The terms growth and development are often used interchangeably, however the overall development process encompasses the many forms of growth we experience. The developmental process integrates and organizes all of the ways in which we have grown. Development is a lifelong process. Growth is quantitative, while development is qualitative. Development implies shifting, but it does not imply constant, consistent growth. Growth is not linear, and so, development is a nonlinear process. Human development, identity development, urban development, the development of art, personal development, and communal development are all non-linear and not always visible or easily recognizable.
Without making an active effort to reflect on my experience in this class, I may not have noticed all of the personal growth I have made. The third learning outcome listed in the syllabus has advised us: “To reflect upon changes in learning and outlook over time; to make personal, professional, and civic plans based on that self-reflection.” The reflection process has been put into action through our blog posts, class discussions, these self-reflection essays, and each of our individual interactions with the material Dr. McCoy has provided us. Over the development of this entire class, we have been given the task to both reflect and build upon everything that we learn – whether the knowledge was sourced from Steve Prince, guest lectures, Dr. McCoy, a fellow student, or from our own individual vats of prior knowledge. The ways in which this class has fostered my personal growth will allow me to continue my own journey of self-development long after it ends.
In Psychology, it is stressed that human development is highly individualistic and progresses through stages. As the body and brain physically develop, individuals develop abilities that allow them to interact with the world in different ways. Our interactions with the world then influences our development. Because change occurs in every stage of life, human development is studied throughout the entire lifespan. Developmental psychologist James Marcia theorized that identity development involves four identity statuses: diffusion, foreclosure, moratorium, and identity achievement. While this process of exploring the self is highly significant in identity development during adolescence, the process has been shown to cyclicly continue into adulthood, as Marcia’s research supports . For example, the existence of mid-life crises would fall into the “moratorium” stage, which is defined by the experience of an identity crisis. As we continue to expand our life experiences and our interactions with the world, we continue to develop our individual selves.
The developments that take place in the world around us also reflect growth – however, not all growth is positive. In the introduction to Kim Vaz-Deville’s Walking Raddy: The Baby Dolls of New Orleans, Vaz-Deville notes the negative impact the development of the Riverfront Highway had on the local black community. While this highway was built with the intent of bridging together two areas of New Orleans, it (by a cruel irony) tore apart the culturally prominent black neighborhood Treme. Vaz-Deville explains that the freeway “tore through homes, businesses, and the center of the thriving community… property values declined, businesses closed or moved, residents were scattered throughout the city… crime, blight, rage and sorrow came to settle there” (Vaz-Deville, xv). Urban planning is defined as a technical and political process concerned with the development and design of land use and the built environment, including air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications, and distribution networks. While city development plans have been instituted with the purpose of redesigning and improving upon public space, they have also historically (and continuously) perpetuated racial inequality in America.
Throughout Steve Prince’s art, issues such as race, representation, systemic oppression, historical events, religious ideologies, and socioeconomic issues are all intertwined to fit into larger narratives surrounding humanity, the importance of the community, and co-existence. Prince creates with the intent of asking the viewer to discover and develop new ways to think about their place in the world. Prince directs the viewer to question the connection between our own individual life experiences and our interactions with the world affect our self-development, and vice versa. Prince calls out the foundational racism that is persistent in American society and addresses the importance of developing healing intentions via reflection and then action.
As I explained in one of my previous blog posts:
“Prince’s art is physically “stagnant, [but]it is ever changing and evolving. Steve Prince explained that his art is constantly “evolving” as the viewers are “ever-evolving and in a state of becoming… the art is being reborn daily, and so too should we be reborn and in pursuit of a deeper understanding of self and everything around us”.
Like human life itself, Prince’s art continues to develop and shift throughout the lifetime.
While tracking my self-developmental progress throughout this course, I have taken into consideration:
- How I have utilized my previous experiences and knowledge;
- The things I have learned and experienced during the course, and;
- The different ways in which I have experienced self-growth.
The development I have made over these past few months have been contingent on how all of these areas have interacted and contributed to my overall progress. By both directly and indirectly analyzing Prince’s work, this course has expanded my understanding and importance of the community. Prior to this class, I already acknowledged the privilege I obtain as a white person. However, I have grown to realize the importance of my voice in relation to my community and my own value. Prince’s art brings attention to the immediate need for action, and recognizes the importance of the individual within their community.
Going into this course, I was very self-conscious about my writing and text-analysis abilities. Being a Psychology major surrounded by predominantly English majors, I doubted my ability to keep up and contribute to the class. In the beginning, I felt uncomfortable inserting myself and asserting my ideas because I did not think I was “good enough”. This is an idea that trickles down into various aspects of my life, and I struggle with undermining my self-worth daily. It is near-impossible to try to add value in the community if you cannot first find value in yourself.
This class has become encompassed by the community it has created – each of our own unique perspectives and contributions have lead our discussions, and I had the opportunity to get to know and converse with so many different people. As a psychology major, my classes have been very impersonal and have not allowed much room for collaboration. Contrastingly, this course has allowed me to experience self-growth alongside everyone else in this little community. Each of us have been able to grow and add value to this class in our own individual way.
Dr. McCoy has provided us with tools and information that allowed us to communicate, connect, and grow – just as Steve provides his viewers with visual tools to better understand their connections to the world around them and grow our understanding of humanity. As we grow as individuals, both independently and collaboratively, we continue to foster the invaluable development of our selves and our contributions to the community.
The first step in achieving personal growth is reflection. By actively reflecting on these past few months, I have been able to acknowledge and appreciate all of the growth I have made and perhaps, would not have otherwise noticed. The development of this class has not only made ample room for academic and communal growth, but personal growth as well. The ending of this course does not equate to the ending of our development processes – we have been provided an opportunity to grow, and now have the opportunity to continue growing and developing in our time.