Human development as a subject of study is consistent changes in human being in time and related to this facts and phenomena of mental life. Almost all researchers agree that human development can be defined as the change in time: the concept on the changes and their occurrence in time is undeniable. Another thing is to answer the questions what changes and how. This is where the differences begin.
In modern science, the development is almost never understood as growth. Under the growth is understood the process of quantitative change (accumulation) of the external features of the object, measured in height, length, width, thickness, weight, etc. This means that, firstly, the growth is just one of the aspects of human development, i.e., there are other, and secondly, that the growth is only an external indicator of the development, saying nothing about its nature, and thirdly, the growth can only be a quantitative characteristic of the development.
Human development as maturation is definition, which is primarily used in everyday thinking. Under the maturation is understood reduction, curtailment of the development to morphological changes occurring under the direct control of the genetic apparatus. This means that such a definition exaggerates the value of biological inheritance and thus underestimates the importance of other aspects of human development.
Human development as improvement. This definition is often used in teaching and is teleological in nature, i.e., it was originally supposed having a goal (telos), which acts as a kind of stimulus to reach perfection, i.e., the best model, an ideal form of the development. In this case, first, it is unclear, who could set such a goal: whether it is externally (by God, education, the environment), or internally defined (by the hereditary apparatus). And, secondly, it is not clear why this form of the development should be considered as the best, perfect, and not any other (who sets the criteria of “excellence”?).
Human development as a universal change. As one of the criteria for determining the development is a requirement of generality and universality of change. This means that the same changes should occur in people of different cultures, religions, languages, and levels of development. With clear evidence of this requirement, it is not feasible. First of all, you cannot really determine what changes may be attributed to general, universal, and which are regarded as particular. And, secondly, the large mass of particular changes in this approach will generally be denied to be the subject of human development.
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