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Stanley Hall

A well written research paper on Stanley Hall will focus primarily on child development and evolutionary theory G. Stanley Hall was a profound psychologist and educator. One of his greatest contributions was to the development of the study of psychology, founding the American Journal of Psychology and serving as the first president of the American Psychological Association. In this role, he helped to hone the study of educational psychology, paying close attention to the role that adolescent development plays on appropriate instruction and educational growth.

Many of his findings in this regard were considered controversial: he called for the separate education of men and women as a result of their natural evolutionary differences and incorporated some basic elements of eugenics into his theories. He was a profound advocate for the sterilization of those deemed physically, emotionally, or socially inferior; he supported selective breeding. He also felt that adolescents should be educated by a strong, authoritarian figure, one that serves more to indoctrinate adolescents than to encourage independent thought or the development of individual opinions. Through the use of corporal punishment, the creation of a fear of God and a love for country, Hall felt that children could grow to appropriate, successful members of society, resisting all temptations and eschewing any “evil” elements that might otherwise emerge.

Stanley Hall's Contributions to Education

Stanley Hall

Some of the many contributions that Hall made to the field of Psychology outside of his role as the President of the American Psychological Association include:

  • First American to Earn a Ph.D.

  • Founder of the American Psychology Lab at John Hopkins

  • President of Clark University

  • Founded the American Journal of Psychology

  • Instrumental at Determining the Effect of Adolescence on Education

According to Hall, adolescence is a time of storm and stress. During adolescence the individuals “thoughts, feelings, and actions oscillate between conceit and humility, good and temptation, happiness and sadness”. The ability of adolescents to change moods and behavior suddenly is well noted in aspects of popular culture and in countless books and journal articles.

During adolescence many believe youths act in ways to detach themselves from parents. However, Hall maintains this view is too simplistic. Adolescents do not simply move away from parental influence and toward the influence of peers. In fact, adolescents remain attached to their parents during adolescence and in the primary grades. This attachment aids adolescents in navigating the challenges and uncertainties of the world and makes them better able to initiate moves toward autonomy. At the same time adolescents do begin spending more time with peers and giving in to peer pressure. Studies indicate adolescents who remain attached to their parents have an easier time forming attachments to peers.

The advancement towards autonomy does not occur in a short time span, but rather, occurs over a time span of ten to fifteen years. At the beginning of adolescence many individuals push for more autonomy and control, especially in making the decisions that impact them. At the same time parental control is needed in that these youths do not yet possess the intellectual or emotional maturity necessary for making the best decisions. Parents who are influential in helping their teenagers develop independence allow them to make the decisions they are mature enough to make while retaining control over other areas.

Stanley Hall and Parental Influences in the Primary student

You research paper should stress that most of the conflicts between parents and adolescents involve minor issues such as keeping a room clean, completing homework and other ordinary family-related matters. These conflicts increase at the “apex of pubertal change” and again in late adolescence. The disagreements between parent and adolescent help guide the adolescent toward autonomy, especially when he or she engages in independent problem solving. During late adolescence individuals go through another phase of development. This phase occurs when the adolescents leave home for college or for other reasons. At this stage adolescents hunger for independence yet are still dependent on parents for emotional and social support.

Hall further posit that nonparental adults have a strong influence on the psychosocial development of adolescents. Studies indicate that nonparental adults such as teachers have a positive influence on adolescents at high risk due to poverty or the mental illness of parents. Other studies found that teenagers who have a close bond with an adult other than a parent have higher levels of optimism, greater hopes for the future and fewer bouts with depression. Adolescents who form close bonds with a nonparental adult have another source of emotional support. These non-parent adults serve as role models. Studies indicate adolescents who form close attachments with these role models are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, form better relationships, and score higher grades in school. The positive impact is present even when the role model is assigned such as through the Big Brother, Big Sister program.

During adolescence individuals are under intense pressure to conform to the wishes of their peers. This need to conform usually peeks when adolescents are in the eighth or ninth grade. Moreover, adolescence is a time when individuals attempt to balance their needs of understanding and intimacy. During adolescence individuals turn to peers as well as parents for emotional support and friendship becomes an important avenue to intimacy. According to Hall, the friendships developed in adolescence become an important way for teenagers to explore concepts of self.