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Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 182–204 | Cite as

Arnold gesell and the maturation controversy

  • Thomas C. Dalton
Article

Abstract

This article examines the work of Arnold Lucius Gesell and argues that he not only paved the way for contemporary research in motor development, but that he and colleagues anticipated fundamental issues about growth that must be addressed by psychologists and neuroscientists who are committed to the advancement of developmental science. Arnold Lucius Gesell was a pioneer in developmental psychology when the field was in its infancy. He worked diligently for the rights of physically and mentally handicapped children to receive special education that would enable them to find gainful employment. Gesell’s writings in books and popular magazines increased public awareness of and support for preschool education and better foster care for orphans. Despite these achievements, many of his successors have questioned his views about infant development. Developmental psychologists have criticized Gesell for proposing a stage theory of infant growth that has fallen into disfavor among contemporary researchers. His conception of development as a maturational process has been challenged for allegedly reducing complex behavioral, perceptual, and learning processes to genetic factors. The author rejects this overly simplistic interpretation and contends that Gesell’s work continues to stand the test of time.

Keywords

Motor Development Infant Development Preschool Education Early Stimulation Developmental Science 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas C. Dalton
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Liberal Arts at California Polytechnic State UniversitySan Luis Obispo

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