Malleability, Plasticity, and Individuality: How Children Learn and Develop in Context

Pamela Cantor, Turnaround for Children; Harvard Graduate School of Education
Lily Steyer, Turnaround for Children

This article was published online on January 24, 2018 in Applied Developmental Science.

There has been an explosion of knowledge over the last few decades about how children develop into whole individuals, how they become learners, and how contextual factors nourish or hinder their development. At the same time, there is a great need to align knowledge on child development from the biology, neuroscience, psychology, and social sciences fields. Developmental systems theories is a general perspective on development, heredity, and evolution.

This article, along with its companion article, Drivers of Human Development: How Relationships and Context Shape Learning and Development, show how developmental systems theories provide a framework for viewing the effects of multiple factors within micro- and macro-environments on the shaping of how children learn, change, and grow throughout their development.

The article references multiple correlational, longitudinal, and causal studies, describes key findings, and integrates deep literature of how human beings develop within the developmental systems theories framework.