Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Factors in Human Development

Originally posted on June 12, 2011

There are so many things to take into consideration when trying to understand a human life. Several years ago I made a tentative list on some of the many issues affecting the development of babies, children, and teenagers. Today I posted another paper that offered a preliminary listing of many of the issues that affect the lives of adults, from around the early-mid 20s into old age.

There are so many factors at play, though, that I have little faith in the process of the kind of science that uses fixed variables on statistical samples and tries to come up with meaningful conclusions—that’s called “nomothetic” research and it constitutes the great majority of psychology and other types of behavioral science. Rather, I appreciate more a qualitative type of science that explores the uniqueness of each case history, what is called “idiographic” research.

This approach is more valid, in my mind, but it is less convenient for those self-styled educators or therapists or others who treat individuals as if they fit the general patterns of a category. It can seem easier to have a type of (weak) science behind you so you can behave as a craftsman rather than an artist, so you can rely on a given technique rather than to adjust your work to the uniqueness of the individual—but it’s not what I’d call the art of the true professional—whether teacher, therapist, manager, parent, or anyone else whose role is to bring individuals forth into the world, and in ways that makes use of their charges’ individual strengths.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *