Seasons Change: Digging into Theories on Learning and Development

 
- DISCLAIMER -

 

My dear readers,

This blog post has been written for a Human Development & Learning assignment for Dr. Ellen Ballock at Gordon College. Please forgive me, just this once, if it is written in a style that you aren't used to seeing come from me.

With this is mind, let's talk about some new vocabulary words that will help you should you choose to continue reading this post!

 

- KEY TERMS -

 

- Behaviorism: A school of thought in Psychology that is characterized by "the scientific study of overt, observable behavior" (Bergin & Bergin, 2016, p. 622).

- Models: a person acting as an example or setting an example for a child or adolescent observing them.

- Reinforced: when a child or adolescent has been given either a positive or negative reinforcement, they have been reinforced. Positive and negative reinforcements are stimulants that are taken away from or presented to a child or adolescent to encourage the likelihood that a particular behavior will reoccur.

- Identity: where a child or adolescent finds their identity is how they see themselves as or what they use to define themselves. For many, identity can be found in their faith tradition, their occupation, or the profession belonging to their parents or older siblings.

- Identity/ Role Confusion: when a child or adolescent struggles to find their identity or with knowing how to define it. Role confusion can appear as a questioning of roles in family life, a questioning of sexual orientation, the need to have a clan, or belonging to a clique.

- "Identity versus Identity Confusion": A stage in German psychologist Erik Erikson's Psychosocial Theory of development. This stage occurs in adolescence.

 

It was just a normal Sunday afternoon. I had just gotten back from spending Thanksgiving in New York with my dad's two sisters and their families. I was enjoying slow sips from a "medium hot, extra, extra" from the nearby Dunkin Donuts and I was sitting with some women from my church who were watching their sons, brothers, spouses, and significant others play a rather intense match of Ultimate Frisbee on the Nash Fields.

Well, at least I thought it was a normal afternoon.

Looking at this picture now (shown above) though, I can see how skinny my neck looks and I'm thrown back to that very day and I can feel the heavy weight of unshakeable fatigue settle on my shoulders.

I didn't know it then, but the seasons were changing.

The next day brought along answers to prayer in the form of my diagnosis with Type One Diabetes.

 

ALBERT BANDURA - SOCIAL COGNITIVE THEORY

 

Canadian psychologist of the school of thought we call Behaviorism, Albert Bandura, would argue that I learned how to take care of myself after my diagnosis because of models like my dad or the ER doctors and nurses.

If my dad hadn't shown me how to unpack and organize my supplies after receiving a new order (shown above) -- I never would have learned how to do so efficiently.

I think that the Social Cognitive Theory's greatest strength is in explaining scenarios, like my experience, where a person is actively learning a new way of behaving or a new attitude/ outlook on life or circumstances.

However, analyzing my diagnosis and what I learned through it using Bandura's theory does point out a few holes. For instance, I never had the opportunity to learn from another Type One Diabetic who was being reinforced (Bergin & Bergin, 2016, p. 122 - 125).

 

ERIK ERIKSON - PSYCHOSOCIAL THEORY

 

German psychologist, Erik Erikson, would argue that my process of learning how to live with Type One was a battle of sorts between my identity and identity confusion (Bergin & Bergin, 2016, p. 537).

If there is a theory of learning and development that better explains my situation, it is this one.

The Psychosocial Theory is one that is complex and covers the whole lifespan. Considering this, not all portions of the theory are present in my situation. The part that is present is what Erikson addressed as the "Identity versus Identity Confusion" stage (Bergin & Bergin, 2016, p. 537).

I remember that in the days and weeks just after my diagnosis I struggled with some identity/ role confusion because to me it seemed as though I had gone from being an independent daughter to a young child who suddenly needed help with even the simplest of things.

It took a good five months or so before I realized that I didn't need to place my identity in my illness and that I could continue placing it in the arms of Jesus Christ, my Redeemer.

 

Just as the seasons changed then, so they are changing now.

I'm slowly but surely learning how to live as a Type One Diabetic in college. It hasn't been the easiest thing ever, BUT I'm so grateful that with Jesus by my side it hasn't been completely impossible either.

My dear readers, seasons will change. There will be highs and lows and in-betweens but if you choose to cling to Jesus, things will feel more bearable.

 

REFERENCES

 

Bergin, C. C., Bergin, D. A. (2016). Child and Adolescent Development in Your Classroom: Topical Approach. Boston: Cengage Learning.