The Development of the Concept of Death in Children: New Insights to Children’s Learning Process

By Jose A. Fadul.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

About 2,400 children (ages 3-16) were asked questions about the inevitability, universality and reversibility of death; loss of functions in death, and the gravity (seriousness) of death. Results show that very young children believe that some people do not die, but as they grow older these children soon realize the universality and inevitability of death. However, the responses of very young children (ages 4-5) to questions on death reversibility and total non-functionality in death, often begin as similar to adults’ response: they consider death irreversible and that the dead can no longer move, see, hear, feel, etc. However, as they enter a certain age range (6-10), their responses change and become markedly different from adults’: many consider that the dead can live again and functions like hearing and feeling can remain active even in death. Then as they enter puberty (12 and above) they again give responses that are similar to adults’ response. It is theorized that during the time when they responded differently from adults, their developing limbic system is learning new emotion blends and attitudes (Casey, Jones and Todd, 2008). Furthermore, analysis of the concept maps of children in the study confirmed that it is only around puberty that most children are able to grasp the seriousness or gravity of death, and to differentiate mortality from morbidity. Alarmingly, some children acquire death aversion deficiency through media violence presented as amusement.

Keywords: Death Concept, Learning, Emotion, Death Aversion, Mortality, Morbidity, Concept Map

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 10, pp.123-130. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 757.083KB).

Dr. Jose A. Fadul

Full Professor, School of Multidiciplinary Studies, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Manila, Philippines

Dr. Jose Fadul received his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of the Philippines in 1999, and is currently Full Professor of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. He mainly teaches social science subjects. He is happily married to his wife, Susan, a Certified Public Accountant working for the Summer Institute of Linguistics. They have one 12-year old daughter. Dr. Fadul has authored a number of books on learner- and learning-centered pedagogy, and cooperative learning.

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