Chapter 1 of Essentials of life-span development provides an introduction into the subject and outlines the titular concept in its many aspects. It explains how development is a constant multidimensional and multidirectional process that involves numerous aspects from personal health and parentage to social policy and sociocultural context (Santrock 2012). Apart from that, it also offers a generalized periodization of life-span development for a better understanding thereof, including such stages as infancy, early childhood, childhood, adolescence, and early, middle, and late adulthood (Santrock 2012). This periodization is particularly important for a student who just begins to study life-span development because it provides an easy-to-access chronological systematization as a reference point. Finally, the chapter also offers a brief overview of major theories of development. These include the psychoanalytic ones, such as Freud’s and Erickson’s, Piaget and Vygotsky’s cognitive theories, and behavioral, ethological, and even ecological ones (Santrock 2012). Once again, this overview, however brief it is, also performs an important function by giving the beginning reader a slightly better understanding of the basics of studying life-span development.
The most notable strength of the chapter is that it answers the implicit question of why one should study life-span development. To begin with, it offers a fairly comprehensive list of careers in this area (Santrock 2012). Moreover, it also points out that virtually everyone may benefit from a better knowledge on the subject as a parent or an educator (Santrock 2012). Finally, it rightfully notes that human life expectancy has grown considerably over the last century, which means that the proper understanding of human development across life-span is now more crucial than ever (Santrock 2012). As such, Chapter 1 provides an effective introduction to the subject and helps the beginning student to get a slightly better idea of life-span development and how and why it is researched.
Santrock, J. W. (2012). Essentials of life-span development (2nd ed.). McGraw-Hill.