Human And Moral Development In Education

Centre for the Study of
Human And Moral Development In Education

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Centre for the Study of Human And Moral Development In Education
The Goal of Development

• Peoples of Earth • The Natural World • The Goal of Development •

The Goal of Development

Reflections: The Goal of Development

The ‘goal of development is to discover relevant information in order to make a functional match between what the environment affords and what the actor can and wants to do’ (Thelen & Smith, 1994, p.xxi). That applies equally to a young child learning at walk, an adolescent in the process of moral development, or a scientist seeking and discovering relevant information about the workings of the universe. Visitors to Korea will see on the back of the KW10,000 banknote a picture of the honcheonui, a water driven celestial globe, invented by Jang Yeong-sil at the behest of King Sejong the Great in the year 1433. That is exactly 110 years before the publication of Copernicus’ book On the Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs that forever changed our view of ourselves as human beings within the celestial scheme of things.


Development is not necessarily pre-programmed - the 'mountain stream' metaphor

Reflections: The Goal of Development

Esther Thelen and Linda Smith invite us to consider the development of a mountain stream as progresses down the mountain side. Patterns in a fast-moving mountain stream emerge from immediate factors (e.g., rate of flow, configuration of stream bed, weather, water molecules), and factors operating over different time scales (e.g., geological history of the mountain, climate, erosion, etc.). They say:

“At some places, the water flows smoothly in small ripples.  Nearby may be a small whirlpool or a large turbulent eddy.  Still other places may show waves or spray.  These patterns persist hour after hour and even day after day, but after a storm or a long dry spell, new patterns may appear.  Where do they come from? Why do they persist and why do they change?  No one would assign any geological plan or grand hydraulic design to the patterns in a mountain stream.” 

“Rather, the regularities patently emerge from multiple factors: The rate of flow of the water downstream, the configurations of the stream bed, the current weather conditions that determine evaporation rate and rainfall, and the important quality of water molecules under particular constraints to self-organize into different patterns of flow.”

(Thelen & Smith, 2006, p. 263)


20 January, 2015


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