AMU How We Interpret and Make Sense of Our Observations Discussion

Explain how our own paradigm plays a role in what we think we observed versus what we actually observed.  Provide specific examples that relate to observations of young children’s cognitive, socio-emotional, and/or physical development.  Support your points with outside resources and/or the readings and lesson content. 

Classmate #1:

Good evening class, 

Every aspect of our lives is influenced by our own paradigms. It is how we view the world and make meaning of the things that we experience. These beliefs also play a huge role in the choices we make in life. How we think about things will influence how we see things. We will see the things that we expect to see.
Paradigms can have a strong influence on how we observe children because we have preexisting ideas about the ways that they should or should not be developing. If someone has preexisting ideas on how a person should behave if they are sad and they observe the person behaving in a different manner, then because of this paradigm, you might not believe that the person is actually feeling sad.


Cognitive development: If a caregiver has a preexisting thought that a child of 4-5 years of age should be able to read through a short book easily and the child is struggling to read it and pronounce words correctly, then the caregiver might observe this as the child not being as cognitively developed as they should be. The caregiver could be basing this incorrect observation on previous children they have cared for when in reality children might not learn to read proficiently until they are 6-7.

Socio-emotional development: If a child gets upset over not being able to play with a particular toy during play time and has a bit of an outburst, according to my own bias, a caregiver would presumably attempt to help this child work through their emotions. Ultimately helping them come up with a solution and to be able to verbalize their thoughts and what is making them so upset.
However, in a situation like this, the caregiver could have preexisting ideas that every child who gets upset and has an emotional outburst is tired. This might push the caregiver to suggest nap time instead of helping the upset child to voice their concerns, which could unknowingly hinder their socio-emotional development. 

Physical development: If a mother has two children and her first child was able to ride a bike without training wheels at the age of five, she might assume that her second child should also be able to ride their bike without training wheels at the age of five. So if her youngest child is not able to ride the bike then she might think that her child is developing slowly or has poor balance/coordination for their age when in reality, physical development is different for every child. Her assumption and worry for her child would be unnecessary and misplaced. 

Our beliefs can heavily influence the way that we observe children growing and can sometimes cause us to think differently about the things we observe. It is important to always take the time to understand our own beliefs and not push those originating thoughts onto the children we care for. It is also important to talk with other professionals and see if they have other perceptions on the ideas that we notice and observe, in case we are unknowingly pushing our paradigms on a situation and inaccurately documenting our observations of the children in our care. 

Classmate #2:

Our beliefs, values, cultural background, and personal experiences significantly shape our perception and interpretation of observations in different aspects of life, including the development of young children in their cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical development. This week, we learned about the impact of our paradigm on how we observe and understand the world around us. Unconscious paradigm bias can cause significant discrepancies between perceived and actual observations. As educators, it is important to be aware of our paradigm so that we can properly assess the situation before reacting.

Cognitive Development:
A teacher observes that a child solves math problems using alternative and unconventional methods. The teacher may perceive the student as needing further assistance with math skills and isn’t as smart as her other students. This does not necessarily indicate a lack of math skills. The child’s unconventional problem-solving methods may indicate a unique cognitive approach and creativity.

Divergent thinking, a concept introduced by Psychologist J.P. Guilford, is a cognitive process that involves generating multiple and diverse solutions to a problem and is often related to creativity. Additionally, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky emphasize how children actively participate in their surroundings and develop their cognitive abilities. Constructivism proposes that children build their own knowledge and problem-solving skills. 

Socio-Emotional Development:
A teacher witnesses a child engaging in aggressive behavior, such as hitting or biting, during playtime. The teacher may view the child as having emotional issues or behavioral problems. In actuality, the child is experiencing emotional distress and using tantrums as a coping mechanism due to an unstable home life.

Childhood trauma can impact a child’s behavior and well-being. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network offer resources to address trauma-related behaviors. Additionally, educators should respond with empathy and support as they are trained to recognize and address emotional and behavioral issues.

Physical Development:
A teacher notices that one of her students is underweight and smaller than the others. They may immediately view it as a medical issue that requires treatment or intervention. However, the underweight status of the child is attributed to genetic factors and dietary preferences based on culture. It is important to consider diverse perspectives on child growth and development, and cultural competence in healthcare plays a significant role in this.

It’s important to remember that our paradigm can shape our assumptions and beliefs about children’s growth and development. Ultimately, this can lead to misunderstandings that can have real-world repercussions, particularly in educational, family, and healthcare settings. To avoid these biases, it’s crucial to stay open-minded and culturally sensitive and to gain a deeper understanding of the child’s unique context and developmental path.

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