Chapter 1 Reflection
In chapter one it was very interesting to learn that child development has held the attention of so many researchers for such a long period of time. It was also interesting to learn about the different ideas that past cultures had about child development such as the medieval view of performationism. Also, it was very interesting to learn that some cultures still hold onto that idea and expect children to be as mature as adults. While this idea sounded silly to me the Reformation beliefs during the 16th century, that children were born evil, sounded terrible because children should never be treated so severely. After learning all of these theories I am very thankful that I grew up in a period of enlightenment for child rearing and developmental understanding that not only has an understanding that children are innocent but also inherently good.
It was interesting to learn that adults go through developmental changes as well as children. This development also occurs at various stages through adulthood and continues on into the late years of life. Previously I just thought that children mature into adults and that development stopped and it was attention-grabbing to learn I was wrong. A question that has arisen for me involves middle age development. Because adults are still developing during their middle age, between 30-50 years of age, does this development and change in maturity and social awareness cause the ‘mid-life crises? Or is it something else? Also I have learned that adult developmental research only became popular in the 1960s and 1970s. This was surprising to me because I had thought that studying adults would be much easier than studying children because adults can speak and express their emotions. Finally, there is a large body of knowledge to be learned from the developing adult and research should focus more in this area so adults can understand themselves better.
Chapter 2 Reflection
I found the genetic diseases section very interesting because they are diseases that a person is born with and rarely can be changed, the exception being PKU which can be treated with proper diet. Even though people with PKU can treat their symptoms with a special diet they will never be cured in the way that someone with pneumonia can be cured and that’s really what made these diseases fascinating for me to read about in chapter two. The other diseases that cannot be fixed were as interesting as they were sad. Huntington’s disease was especially interesting and sad to learn about and I could not image what it would be like to have my nervous system slowly degrade. Some scary facts to learn about Huntington’s disease were that it is a dominant genetic disease and that symptoms are not expressed until around age 35. This means that those with Huntington’s disease could get married, have careers, and even start families before their body begins to shut down, but by age 35 most people are the peak of their careers and family life. To have all of those accomplishments stripped away is just a very sad and scary thought. Finally, it was also very interesting to learn about the many genetic diseases that occur due to the wrong number of chromosomes in the body and how common they are, for example Down’s syndrome is found in 1 out of every 800 live births.
The possibility of having a child with a genetic disease brings me into the second topic I found interesting and that was genetic testing. I was specifically interested in the genetic testing methods that can be done before and during a pregnancy to ascertain the likelihood of giving birth to a healthy baby. Many people are concerned about the ethics of genetic testing and what it means when everyone can know what they may be susceptible to contracting, such as different forms of cancers. While that is one side to this argument the converse is that those who are concerned about having a healthy family find genetic testing a wonderful asset. The ability to test yourself and your partner and to learn the likelihood of having a healthy baby is wonderful because those who want to have families, such as myself, may consider adoption instead of pregnancy if the risks of having an unhealthy baby are high. Overall, I found this chapter very informative and fun to learn from because the material was very interesting.
Chapter 3 Reflection
This chapter held tons of interesting facts and topics but the section that really caught my eye was how family size has changed and the misconceptions about family size and intelligence. I did not know much about this subject because I am not an expert on family dynamics and most information is new for me. It makes sense that family size in America has gone down but I did not know it is now 1.8 children per household on average. This indicates that many more families are having only one or two children and it makes sense because more families are now two-income households and parents cannot devote as much time to raising a large number of children. Finally, on the topic of family size there was a small discussion on the misconceptions surrounding intelligence in relation to number of children. I found it extremely interesting that both one child households and many (5+) child households have an equal opportunity for highly intelligent children.
The second interesting section of facts was the section on fetal development because humans growing other humans are just an extremely fascinating field. Especially the beginning stages of development, when it is just a blastocyst, technically just a group of cells, but there is enough cell communication for the whole group to implant itself onto the uterine wall. Our bodies are coordinated before we have brains. This was in immensely thought-provoking chapter and I could write pages about it but the blastocyst fact was the one I found most remarkable.
Chapter 4 Reflection
While reading chapter four the beginning of the chapter was definitely interesting, as a man I will never experience childbirth so it is a foreign body of knowledge. Therefore, there were many facts that I did not know such as that during birth the baby actually loses some of its oxygen. This loss of oxygen stimulates blood flow to the brain and heart which prepares the baby for breathing. Another interesting fact was that males are on average longer and heavier than females.
Newborns seem like they come equipped to cry and defecate but actually they have a full set of senses, if limited. The sense of touch is tremendously important for development and at birth babies can feel pain and this one of the many reasons a baby cries. Newborns can also distinguish many tastes and even dislike some of them, although because they do not have much choice in what they eat they often get over dislike in favor of a full belly. Hearing is also very important for a babies development and newborns can distinguish sounds from all languages at first but eventually learn just one or two languages to master.
All of these senses seemed fairly well developed for such a new creature and I thought of course there had to be one sense that was not developed and that was sight. Overall, chapters three and four were eye-opening and I felt that I learned quite a lot about a field I knew nothing about before.