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[Xmca-l] bio-social-behavioral shift and Problem of Age


I've been reading posts for a while and have not posted before.

This line of discussion prompts me to write a question that I've had in mind for a while.  Before Mike's textbook "The Development of Children" was reorganized for the 6th Edition when Cynthia Lightfoot became the first author, the concept of a bio-social-behavioral shift was used to organize the text.  The new edition has dropped that.

For those of you not familiar, this was a concept that served at least in my mind to make a more culturally-historically based notion of stages instead of "stages" that are all too often presented in textbooks as fact rather than a cultural construction.  The textbook referenced Emde and talked about times when changes occurred across biological, social, and cultural areas of children's lives.  Development was presented with shift points around:
- birth
- 2.5 to 3 months with the emergence of the truly social smile (reciprocal, endogenous)
- the end of the first year with self-locomotion
- 2-3 years with the emergence of a system of language
- 5 to 7 years with the "age of reason" and the emergence of more systematic, logical thought and the loss of baby teeth
- and puberty

I really liked this feature of the textbook and was sorry to see it go.  Although I've just summarized it here, each shift has changes across domains associated with it and new capacities for the child that change the child's social relations with others around him/her as well as possibilities for thinking.  It seemed a nice way to get away from "stages" as defined by a theory, just biology, or a particular cultural-historical context by basing the shifts on points in development where biological changes tend to be marked across a range of local settings with changes in social expectations and cultural institutions.

Mike and others...
- For scholarship, is this a line of work that others are taking up?  Who are scholars that are writing about shifts and turning points drawing from biological, social and cultural changes?
- For teaching, what do you think is lost by taking out the explicit mention and discussion of these shift points and instead presenting the material organized around those shift points without explicitly addressing the concept and what it means?

I look forward to reading more on the Problem of Age and a bio-social-behavioral shift.

Holli A. Tonyan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor | Department of Psychology | California State University, Northridge
Postal Address: 18111 Nordhoff Street | Northridge, CA 91330-8255

Tel: (818) 677-4970 | Fax: (818) 677-2829
Office: ST322


**check out**

Tonyan, H. A. (in press).  Everyday routines: A window into the cultural organization of family child care.  Journal of Early Childhood Research.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1476718X14523748

Tonyan, H. A., Nuttall, J. (2014).  Connecting cultural models of home-based care and childminders’ career paths: An Eco-cultural analysis.  International Journal of Early Years Education, 22, 117-138, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09669760.2013.809654

Tonyan, H. A., Mamikonian, A., & Chien, D. (2013).  Do they practice what they preach?  An Ecocultural, multidimensional, group-based examination of the relationship between beliefs and behaviours among child care providers.  Early Child Development and Care, 183:12, 1853-1877.   http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03004430.2012.759949

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead <http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Margaret_Mead/> US anthropologist & popularizer of anthropology (1901 - 1978)
On Jul 30, 2014, at 12:13 PM, Katherine Wester Neal <wester@uga.edu<mailto:wester@uga.edu>> wrote:

I agree that a monumental crisis takes place between the age of 2 and 3. I wouldn't call it the "terrible twos," but I think it results from the "language explosion" that often occurs at that age. A child learns that all these sounds s/he has been hearing can be used meaningfully as a tool for exerting control on the world around him/her and faces a crisis in how to use them.

I think the crisis around 6 years old comes from the understanding that what one does in the world has consequences. That change, as I understand it, is the basis for laws that place the age of culpability around 5-6 in the U.S. (In many U.S. states, children under this age can't be charged with a crime because they don't have the capability to understand that they've done something wrong.) Perhaps there are other suggestions? And what typifies the crisis at 1? How is it biological?


Katie Wester-Neal
University of Georgia

From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu<mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu<mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>> on behalf of peter jones <h2cmng@yahoo.co.uk<mailto:h2cmng@yahoo.co.uk>>
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 2:20 PM
To: Culture ActivityeXtended Mind
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The ideal head

The one at 2-2.5 is easy - "terrible twos"? :-)
Is this just a myth though?

More seriously, there do appear to developmental milestones however:
Use of and ambivalence in Yes / No?
Peter (father of three)
Peter Jones
Lancashire, UK
Blogging at "Welcome to the QUAD"
h2cm: help 2C more - help 2 listen - help 2 care

On Wed, 30/7/14, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com> wrote:

Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The ideal head
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
Date: Wednesday, 30 July, 2014, 18:30

Vygotsky's Problem of Age is a difficult
essay. I wonder if you could say a
bit more
about the crisis at 6 (7,8?) years and the one at 12 years?
others are fairly self explanatory but
those two are a bit more
complicated. Among
other things, it isn't clear what is different about
crisis at 2.5 and the crisis at 6.

Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 6:44 AM, Martin John Packer <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co

Though in other texts he wrote of
adolescence as such a time of crisis

that the whole stage should be considered a transition. In
the lectures on
child development
Vygotsky describes the following crises:

Birth: the child is
differentiated physically
1 year: the
child is differentiated biologically

2.5 years: the child is differentiated psychologically
6 years: inside & outside of self are
12 years: actual &
possible selves are differentiated


On Jul 28, 2014, at 6:36 PM, Andy Blunden

Francis, most of the crises which Vygotsky mentions in
are associated with childhood before
school. (It is an unfinished work).


*Andy Blunden*



In any case, I wonder
if Vygotsky considered whether schooling itself
responsible, at least partly, for the child's apparent

schooling at these moments.

Francis J. Sullivan,

Gregory A.
Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young
Provo, UT 84602