Posted by: aboutalbion | July 20, 2012

Childhood (5)

Erikson’s fourth stage, school age, lasts from around five years of age to around twelve or thirteen years of age.  (Erikson actually called this stage the ’latency’ stage –  a stage in which something exists, I suppose, but is not yet developed).  The family of a school age child is still important, but they are no longer the total authorities they once were.  The child now has significant relationships with school and neighbourhood.

According to Erikson, a sense of industry is the component of personality that has the opportunity to flourish in the fourth stage of life, and industry v inferiority is the issue to be resolved during this stage.

A school age child must commit to systematic instruction and to acquiring the skills that their society requires them to have.  “Such is the wisdom of the [epigenetic principle] that at no time is the child more ready to learn quickly and avidly, to become big in the sense of sharing obligation, discipline, and performance than at the end of the period of [pre-school play – the previous stage].” (1969 p122)

Erikson suggests that a sense of inferiority can arise when “family life may not have prepared [her/him] for school life …”. (1968 p124)  Erikson has in mind inappropriate resolutions of the tasks of previous stages which are evidenced when “the child may still want his mommy more than knowledge”. (1968 p124)  In addition, a school age child may find out that the colour of her/his skin or the background of her/his parents are the factors that decide her/his worth as a pupil.

With a healthy balance between industry (on the one hand) and age-appropriate inferiority (on the other hand), a school age child will display competences at making things and producing results.

[Erikson, Erik H (1968) Identity: Youth and Crisis.  London: Norton.]


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