTET: Development and Learning
Development and Learning
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