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Early Theory of Development: Preformationism

What was the "preformationist" view of human development? What implications did this view of human development have for children and education? What historical evidence supported this view? Contradicting evidence?

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1. What was the "preformationist" view of human development? What implications did this view of human development have for children and education? What historical evidence supported this view? Contradicting evidence?

Preformationism

- Preformationism is most evident in early theories of embryology (from at least the 5th century B.C. through the last half of the 18th century). Scientists believed that a tiny, fully formed human, or homunculus, is implanted in the sperm or the egg at conception. In social thought preformationism declined earlier (16th century)
- Reflects the belief that the human is "preformed" at the instant of creation and grows only in size and bulk until birth.
- Believed that children come into the world as ready-made miniature adults.
- Predominant during the Middle Ages (Aries, 1960).
- Children distinguished only by size (Aries, 1960).
- Child's body and personality believed to have been formed into the adult pattern from birth.

Why did people hold preformationist views?

- Aries (1960, p. 40) speculated that people of this era were reluctant to pay attention to children's distinctive features because of high rates of childhood mortality.
- Ausubel (1958) speculated that adults nay have had a natural adult egocentrism assuming ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains an early theory of development referred to as Preformationism (5th to the 18th century), including a description, historical evidence, and implications for children and education.

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