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- One of the members of a girls' basketball team, 13-year-old Marta, is exceptionally advanced in athletic ability. Her coach believes that Marta is advanced for one reason: She has good genes. What do you think?
- A Year 8 boy, Brendan, is unusually short in stature. Compared to other Year 8 boys, Brendan has retained his round face and boyish appearance. He complains to his teacher that the other boys call him hurtful names linked to his height and appearance. His teacher reassures him that individual boys begin puberty and enter their growth spurt sometime during a broad age range and that he can expect to start getting taller at some point during the next few years. What do you think?
- A year 1 teacher observes one of her children, Bonnie, trying to tie her shoes, hold a pencil and string beads. Bonnie can't do any of these things. Her teacher believes that she can't speed up Bonnie's growth in fine motor control. The teacher excuses Bonnie from all classroom centres that enlist fine motor abilities, such as 'Puzzles' and 'Arts and Crafts.' Instead, she asks Bonnie to build big block towers or play in the dress-up area. What would you do?
- As children arrive each morning in Ms Nancy's kindergarten class, they spend their first hour and a half copying sentences from storybooks onto lined paper with pencils. A few children enjoy the activity but most do not. Ms Nancy believes that it's best to disregard children's complaints, and she encourages them to continue to copy sentences. Ms Nancy tells the parents that this exercise is developmentally appropriate practice because the children are practising a skill that is appropriate for an educated person to develop. What do you think?
- Kayla and Ellie watch as the popular Year 7 girls giggle and comment loudly about what Sarah was wearing at the gathering on the weekend as she walks past. Sarah walks over to where Kayla and Ellie are standing, and one of the popular girls yells, 'Ooh, don't let her sit with you; her dress sense might be contagious!' Everyone laughs, and Kayla and Ellie move off with the group, leaving Sarah behind. Could this type of behaviour be considered a form of aggression? What harm might arise from this type of behaviour in child or adolescent social groups?
- At the beginning of the school year, Mr Jones finds out that in his Year 5 class he has a student who is gifted, a student who has high functioning autism and two students with high anxiety. It has not yet been made clear what level of support the students will have or what resources will be available to him. Mr Jones wants to face this challenge with confidence and a sense of efficacy for teaching all students. What would you do?
Response to case study 1
The case of Martha makes it clear that her athletic abilities is highly advanced for her age and physique, as admitted by her basketball team coach. According to her coach, her advanced athletic abilities are a result of her genetic structure. There have been numerous studies that confirm contribution of genetics in an individual's physical abilities. It is claimed by such studies that genes play a vital role in appearance, mental and physical capabilities of a person, more prominently in the early years of life (Loland, 2015). Martha is 13 right now, which suggests that impact of genes may have a significant impact on her exceptional athletic abilities. On basis of her age, it can be argued that at the age of 13, her genes are providing peak contribution. As she grows older, share of gene in her athletic ability will lower and larger share will come from other factors such as- her dietary habits, her exercise schedule, practice habits, hard work and environment.
Researchers have focused on impact and influence of genes in athletic abilities of a person from a very long time. According to Guth and Roth (2014), ACTN3 and ACE I/D are two of the most notable gene variations that contribute towards athletic abilities like- power and endurance. This study also indicated that presence of these genes can be identified in a person, but effective contribution to athletic performance boost cannot be predicted ahead of time. This study also suggested that the gene testing is becoming a trend among people to identify or predict athletic talent. Enyon et al. (2013) also argued about positive influence of genes in an individual's athletic abilities and suggested that genes are strong indicators of athletic abilities. Similar to the study performed by Guth and Roth, this study also found ACTN3 to have significant importance in various types of athletic abilities.
In a case like this, contribution of genes cannot be denied and the outcome will always remain the same- Martha is indeed exceptionally advanced for a girl of her age. The optimum approach for the coach in this situation should be to focus on development of Martha's skills and suggest her a career in professional level basketball. For the coach, the next decision is to identify if advanced athletic abilities of Martha are not getting hampered by her current team's performance being lower than her. In an educational environment, human psychology indicates that an individual learns a lot of things from his or her peers and mostly compares performance of oneself with others. Importance of learning from peers is also supported by studies performed by O’Donnell, et al. (2012, pp. 403-406). As Martha is significantly better than her teammates because of genetic advantage, it can harm her progress in career if she starts to feel superior to others and stops pushing her athletic limits further.
From a psychology standpoint, young athletes are not mature enough to understand how to take advantage of their skill set in long-term or the career path that will help them the most. In this scenario, psychological guidance is important for Martha and it should come from her coach. If the coach finds Martha simply outclassing her teammates, he should probably upgrade her to senior team to have the ability to test her abilities better. Playing against senior basketball team players, Martha will lose some of the advantage against older and more experience players, requiring her to make efforts to match up with skill level of senior players or to outperform higher level players. With age, practice and skills will start to play a larger role in Martha's athletic capabilities and benefits of her exceptional genetic advantage will start to matter less and less.