age(redirected from Coming of age)
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in humans, a stage of development that is characterized by specific regularities of formation of the organism and personality and by relatively stable morphophysiological and psychological traits. While age is a stage in the biological maturing of the organism, a process controlled by genetic factors, it is also a concrete result and stage of the social-psychological development of the personality and is determined by the conditions of life, training, and upbringing.
The content and form of training and upbringing are historically composed and varied according to age; in their turn they affect the determination of the boundaries and possibilities of a given age. In contemporary pedagogy and developmental psychology, several ages are differentiated with respect to the known relationships of the boundaries: infancy (from birth to one year); pre-preschool, or early childhood (from one to three); preschool (from three to seven); early school age (from seven to ten years); juvenile, or middle school (from ten to 15); and late school, or early youth (15 to 18 years old). Beyond these limits there is no generally accepted classification in the literature; only old age is considered separately. With the increased longevity noted in the 20th century, gerontology and gerontopsychology have arisen as disciplines to study the problems of prolonging the active life of a human being. Each age has a characteristic structure of cognitive, emotional, and volitional properties and qualities; forms of behavior; types of relationships to the environment; and peculiarities of structure and functioning of various organs and systems of the organism. This structure, however, is not invariable: in the 20th century a general acceleration of the physical and mental development of children has been noted. On the other hand, educational theory, in solving the problem of optimizing training, widens the possibilities of age and the boundaries of acquiring knowledge. Training must take into account not only the level of development achieved but also the development perspectives (the concept of “zones of imminent development,” as formulated by L. S. Vygotskii): the teacher must know not only what is present in a child of a given age but also what can be achieved, given certain conditions, by the child in the near future.
A. V. PETROVSKII