“A baby goose (a gosling), moments after it breaks through its shell, begins to walk after its mother. From then on, the goose will attach itself to other geese in all its social behaviors. A newborn human baby, just a few hours after birth, sucks on a nonnutritive nipple more when the sucking is followed by a recording of their mother’s voice than when the sucking is followed by a recording of another female voice.” (Lerner 86) It is easy to say that animal development is strongly influenced by nature and that human development is strongly influenced by nurture.
Human development has two aspects: genetics and behavior. Hair color, height, bone structure and possible inheritance of diseases all depend on genetics. How a person looks and how good his or her immune system is all on dependant on what’s written in the biological will. Human behavior on the other hand is more difficult to understand. Richard Mulcaster said, ‘that treasure…bestowed upon them by nature, to be bettered in them by nurture.” (qtd. In Pinker 1) There are several behavioral attributes that are inherited but with proper guidance and practice they can get better. For example, if a person is athletically strong because of the genes he or she inherited from his parents it can help him compete with other athletes. If he trains or practices regularly he can not only compete but possibly beat all the opponents.
Darwin and Locke had different theories about human development and their opinions were the absolute opposites of each other. John Locke believed that nurture was the determinant of human behavior and that experiences developed the human mind. He said that “people were born essentially blank, like a blackboard, and who they “became” was entirely the result of their experiences.” (Nurture-nature controversy) He believed that culture, upbringing, education and the surrounding environment all influence how a person develops. Charles Darwin on the other hand believed that nature played the major role in human development. He argued that “human behavior is best understood through knowledge of its origins—in both the evolution of the species and the early development of individuals.” (Child development) Both Darwin and Locke had opinions on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Nature determines things that are already predestined. Whatever nature bestows upon us cannot be changed. However, the way we deal with what comes our way depends on our behavioral patterns. This behavior is strongly influenced by the way we grow up, the education we receive and the kinds of parents we have. Even in Disney movies like Tarzan and George of the Jungle we see two human characters brought up far away from human civilization. Although both of them look like humans, they act and behave according to their environments and the way they have been brought up by the jungle. It is also common for people who have been mistreated during their childhood, whether it is physical abuse or oral abuse affect their behavior in the future.
If nature was the only determinant of human development any form of nurture would be unnecessary. People would stop caring for their children and human experiences wouldn’t be as valuable. The only reason besides love that parents care so deeply about their actions around their children, or the school they go to, or the culture they are brought up in is because it strongly influences their development.
“Child Development.” MSN. 2008. Web.
Lerner, Richard M. Concepts and Theories of Human Development. Mahwah, N.J.: L. Erlbaum, 2002.
“Nurture-nature controversy.” bnet. 2008. Web.
Pinker, Steven. “Why nature & nurture wont go away.” 2008. Web.