Observations of a Sixth Grade Class

For my homework that involved observing a certain developmental stage, I decided to watch a 6th grade World Languages class at my own school, _______. I noticed many different things during this time, and I took almost two pages of notes about their behavior. Some things I was looking for included: gender roles, if the sixth graders followed them, and whether they fit better into Concrete Operational stage or the Formal Operational stage of Piaget’s Stage Theory of Cognitive Development, because they were right on the edge of the ages defining these stages, identifying if they had gone through their adolescent growth spurt, and how they seemed to be acting according to Erickson’s stage four of Industry vs.

Inferiority. Based on their clothing, haircuts, and the way they acted, I would have to say that they have already been molded to fit into their gender roles. Many of the girls had long hair, and the ones that had dye in it had pink streaks. One girl had short hair, but she still seemed to fit well into her gender role. I also counted and saw that five girls were wearing a visible pink article of clothing, while no boys wore pink.

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In general, the girls sat at tables with only other girls, while the boys sat at tables with only other boys; however, two girls broke this and sat at a table with boys. The boys were throwing paper airplanes at each other in class, while the girls only really misbehaved by whispering and giggling with each other. From these observations, I came to the conclusion that the sixth graders had already been taught their gender roles, and that they fit into them. I think that depending on the person, the sixth graders fell into both the Concrete Operational and the Formal Operational stages. Some of them were more egocentric, so they belonged to the Concrete Operational stage in that sense, but they also were able to think somewhat abstractly when giving their presentations of their countries, which falls under Formal Operational. It makes sense that they could be under both categories though, because they are right on the border for the ages that define those categories.

Looking at the sixth graders, I could tell that many of them hadn’t gotten their adolescent growth spurt. Many of the boys were still very short, and their voices hadn’t deepened yet. The girls were also fairly short, and many of them hadn’t yet started developing breasts. Noticing this, I began to wonder if sixth graders should be in middle school, or if they should still be a part of elementary school instead. The sixth graders fell into Erickson’s stage four category based on their age. This category is Industry vs.

Inferiority, which is defined as the stage of life surrounding the mastery of knowledge and intellectual skills. Because we were observing them in a class where they had to give a presentation of their knowledge, I could tell that some of them were still unsure of themselves and their intellectual skills. When asked questions about their country, they would become more nervous, and sometimes didn’t know the correct answer, which caused one girl to blush. However, a few of them seemed to know their topic very well, and they were confident while giving their presentations, leading me to believe that they had or soon will resolve this conflict and move onto Identity vs. Confusion. Overall, the 6th graders seemed to be awkward while giving their presentations, but in a way that led me to believe they would soon get over it.

The sixth graders fit into their gender roles through their clothing, haircuts, and behavior, they exhibited characteristics from both the Concrete Operational and Formal Operational stages, these sixth graders had not yet gone through their adolescent growth spurt, and they were close to resolving stage four of Erickson’s theory. I feel that this homework assignment was meaningful in helping us to understand how ‘real’ psychologists do their work.