Case Study: Jacob: A Jacob Was Born

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Jacob: A case study

Jacob was born on January 16, 2005. Jacob is eight years old, is currently in the second grade, and has never been retained. He has never received any remedial or special education services. His absences are infrequent and are usually as a result of school suspension for disorderly behavior in the classroom. Despite these disciplinary problems, Jacob's teachers like him and feel he demonstrates a positive attitude toward his schooling. He is a very bright and inquisitive student. He seems to want to please his teachers and peers and to be well-liked.

Jacob lives with his mother, stepfather, sister and four brothers; he is currently the youngest child in the home but his mother is expecting another child. Jacob was not premature and his mother delivered him without complications. Jacob weighed 7 pounds 6 ounces. His mother describes him as a happy infant. He slept through the night and she stated that parenting him was "pleasant." Jacob's biological father abandoned him at birth and when Jacob's mother was finally able to contact him, the man stated he did not want anything to do with his son, a statement which Jacob overheard. His stepfather has been the main father figure in Jacob's life since infancy and Jacob calls him "dad." The home situation is volatile and Jacob has witnessed physical and verbal abuse between his mother and step-father.

Jacob was diagnosed with attention deficient hyperactivity (ADHD) when he was four. To help cope with his ADHD, he receives physical exercise on a daily basis in the form of recess and physical education. He is restricted from drinking anything with caffeine (such as soda) to keep his energy levels more manageable. His parents are careful to set his bedtime at 9:00 P.M. because he must wake up at 6:30 A.M. To get to school on time, ensuring he achieves about nine and a half hours of sleep. However, in December 2012, his parents stopped administering his ADHD medication, which they felt was hurting rather than helping his behavior.

Jacob is very interested in music, dance and sports. When he chooses his playmates he has been more successful in his interactions with older children and adults, with whom he can be quite precocious with in his dialogue. Jacob does not have a best friend his own age. Jacob is fearful of being rejected by people. His behavior could indicate an attachment disorder. Fearful that his parents do not care about him because of the chaotic situation at home and the fact that he has many other siblings, Jacob looks to find security in attaching himself to older father and mother figures. However, he also clearly wants friends: Jacob has even been seen giving away his possessions to 'buy' friends his own age.

Personality development

Erik Erikson and Sigmund Freud both believed that the personality develops in a series of successive stages. Unlike Freud's theory of psychosexual stages, Erikson's theory encompasses a wider range of human experiences, including the quest for social identity as well as sexual awareness (Cherry 2013). The focal point of Erikson's psychosocial stage theory is the growth of an ego identity through social interactions. According to Erikson, our ego identity is constantly changing due to our interactions with others. A secure ego is built through the sense of competence we acquire in such dealings (Cherry 2013).

Jacob is in Erikson's psychosocial stage of "industry vs. inferiority" (Cherry 2013). At this stage he is learning what appropriate boundaries are at home and at school. He observes the behaviors of peers and adults and uses them to inform his developing sense of ego consciousness. Erikson believed that for a child to thrive and move on to the next stage, he or she would have to successfully resolve the conflict inherent within the stage. At the industry vs. inferiority stage, children are striving for a sense of security and competence. On one hand, Jacob is aware of his academic ability and that he is functioning above grade level. However, despite his desire to please others, he struggles with staying focused and on-task because of his ADHD. His parents are not stable caregivers because of the difficulties they are experiencing in their marriage. He has no secure peer attachments. Jacob says that he often wonders how he can get his peers to like them or buy their friendship, indicating self-esteem concerns. It is said that "in this stage children are learning to see the relationship between perseverance and the pleasure of a job completed" and Jacob does not feel he has 'completed' the job of making friends (Stage 4: Latency, n.d, Erik Erikson's Stages of Development).

According to Erikson, "the important event at this stage is attendance at school…The child for the first time has a wide variety of events to deal with, including academics, group activities, and friends. Difficulty with any of these leads to a sense of inferiority" (Stage 4: Latency, n.d, Erik Erikson's Stages of Development). At present, the likelihood of a successful resolution of this stage has a mixed prognosis. Sometimes, Jacob has seen evidence of how trying hard and applying himself has resulted in positive developments for his school career. However, at other times, such as when he struggles to pay attention and exhibits disciplinary issues, he does not show his full potential. The fact that these issues are not fully within his control exacerbates the conflict between industry and inferiority. His failure to establish secure peer relationships and to see his efforts to make friends come to fruition also intensifies the internal conflict.

Social development

The developmental theorist Lev Vygotsky stressed the importance of social interactions in the education of students. In contrast to his contemporary Piaget, Vygotsky placed more emphasis on how exterior forces such as culture shaped cognitive development, versus the naturally developing structures of the brain (McLeod 2007). In an ideal world, a competent teacher guides a child through modeling and age-appropriate verbal instructions. A good teacher opens up channels of communication rather than sees him or herself as the transmitter of knowledge.

For Jacob, school is particularly important because it provides him with a source of stability and competence. He is intelligent and gravitates towards teachers because they provide him with the emotional support he lacks at home. In the past, Jacob's teachers have recognized his interests and supported him by suggesting books he might like to read and taking the time to talk to him about his favorite subjects. Jacob has learned more effective study skills as a result of his efforts and at times has proven his ability to exceed academic expectations and shows real creative intelligence.

Although Vygotsky believed that "cognitive functions, even those carried out alone, as affected by the beliefs, values and tools of intellectual adaptation of the culture in which a person develops and therefore socio-culturally determined" it is important to learn these for a child to go further in school (McLeod 2007). Jacob is strong in reading and writing, which are important components of future school success. He struggles in organization, staying on task, and satisfying the other expectations of an academic environment.

Jacob has done well in school, given his limitations but it remains an open question if he would thrive in a less restrictive school environment. Like most schools, his second grade classroom embraces a model in which a teacher 'transmits' information to students. Vygotsky calls for a more active teacher-student relationship, in which the individual needs of students continually inform how a lesson is presented, suggesting how a more collaborative role between teachers and students can enhance learning in a reciprocal fashion (Driscoll, 1994). This might increase Jacob's sense of personal empowerment over the learning environment and better address the challenges posed by his ADHD.

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Jacob: A Jacob Was Born.  (2013, April 27).  Retrieved March 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/jacob-case-study-born/2746716

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"Jacob: A Jacob Was Born."  Essaytown.com.  April 27, 2013.  Accessed March 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/jacob-case-study-born/2746716.