Growth does not continue throughout life. A person can develop even after physical growth stops and maturity is reached. Development may be possible without any significant growth. It is a fact that some children do not grow in size, but they do develop ability.
Growth of the child can be measured, but development can only be observed by noting changes in activity and behavior. Any person, who is concerned with the education of an individual at whatever age, must recognize the presence of and the rate of development of various areas of human growth. School men and women must take cognizance of not only of the fact that the potential learner consists of brain, but that he is complex of many phases of growth.
Rate of growth and development is different for each child for each trait. It is not unusual, for example, for a teacher who has taught a child at 7 years of age to discover that at the age of 12 the child displays a much greater and a much lower degree of mental alertness than was found in earlier years. Some children develop rapidly in one or another trait during early years and then seen to reach a plateau, which means there is no further development.
Still others appear to be retarded in early years. But they show sudden rise in development beyond the normal lines. These possible variations in growth must be taken into consideration, if curriculum and techniques of teaching are to be adjusted to the individual needs of learners.
The chief functions of the school are to inculcate in children certain commonly used skills: reading writing and figuring. These areas of education are important. If education is to be functional, it must spread out to include all-round guidance of the learner in fitting him for successful participation in all phases of his present and future life. If we accept the premise to be successful, learning must follow the learner’s progressive and varying ability to benefit from instruction.
It is necessary that teachers understand the developmental potentialities of each individual learner. Taking the changes of the child in size, in proportion, of both the physical and mental development into consideration, the teacher must adjust his teaching to the following:
(a) The effect of effort to learn depends upon the degree of growth and maturation.
(b) Rate of growth of the child is more rapid in the early years.
(c) Each individual has his own rate of growth. So the individual differences in growth and development must be taken into consideration by the teacher.
(d) In the early childhood, fantastic imagination is the apparent mental development of the child with little reference to reality.
(e) Heredity and environment both are essential to any growth.
(f) Growth may be retarded or accelerated.