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I.10. Concept of human growth and development:

An individual’s origin is from a fertilized egg ie the cell developed afeter the successful fusion of sperm and ovum. This cell undergoes the process of growth and development and ultimately turns into a full fledged human adult induced by the various factors , events and genetic information. This cycle of changes is physical, mental, emotional, etc. Growth and development are important natural processes in an individual.

Growth refers to increase in physical dimensions of an individual, e.g., increase in height, weight, etc. or various parts and organs of the body. It implies increase in size or general bodily growth. The increase is limited by hereditary factors, and influenced by environmental factors, such as, ethnicity, climate, diet and many other factors.

In Encyclopedia Britannica, growth is defined as “an increase in size or the amount of an entity”. It means growth involves all those structural and physiological changes that take place within individual during the process of maturation. For example, growth of a child means the increase in weight, height and different organs of the child‟s body.

Hurlock has defined Growth as “change in size, in proportion, disappearance of old features and acquisition of new ones”. Growth refers to structural and physiological changes (Crow and Crow, 1962). Thus, growth refers to an increase in physical size of whole or any of its part and can be measured.

Development refers to enhancement in the functioning of the human body. It entails changes in structure, form, or shape. It takes into account the increase in dimensions, change in proportions and adjustment of parts. Development refers to the qualitative changes in the organism as whole. Development is a continuous process through which physical, emotional and intellectual changes occur. It is a more wider and comprehensive term than growth.

In Webster‟s dictionary development is defined as “the series of changes which an organism undergoes in passing from an embryonic stage to maturity.”

In Encyclopedia Britannica is the term development defined as “the progressive change in size, shape and function during the life of an organism by which its genetic potential are translated into functioning adult system.”

Development includes all those psychological changes that take in the functions and activities of different organs of an organism.

Development is continuous and gradual process (Skinner). According to Crow and Crow (1965) development is concerned with growth as well as those changes in behavior which results from environmental situation.”

Thus, development is a process of change in growth and capability over time due to function of both maturation and interaction with the environment.

Development is evaluated by improvement in the performance of the human body. Development is always gradual, progressive and diversified in form according to different periods of growth.

The terms ‘growth’ and ‘development’ are used interchangeably and considered to be one and the same. Both communicate to the measurement of changes occurring in individuals. The term development includes the perception and process of growth. But strictly speaking growth refers to increase in size and development includes not only growth in size but also functioning of body processes, growth in intelligence, understanding, personality, etc.

  1. Growth can be easily observed, measured, but development cannot be measured
  2. Growth stops as soon as an individual attains maturity, but development of an individual is a continuous process throughout life.
  3. Growth refers to specific characteristic of the body such as growth in height or arm length, but development is concerned with the entire human body.
  4. Development is also possible without growth.

Growth refers to physiological changes.

Development refers to overall changes in the individual. It involves changes in an orderly and coherent type towards the goal of maturity
Changes in the quantitative respect is termed as growth. Development changes in the quality along with quantitative aspect.
Growth does not continue throughout life. Development continues throughout life
Growth stops after maturation Development is progressive
Growth occurs due to the multiplication of cells. Development occurs due to both maturation and interaction with the environment
Growth is cellular. Development is organizational.
Growth is one of the part of the developmental process Development is a wider and comprehensive term.
Growth may be referred to describe the changes in particular aspects of the body and behavior of the organism. Development describes the changes in the organism as a whole.
The changes produced by growth are subjects of measurements. They may be quantified and observable in nature Development brings qualitative changes which are difficult to measure directly. They are assessed through keen observation of behavior in different situations.
Growth may or may not bring development Development is possible without growth.

The entire period of growth can be divided into two major phases, i.e., Prenatal (before birth) and Postnatal (after birth).

The prenatal phase –

  1. The fertiized egg (ovum) or
  2. Zygote, the Embryo and
  3. The Foetus

Postnatal phase

  1. infancy,
  2. childhood,
  3. adolescence, ie the cell
  4. maturity and
  5. senescence.

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