Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

People may ask: “How do we become who we are?”. When it comes to child development, people will usually place their answers under two categories. These are nature and nurture. When we mention nature, it is like we are saying the traits that we inherit where else by nurture we mean the traits that we learn. As we all know nature and nurture are very different in several ways, however one must not forget that they both play a significant role in child development. Although they both influence child development, the topic of which one has the greatest influence is frequently debated. Below, I will be discussing their role in more depth.
Human mind and developmental pathways do not follow a fixed pattern of cause and effect. Rather, the changes of development are more random as the neurobiological methods are ‘triggered’ by the environment and, in turn, ‘interpreted’ by the person in separate ways. According to Thelen and Smith (1994), they are ‘complex interrelation of time, substance and process’ in the dynamic play between gene action and environmental experience which continues throughout life. (Thelen, 1994) The outcome of nature and nurture working hand in hand is most critically significant in the initial years of the child’s life when the growing of the mind is at its peak. The mind’s flexibility and the child’s disposition to learn (biogenetic distinctiveness of the child) are formed by environmental impacts and stimulation of physical, socio-emotional, cultural and even intellectual nature in forming new paths in learning and development. It is, therefore, vital to acknowledge that nature is inseparable from nurture and that both nature and nurture are foundations of human potential and development as well as risk of disfunction and challenging behaviour.
It would be easy to say that the starting points with which a child is born can be positively formed and moulded by the quality of the environment, for example: its emotional, social, physical and even the intellectual interaction with the child, and the child’s interaction with it. However, Kagan’s studies (2010) provide indications that some brains are more easily prompted than others and may thus be more susceptible to experiences that they may have. (Kagan, 2010) That is why attachment and how parents/caregivers respond to their child play such a crucial part in structuring strong and optimistic foundations for the child’s accomplishment in life. That is also why early experiences of family violence, abuse, poverty or mental health are of such concern, and why early interventions programmes are so imperative in encouraging and supporting the best outcomes for children where children’s starting points may not have been that great. (Wachs, 1999) One answer to providing more effectively for children could be a much more self-critical, reflective and differentiated pedagogy developed through meaningful observations, noticing and recognising what is important and significant to the child and about the child, and responding in a supportive way. This kind of a good match between individual child’s genes and the environmental context in which they develop would mean a good early start. More importantly, where hereditary vulnerabilities and complex behaviours are observed, it may at least increase their chances of more positive pathways in life. (Sacerdote, 2010)
Nowadays, it is realised that both nature and nurture play a significant part in not only the child’s intelligence but even in other factors that leave a profound impact on his/her development. This means that the earliest the environmental change (in both good situations and bad) the greater the impact would be later in life. Due to this fact, many are instead focused on studying what is the best gene-environment in order to create optimal outcomes for children.

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