An Iq Test Often Used For Second-Language Learners Is The Nature Vs Nurture – A Sociological Approach to Feral, Isolated, and Institutionalized Children

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Nature Vs Nurture – A Sociological Approach to Feral, Isolated, and Institutionalized Children

A common question related to sociology deals with the nature of the human being versus the way he is raised. Does he know if he is a boy or a girl at birth, or does he make this distinction based on the actions and words of those around him? How does prison affect a person’s functioning once they are released into the world? These questions are strongly related to nature versus nurture – does a human enter the world with basic human function, or does he develop these functions as a result of those around him.

A topic that sociologists can study is feral children. These are children who were abandoned at a very young age, with death usually the intention of the parents, but were rather raised and cared for by animals. Sociologists have found that children raised by animals have acquired the instincts and behaviors of the species that raised them. An example of this occurred in the 1700s, when a feral child known as “the wild child of Aveyron” was discovered by scientists of the day. It was found in France in 1798, and it was observed that it walked on all fours, it did not indicate the pain related to the cold temperature, and it pounced on small animals – devouring them raw in a ravenous way. Although most sociologists will discard the importance of feral children due to the sparseness of cases, it still teaches us a lesson that children must learn to act at a young age. This essential time of youth is when children develop many essential social behaviors.

A slightly more common study is about isolated children. These are children who have been raised by a person or a small group of people in an isolated area with minimal or no contact with a typical society. A girl, Isabelle, was raised by her deaf and mute mother in her grandfather’s attic. After being discovered at the age of 6, he found that he could not speak, and instead relied on gestures to communicate with his mother. He also had a disease called rickets due to an inadequate diet and a lack of sun. Basically, this made his legs useless. His behavior towards strangers, especially men, was like a wild animal. He treated them with fear and hostility – and could only make noise in the form of strange crows. She initially scored almost zero on an IQ test – but because Isabelle was discovered at such a young age, she was able to reach the learning level expected for her age within two years. It is possible that the results of the isolation can be reversed if the child is younger than twelve years. The primary problem, however, was the lack of a language, which is basic for all human interaction. All other interactions can be divided into subcategories for voice communication.

These first two studies, isolated and feral children, can be seen for one of Charles Horton Cooley’s theories on human interaction. Cooley, who lived in the late 1800s, created a theory that summarizes how human development unfolds, capturing the theory in the concept of “the same glass.” This theory had three primary elements: we imagine how we appear to those around us, we interpret the reactions of others, and we develop a concept of self. The basic essence is that we look at those around us, and base our appearance and social interactions on what they do and what they expect. If a feral child is raised by animals, it will acquire the attributes of those animals. Similarly, an isolated child will base his actions on other isolated individuals or none at all, and will develop little or no basic interaction skills.

More common than isolated or feral children are institutionalized children. Two or three centuries ago, orphanages were very different from what they are today. The children were raised with little or no care in a strict schedule. In addition to this, children are often beaten, torn, and denied food. As a result, children who come from orphanages tend to have difficulty establishing close bonds with others, and have a lower IQ. In an account of a good Iowa orphanage in the 1930s, children were raised in the nursery until about six months. They were placed in cots that had high sides, effectively limiting their view of the world around them. No toys were hung on the cots, no mother kept them close. The interaction they had was limited to nurses changing their diapers, beds, and providing them with medication. Although everyone thought that mental retardation was a “he was just born that way” problem, two sociologists investigated and followed the lives of the children who were raised in this Iowa orphanage. HM Skeels and HB Dye began to realize that a lack of mental stimulation was depriving these children of the basic human interaction skills they needed to be effective members of society. In one study, they took thirteen children who were obviously retarded and assigned them a retarded woman to look after them. They also selected twelve children who were to be raised in the orphanage in the usual way, and tested both groups for IQ. The first group was noted to develop an intense relationship with their respective “mothers”, and received much more

attention than their counterparts. While all the children studied were still retarded, it was noted that the IQ of the first group increased by an average of 28 points. In an equally surprising statistic, it was found that the average of the other group dropped by an average of 30 IQ points. This study showed the importance of human interaction at a young age.

A final lesson can be taken from private animals. These are animals that were torn from their mothers at a young age and raised in isolation. A famous study regarding this topic was conducted by Harry and Margaret Harlow, who raised a monkey in isolation. They built two “mothers” for their monkey, one that was a wire closet with a nipple on which the monkey could nurse, and one that was covered in soft cloth. They found that even though the first mother provided nourishment, the baby clung to the sweet mother when frightened, showing that the monkey felt more comfortable through intimate physical contact – or cuddling.

When the monkey was introduced to a monkey community, he was rejected, and had no concept of how normal monkey civilization was structured. He did not know how to play normally with other monkeys, nor how to engage in sexual relations, despite several weak attempts.

After conducting this study with female monkeys, they found that those who became pregnant became vicious mothers – they hit their babies, kicked them, or crushed them against the floor. These were monkeys that were raised in this isolated environment for years, and had no chance of integration into society. Other monkeys have been observed to overcome these disabilities with increasingly positive results: a corresponding relationship with the amount of time spent in isolation. Monkeys isolated for three to six months were integrated relatively easily, while monkeys isolated for years suffered irreversible effects. When applied to humans, they understand that social interaction is key to an efficient social product.

In short, society makes us human. Children do not naturally develop into adults, and social ideas are not transferred via DNA. Even if the body can grow, the isolation victims to be little more than simple animals. In fact, the lack of language skills results in an inability to even understand the relationships between people – such as father, mother, teacher and friend. To become an adult, children must be surrounded by people who care for them. This process called “socialization” shows that we are made by those around us.

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