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Nature versus nurture

Read about the nature versus nurture debate in child development.
Anxious boy
© Smikeymikey1,
In the last couple of steps we have begun to explore different approaches that exist to assessing and measuring the growth and development of children and young people – particularly psychological and sociological perspectives.

Central to this is the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate, are we the way we are because of how we are born or are we the way we are because of our environment? What will have more influence on how we behave – an in-born predisposition or upbringing and experience? A sociological perspective such as Ecological Systems Theory as proposed by Urie Bronfenbrenner would certainly strongly emphasise the influence of environment and context on this process. When thinking about caring for vulnerable children, being firmly wedded to one viewpoint may be limiting and many would argue that it will be a range of complex interactions that shape how we grow and develop, some being instinctive and natural whilst others are conditioned and environmental.

Before moving on we would like you to consider what you feel is most important in this process. Consider where the balance lies between nature and nurture in the process of growth and development. You may use the example story of Billy to illustrate your points. If you choose to draw upon personal experience, please be careful to be respectful and be aware of the right to privacy of other people. We’re looking for your thoughts on this issue at this point in time, knowing that these may change as you advance through the course.

Share your thoughts in the comments area.

© University of Strathclyde
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Caring for Vulnerable Children

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