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Module 4: Social Development

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Introduction to Social Development

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Social development refers to the long-term changes in relationships and interactions involving self, peers, and family. It includes both positive changes, such as how friendships develop, and negative changes, such as aggression or bullying.

The social developments that are the most obviously relevant to classroom life fall into three
main areas:
1. Changes in self-concept and in relationships among students and teachers
2. Changes in basic needs or personal motives
3. Changes in sense of rights and responsibilities

As with cognitive development, each of these areas has a broad, well-known theory (and theorist) that provides a framework for thinking about how the area relates to teaching.

For development of self-concept and relationships, it is the theory of Erik Erikson; for development of personal motives, it is the theory of Abraham Maslow; and for development of ethical knowledge and beliefs, it is the work of Lawrence Kohlberg and his critic, Carol Gilligan. Their theories are definitely not the only ones related to social development of students, and their ideas are often debated by other researchers. But their accounts do explain much about social development that is relevant to teaching and education.