The phenomenon of human development can be accessed from several theoretical perspectives, one of which is Piaget’s theory. Offering four stages of development as the foundational milestones in gaining essential cognitive skills, Piaget’s approach outlines the following developmental points: the sensorimotor object permanence), preoperational ((egocentric), concrete operational (conversational), formal operational (abstract) ones (Santrock, 2019). In “Boyz n the Hood,” the formal operational stage is represented as the main character, who is a child transitioning to adolescence, is trying to grapple with the ideas of loyalty, vengeance, and ethics as abstract notions.
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Incorporating a significant number of similarities to Piaget’s approach, the framework offered by Vygotsky requires viewing cognitive development as a monolithic process that should not be split into specific stages. Although social and individual levels of developing cognitive functions can be singled out in Vygotsky’s approach, the specified point of view is not the intended way of deploying Vygotsky’s paradigm (Santrock, 2019). In “Boyz n the Hood,” the fact that sociocognitive development is a fluent process is portrayed quite clearly as the leading character matures gradually, first based on interactions with Furious, and then by using the obtained knowledge to recognize the futility of vengeance.
Finally, Erikson’s theory represents an important approach toward analyzing the developmental process in people. In the film, Tre’s evolution as a character meets the crucial characteristics of Erikson’s psychosocial stage of Identity vs. Role Confusion, which is reasonable given the fact that Tre is a child transitioning to adolescence (Santrock, 2019). Specifically, Tre strives to meet the standards that his environment sets for him, as well as the values set by his brother, which creates a conflict due to the difference in the value systems. As a result, Tre finds himself in an identity crisis, being confused about the role that he must accept.
Concepts and Principles
Singling out a particular concept that “Boyz n the Hood” portrays particularly well, one should mention the Zone of Proximal Development as a central idea in Vygotsky’s theory. Implying the extent of information and skills that one can potentially learn by being exposed to one’s environment, the Zone of Proximal Development suggests that there is a gap between what a child can learn independently and what one can only learn after being provided with guidance. In the movie, the specified notion is illustrated by showing that Tre can develop the prowess and skills needed to become a member of a gang, yet he needs the support of his brother and loved ones to make a conscious decision not to become a criminal: “Either they don’t know…don’t show…or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood” (“Boyz n the Hood,” 1991). Although Vygotsky’s interpretation of the Zone of Proximal Development is typically linked to cognitive skills, the movie also portrays how it can be applied to a moral dimension.
Understanding the importance of specific points in cognitive, behavioral, and socio-emotive development of an individual is central to improving the quality of their life and addressing relevant issues that may hamper their development, as “Boyz n the Hood” shows. Representing a complex stage of emotional maturity and transfer to adolescence, the movie portrays the personal growth of Tre Styles. Applying the theories of development offered by Vygotsky, Erikson, and Piaget will help to pinpoint the problem of emotional maturity and the ability to prioritize goals, as well as develop ethical norms and values that would guide one as an adult.
Singleton. J. (1991). Boyz n the hood [Film]. Columbia Pictures.
Santrock, J. (2019). Essentials of life-span development (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.
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