As a result of mastering this topic, the student must:
• the basic principles of constructing the Gestalt theory;
• concepts formed in the frames of Gestalt theory;
• The laws of perception, formulated in the frames of Gestalt theory,
• the logic of development of child's thinking from the position of Gestalt theory;
be able to
• analyze the various phenomena described in the Gestalt theory;
• The skills of analyzing the practical application of Gestalt theory from the standpoint of modern scientific knowledge.
General characteristic of gestalt psychology of development
Gestalt psychology is one of the most famous directions in the study of child development. The emergence of Gestalt psychology was due to the difficulties in explaining a number of phenomena and in solving the problems that associative psychologists faced. Initially Gestalt psychologists sought to correct, clarify associative psychology, which eventually led to the emergence of a fundamentally different approach to understanding child development. The most prominent representatives of Gestalt psychology were M. Wertheimer, V. Kehler, K. Koffka, G. Volkelt. The approach of Gestalt psychologists not only explained a number of psychological facts, but also allowed new problems to be posed to psychology (study of the laws of structure formation, determination of the qualitative peculiarity of the child's psyche, analysis of productive thinking, etc.) and make children's psychology an experimental science.
In contrast to associative psychologists who claimed that the child's psyche carries a discrete, decomposable character, Gestalt psychologists believed that the child's psyche can be understood on the basis of the structural principle (or gestalt). According to this principle, every phenomenon or object is not a collection of different fragments, but an integral structure. As a simple example of structure, they considered a musical melody. Everyone knows that the melody is recorded with the help of notes. One could say that these notes are a melody. However, Gestalt psychologists emphasized that the melody is not a collection of notes, but their structure. Indeed, the same melody can be recorded in different notes (in different keys), but it will be perceived, despite the differences, as the same. Moreover, the melody can be played on different instruments. The sounds that will be issued by these instruments will also differ in nature, but the melody will still be recognizable. Gestalt psychologists said that recognizing the melody is based on the fact that the same structure lies behind different ways of its reproduction (singing, whistling, using different musical instruments).
The principal task that Gestalt psychologists posed was to prove that the child from the very beginning perceives the world structurally. They noticed that the whisper of the mother on the seventh day of the child's life soothes him , and the whisper of a stranger does not practically affect him. This fact proves that in the initial period of life the child is characterized by a response not to individual elements, as the associative psychologists have claimed, but to a holistic experience.
Based on the structural approach, Gestalt psychologists explained the various actions of children. Successful behavior of children, transferred to other situations, they explained in the same way as one and the same melody is transposed in different keys, i.e. as the preservation of structural relations. For example, G. Volkelt wrote: "... a common basis should be sought in those general, but not isolated in relation to the whole structure, the moments that are inherent in these various complex properties, and again only in those partial contours that in themselves already are something whole. The ability to transfer complex moments is a necessary condition not only for ... transpositions, but in general for all types of productive learning. "
For the analysis of the characteristics of child development Gestalt psychologists introduced the concept of "phenomenal field". The phenomenal field is that mental space in which a person exists. For example, for associative psychologists such a space was a stream of sensations. The flow of sensations was uniquely determined by the environment surrounding the child. Thus, his inner world could in fact be described through an external environment or situation. Gestalt psychologists noted that the external environment does not describe the mental space in which the child appears. And if so, then on the basis of external influences it is impossible to understand children's behavior. In other words, using the phenomenal field Gestalt psychologists sought to uncover what determines the child's external behavior. Let's give some examples. Consider the perception of an ink spot. One and the same ink spot for one person will seem just a slob, and the other will see in it a butterfly or a mysterious animal. People's answers to the question: "What do you see?" will depend not on the most ink spot, but on what kind of psychic reality arises in the mind of a person when he looks at a spot. In other words, the difference in perception of the same blob will be determined by the peculiarities of what the phenomenal field of man turned out to be.
The general line of development is that initially the phenomenal field in which the child turns out is structured rather primitively. One of the factors that determine this process is the maturation of the nervous system. The more mature the child's nervous system turns out, the more complex structures can form in his phenomenal field.
An important role in this process Gestalt psychologists assigned the word. At the age of two the child begins to understand that every thing has a name. This enhances the child's ability to change the situation. The word for a child, unlike an adult, has magical power. His utterance makes the thing appear in a phenomenal field. The relationship of words and things can be seen in the case when the child is invited to rename the subject. If the child is asked: "Can an inkstand be called a cow?", The child will respond negatively. The child will explain his answer by storing ink in the inkwell, and the cow gives milk. In other words, the child does not understand the convention of the designation of the object, and the connection between the word and the thing is very strong. Nevertheless, the presence of such a connection allows the child to create new structures. For example, a child playing hide-and-seek, says: "Koo-koo". Watching the boiling kettle, he declares: "Burned." With the help of different words the child means different situations - playing hide-and-seek and heating the kettle. Then the child sees the sun go down and says: "You'll burn yourself up". In fact, the child combined two different situations into one, thus creating a more complex structure, which broadens the child's ability to act in different situations. The child begins to see not only the object itself (the sun), but also the conditions in which it appears (the sun sets).
Every new behavior of the child is caused by the emergence of a new structure. Development in Gestalt psychology was interpreted as the process of the emergence of new structures in the phenomenal field. Gestalt psychologists have identified a number of areas of human development associated with the emergence of new structures. First of all, the importance of motor development was noted. To the area of motor development were attributed the child's movements and movements associated with the position of his body. They believed that at first the simplest forms of motion arise. In the future, the movements are improved and, as they mature, they are transformed into more complex ones: walking, speaking, writing.
It was emphasized that the possibilities of the child's action are determined by the development of his ego. Initially, when the child I is not yet developed, the child's behavior is determined by the situation in which he finds himself: the child is dependent ... (depending on those objects that are Around him). For example, if a two-year-old child walks on the road and sees a toy lying on the road, he forgets about everything else and begins to engage in an interesting subject. Over time, I develop a child, which is primarily due to the appearance of goals or plans. For example, a child may like to play with his friends. In this case, he will endeavor to find himself in a situation in which this is possible. Although he is at home, his thoughts will be related to playing with friends. A child can say that he wants to go to the street or visit a friend, he can refuse what the adult will offer him. In this sense, it is important to be careful in your promises to the child. After all, now he begins to live not only in the perceived situation (where it is easy to "switch" from one object to another), but also in the situation expected. In other words, his situation includes the past, the present and the future. At the same time, he has an intention to act in accordance with the expected promise. If the promise is not fulfilled, then unreasonable expectations lead the child to conflict.
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