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Developmental Theorists: Arnole Gesell Essay

941 words - 4 pages

The study of childhood development has opened the eyes of parents and soon-to-be parents as to how their children may develop on a cognitive, social, emotional and physical level. Parents now have an idea of how their child may develop thanks to the many theorists who had their own ideas to how the developing child develops and learns. Arnold Gesell gave many insights into childhood development, as well as giving insight to parent’s eyes as to how their child would develop at every age. Gesell is most known for his Maturation theory or Heredity vs. Nature theory.
Arnold Lucius Gesell was born on June 21, 1880, in Alma, Wisconsin. His parents valued his education highly and early on he knew he wanted to be a teacher. In 1903 he graduated the University of Wisconsin and with his degree became a high school teacher and principle before entering Clark University which is where he received his Ph.D. Gesell believed in order to study child development, he must need some background in medical research and studied at Yale, receiving and M.D degree in 1915. Arnold Gesell established and directed the Yale Clinic of Child Development from 1911 to 1948. Gesell’s initial work was to study disabled children, and studied disorders like Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and cretinism.
Through his studies, he documented similarities and patterns in children’s mental development and concluded that individuals go through identifiable sequences of stages. Gesell was able to give parents an idea of just how their child may develop at each age. In fact, Gesell by many is known to be the father of child development study in the United States. To help parents understand how their child is developing at every age, he developed the Gesell Developmental Schedules and he made this to give an idea or measure of possible intelligence.

For example, children who show early development were likely to have a high intelligence, according to his schedules. Gesell’s work is known as a belief of supporting predetermined natural stages of mental development or nature vs. nurture. In other words, his most well-known theory, and that is the Maturation Theory.
Gesell’s Maturation Theory still today, continues to affect what goes on in schools, more so in early childhood classrooms in parts of the United States. The Maturation Theory had great roots in the study of evolution and genetics, something that greatly interested Arnold Gesell. This theory follows the believe that child development is mostly biological, not environmental which today is how we believe a child develops a certain way they do due to the environment. However, Arnold Gesell still believed a stable, healthy environment was needed for a child to successfully develop according to their genetics or heredity. This theory infers that environmental factors such as experiences or injuries play a small...

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