Perspectives and Peers 3, Articles Assigned in Class

Note: This is a selection from Perspectives and Peers, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

As with the assigned books, the assigned articles were more mixed than initially expected. Unlike the books – which were generally mixed on the value of peer interaction – at least one article was strongly supportive. Another trends is that while most of the books were mixed on the value of multiple perspectives, only one of the articles was likewise qualified. The other two were strongly supportive.

The concept of peer interaction gets an unexpected clubbing from Steinberg and Morris (2001). On page 92, they appear to take issue with the concept discussed in class that peer interaction should be between equals. However, Steinberg and Morris write that “most adolescents are influenced by peers because they admire them and respect their opinions.” This implies that adolescents who are influenced to think rationally do so under the guidance of adolescents they respect (and so those who have power of them). Likewise, even though we discussed that the correlation of rationality with age is weak, the influence of peers is greatest “in middle adolescence, compared to early and late adolescence.” Interesting, multiple perspectives may become less important with age, because individuals view themselves “less in terms of social comparisons” (91) – that is, from fewer perspectives except their own – as they age.

From Allen, et al. (2005) comes another knock: peer interaction may be a product of rationality, not a cause. To quote from the second page of their article, “the positive and open stance toward social relationships that is likely lead to popularity do not arise de novo, but rather to derive from and be closely associated with positive interactions with the family.” Implicit in this passage is that non-peer social interaction, similar to mentoring, occurs within the familyand this enables the adolescent to use rational reflection and coordinate multiple viewpoints later. The same article mentions that adolescents strongly exposed to multiple exposures from peers – popular ones – make less rational choices earlier in adolescents yet make rational ones later one. Perhaps this is evidence that the rationality benefits of multiple perspectives is cumulative.

A third view, from von Glasersfeld (1995), defends peer interaction and multiple perspectives. He present children nearly as multiple-perspective peer-interaction machines: discussing free play by children, von Glasersfeld notes that the children “have derived all sorts of rules for [moving their bodies, moving objects with balls, driving carts, etc.] … [that] … within the students’ experiential world … are quite viable” (15). Indeed, von Glasersfeld defends this derived rationality from the charge that it is “wrong (“From the physicist’s point of view, these notions and rules are misconceptions”) because to they are viable within the range of perspectives the children have available. The author’s solution for harmonizing these is by adding more multiple perspective (counterexamples that are valid to the children).

Perspectives and Peers, a tdaxp series:
Perspectives and Peers 1. Introduction
Perspectives and Peers 2. Books Assigned in Class
Perspectives and Peers 3. Articles Assigned in Class
Perspectives and Peers 4. Other Articles
Perspectives and Peers 5. Interview with the Subject
Perspectives and Peers 6. Conclusion
Perspectives and Peers 7. Bibliography
Perspectives and Peers 8. Interview with Mark Safranski